Written by: Jill Vitale-Aussem, President and CEO of CLC-Cappella Living Solutions
If you’ve seen the movie A Christmas Story, you likely remember the scene in which 9-year-old Ralphie is helping his dad change a tire on the side of the road on a dark snowy night. Ralphie is so excited to help but he drops the lug nuts and loses them in the snow. In frustration, he yells out “Fuuuuudggge!” Ralphie then explains through narration, “…only I didn’t say fudge. I said THE word. The queen mother of all dirty words – the F-dash-dash-dash word!” Ralphie ends up being punished with a bar of soap in his mouth.
That’s how we should view the word ‘facility’. As the queen mother of all dirty words: the F-bomb.
Do you dream of living in a facility? Of course not! Facilities are cold institutions where humanity and the human spirit wither and die. Why then do we use this awful term to describe the places older people live and receive support? It denigrates residents and team members alike, yet it’s sprinkled generously throughout the narrative of senior living – by government regulators, by leaders in the field, and even by people living and working in communities.
At Christian Living Communities-Cappella Living Solutions, we’re on a mission to ban the F-bomb because, as Dr. Bill Thomas, Founder of the Eden Alternative, has said time and time again, “words make worlds”.
Our words drive our beliefs and behaviors. Call a building a facility and people will act like they live and work in a facility. Call it a community and the seeds of change are planted.
Jill Vitale-Aussem shares more about Why Words Matter.
Community is a word filled with promise, with hope, and with citizenship. In a community everyone is valued and has a role to play. This is the type of culture we strive to build in each CLC-Cappella community. Yes, we provide excellent care and services, but we also purposefully create environments where each person has autonomy, a deep sense of belonging, continued growth and meaningful purpose.
It’s time to eradicate “facility” from our vocabulary and start using words that honor elderhood. So, bust out the soap, implement a “swear jar” if you want. Let’s start changing our world through the words we use.
Learn more about our community programs and our innovative approach to aging.
About the Author
Jill Vitale-Aussem serves as President & CEO of Christian Living Communities, a Colorado-based, not-for-profit, faith-based organization serving more than 3,000 older adults and their families through its 23 owned and managed communities located in six states as well as its services of adult day, home care and consulting. Jill has over twenty years of experience leading nursing homes, assisted living and life plan communities. Prior to joining Christian Living Communities, she served as President and CEO of The Eden Alternative, an international non-profit organization focused on creating quality of life for older people and their care partners. She is a licensed nursing home administrator and a Reframing Aging facilitator.