As we prepare to wish our President and CEO, Diane Carter, RN, MSN, RAC-CT, DNS-CT, FAAN, the best of luck in the next stage of her career, we look back on the beginnings of our organization, the good times and the laughs, and all of the wonderful memories we’ve shared together.
One thing we will always remember and cherish about Diane is her passion for working every day to improve the quality of care for residents in skilled nursing facilities across the nation. Her ability to see an opportunity and a place for improvement in a simple conversation with a resident and then spend her life working toward that goal of bringing a better quality of life to others is something we can all learn from.
Below is the first blog that Diane wrote for the Care Connection Blog. We hope you’ll enjoy re-reading her perspective, and we invite you to post your thoughts, memories, and well wishes to Diane in the comments section below!
My A-HA Moment
Diane Carter, RN, MSN, RAC-CT, DNS-CT, FAAN
I’ll never forget Marie. In the summer of 1968, she was a 56 year-old mental health client, living in a nursing home in Colorado Springs where I was just beginning my own long-term care career as a 17 year old nurse aide. Prior to our home, Marie had lived at the state psychiatric hospital but was forced to move when psychiatric patients were “de-institutionalized” in the 1960s.
Marie was a character, to say the least. Toting a purse full of chicken bones and gum wrappers, she would recite the AA prayer in a falsetto voice standing in the solarium before each meal. Every evening after supper as the aides were steering residents toward their rooms for bedtime, Marie would call me over. “Hey Diane,” she’d whisper in a conspiring tone. “Get your car. We’re taking a road trip to the state hospital.”
“Why?” I asked, not understanding why Marie would want to return to the psychiatric hospital.
“Because they have things to do there,” she explained. “Nothing to do here but sit on the porch and go to bed at 8 o’clock.”
Marie was right. At that time, nursing homes didn’t offer activities for residents. There were no care plans. The use of restraints wasn’t questioned. And residents had no choice in how to live their lives.
This was my “A-HA moment” and the beginning of my life-long passion for long-term care nursing and the culture change movement that has been underway since.
By starting this blog, I hope to start a dialogue with all nurses working in long-term care. Join me and other LTC RNs each week on this blog as we get the conversation started. We’ll reminisce about the past and what inspired us to work in nursing homes. We’ll ponder the present and how nurse leaders are the true champions of culture change. And we’ll contemplate our future and where long-term care RNs fit in the evolving healthcare environment.
I was never able to take that road trip with Marie, but I hope today that she might not want to take that ride, that she’d find the quality of life she was seeking in any skilled nursing facility, and that her voice would be heard.
Diane Carter is the president & CEO of AANAC. Long-Term Living Magazine recognized her as one of the ten most influential people in the past 40 years in the field of long-term care.