Lone Koldby is humanizing long-term care for the elderly in Norway by placing activity and social interaction at the center of the care regimens in nursing homes and empowering their occupants to play active roles in designing those regimens and reclaiming their rights as senior citizens.
THE NEW IDEA
In an age of continuing development of improved medical treatments for the elderly, Lone’s organization, Aktivitetsdosetten, is addressing the absence of parallel gains in opportunities for revitalizing activity and social interaction in most eldercare institutions. Lone and her colleagues are repositioning the individual as the focal point of care in eldercare institutions. They are changing care practices to ensure that nursing staff consider each person’s individual life experience and needs for social interaction, rather than focusing solely on their physical ailments, in designing and providing care. As a result, nursing homes are transformed into more “caring” and more “humane” institutions and the physical vitality, emotional satisfaction, and mental health of their newly empowered residents are markedly improved.
Lone is mobilizing care staff, family members, volunteers, and residents of eldercare institutions to incorporate a diverse and creative array of new activities and unprecedented social interaction into the previously rigid routines and cultures of eldercare institutions. By training a growing cadre of nurses in such institutions across Norway, as “activity doctors,” Lone is building a more empathetic workforce, motivated by the power of the new activities and social interactions to reduce the reliance on pharmaceuticals to address elderly resident’s needs. In the new regime, the elderly have also assumed more active roles in working with the “activity doctors” and other staff to design individualized plans for activities and social interaction that is more closely aligned with their own interests and life experiences.
Since the formal launching of Aktivitetsdosetten in 2011, Lone has trained 200+ “activity doctors” from various parts of Norway, to implement the program in nine Norwegian nursing homes, and has attracted the attention of several key policymakers in the health field. Because of the universality of the issues that Lone is effectively addressing, the Aktivitetsdosetten approach is also increasingly recognized as an important step forward in addressing a major global challenge.