As part of their education to become long-term care administrators, 159 undergraduate students participated in a “Resident for a Day” program in which they lived as nursing home residents for 24 hours. This experiential learning was designed to give them a better understanding of residents’ needs and enhance their ability to deliver person-centered care. In order to live as a resident, students simulated various physical or mental limitations which would make them dependent on others for care. Such limitations included mobility impairments, vision impairments, arthritis, and symptoms of dementia, among others.
During their 24 hours as a resident, students experienced the admissions process, ate meals with residents in the dining room, received care and assistance, and completed the discharge process. Afterwards, students detailed their experiences and lessons learned in a presentation to their peers. They also identified care experiences and events that are important for residents to experience.
Events and experiences that students identified were categorized into admissions, care planning, care, dining, and activities. For admissions, students suggested having someone greet each new resident as soon as they enter the community, give the resident a tour, and assign them a staff “buddy” for their first few weeks to help them settle in. For care planning, it was recommended to work with residents and family members to create individualized care plans. Care suggestions centered around privacy and responsiveness of staff.
Students also described the importance of the dining experience to residents, and recommended offering more than one meal option and taking extra care not to rush residents. Resident activities were perceived as the primary means of socializing and fighting boredom—for these reasons it is important for nursing homes to offer a variety of activities and for staff to understand which activities residents are interested in.
Considering students’ feedback, the Resident for a Day experience appeared to enhance their understanding of person-centered care by allowing them to see care through the eyes of residents.