Future Age - July/August 2010 - (Page 6)
Quality in the Eyes of Consumers
by Debra Wood, R.N.
When it comes to aging services, everyone wants quality. Providers strive to deliver a high degree of excellence. Consumers consider it essential. No one asks for poorquality service. Yet what quality means to people varies. FutureAge asked leaders from advocacy organizations, providers and consultants about their perceptions of quality from a consumer perspective and found an emphasis on such hard-to-measure elements as relationships, trust and perceptions of genuine caring.
or many people, quality means choices—about the services they receive, where and when they receive them, and who provides the care. “People who need long-term services and support like to have autonomy and the same choices in their lives that other people their age and experience would have,” says Andrew Imparato, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities in Washington, D.C. “A big quality issue for us is people having a choice and not being forced to live in a particular setting because there is no alternative.” “Older people see value in the quality of the experience,” says Maria Dwight, president of Gerontological Services, a consulting firm based in Los Angeles. “Quality is quality of life.” Dwight reports an increased interest among older adults for providers who will help preserve their independence. She says older adults do not want to be cared for but instead will seek out services that will help them better care for themselves. Wanting greater choice and freedom about care options led to the village movement. A group of friends in Boston came together to find a way to stay in their homes while growing older and created Beacon Hill Village, which provides services and referrals to preapproved vendors. The concept has expanded through the Village to Village Network to 50 communities around the country. “Quality means having control, independence and having a say in where you grow older,” says Rita Kostiuk, Village to Village Network coordinator in Boston. Scott Daniels, director of dining and culinary for senior services at Sodexo of Gaithersburg, Md., reports older adults value consistency and options, whether about their meals, where they dine or other aspects of life, when assessing quality. “They have to have choice,” Daniels says. “To baby boomers, quality will mean a greater variety with consistent quality in the services offered.” Bonnie Kantor, executive director of the Pioneer Network in Columbus, Ohio, adds that people do not want to alter their routines or what and when they eat. They want the freedom to continue living their lives as they see fit, even if the choices they make are not necessarily those we would make for them. “When we live at home, we take risks,” Kantor says. “We have a right to make choices that others do not agree with. A risk-free environment is not
futureAge | July/August 2010
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