Person-centered care—a holistic approach to retirement living

Judson Park resident Martin Simon, a long-time accomplished cellist with the Cleveland Orchestra, performed a recital with Cleveland Institute of Music student Caitlin Lynch. Lynch lives at Judson Manor through a special intergenerational housing collaboration between Judson and CIM. She and another student provide cultural programming for the residents in exchange for room and board. Photo courtesy of Courtney Judson.

Person-centered care is a method of retirement home management that nurtures the physical, mental and emotional needs of the residents. It focuses on enhancing the quality of life, and empowering residents by involving them in almost every aspect of decision making about their care.

According to The Ohio Person-Centered Care Coalition in Columbus, “Person-centered care is a relationship-based approach to care that honors and respects the voice of elders and those working closest with them. It involves a continuing process of listening and changing things in an effort to individualize care.”

The purpose of person-centered care is to make life for the residents less institutional and more home-like. This applies not only to the personal care of the residents, but also to the meal service methods and atmosphere, the number and type of recreational activities, and even the design of the buildings themselves. 

The Person-Centered Way: Revolutionizing the Quality of Life in Long-Term Care, a book by Ohio gerontologist Dr. James H. Collins, gives examples of approaches to person-centered care. These include allowing residents to wake up at whatever time is most comfortable for them; to eat when they are hungry, rather than at prescribed mealtimes; and to eat what they want to eat, rather than having to choose from a set menu. Collins describes person-centered care as offering “privacy, dignity, autonomy, and self-worth” to the residents.

Successful person-centered care involves a team-based approach to every aspect of care, where the residents are an integral part of the team. Judson Smart Living, with locations at University Circle and Chagrin Falls, has been practicing this approach since 1999.

Lin Bartel, director of Judson member programming, said, “We base our entire approach on developing meaningful relationships between the residents and the staff, who work together to improve the quality of life for residents as well as employees.”

Judson programming empowers residents to live as fully and autonomously as possible, in whatever ways are most meaningful to them. Residents decide what activities they would like to participate in, and some have even started new programs using their own personal skills and talents. Judson also offers intergenerational programming, uniting residents with students at local schools to share learning experiences.

Judson offers their programs not only to their residents, but to the entire Cleveland community. Their Wellness Center memberships are available to the public, and they have opened satellite centers in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. Robert Lucarelli, director of communications, said, “We offer a platform for all older adults to remain meaningful members of society, and we give them tools to nurture that.”

The Ohio Person-Centered Care Coalition may be reached at 614-466-5002 and Judson Smart Living may be reached at 216-721-1234. Dr. Collins’ book may be ordered through

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through She may be reached at 216-408-5578.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:48 AM, 05.30.2012