I recently attended the funeral for the man who inspired me to pursue a profession in nursing home management. Jim Smith was a wiry man with a quick wit and a blazing intellect. The visions he possessed for nursing homes were decades ahead of their time.

Like all of us he had his dark sides, but it was his dazzling brilliance that had a hypnotic effect on me. Years later I was able to enhance his visions and apply them with financial and managerial acumen.

At the conclusion of the funeral services, the Smith family played a video of Jim answering questions posed by one of his sons. It was moving to hear his voice. He talked of serious subjects, yet ended each thought with a funny quip. Jim was a most amazing man and played an important role in my own life, and I’m sure, in many others’.

Jim sadly never received the recognition he deserved. At the time he was thought of as an eccentric, with romanticized notions of elder empowerment and rights. I attempted to rectify this injustice at Piñon’s 25th anniversary party in the fall of 2004. David Stang and I gave Jim a plaque and commemorated the prescient awareness he had on the long-term care profession.

He was a man that I will never forget.

4 thoughts on “Mentors

  1. Thanks Jeff for your comments. Jamie Smith believed that the CNA’s be allowed to document in the Medical Records. However, facilities were afraid what the CNA might write in the record as this could cause legal problems. Yet, Jamie felt they were an essential part of the life of the resident. This challenge of CNA’s documenting is still a difficult challenge. There were other challenging visions that Jamie worked on such as the pyscho-social model. He reasoned that the Nursing Home was their home and not a hospital; that the the Medical Model present in most Nursing Homes was damaging to the quality of life of the resident. At Spearly Nursing Home, a 135 Behavioral Facility, we hired 4 Social Workers and the Licensed Social Worker was in charge of the Social Services Department, the Activities Department, the Psycho-Tropic drug review team, the Admissions and Discharge Process. Within a year the Facility that had been condemned before Pinon came in was resurveyed and given a Deficiency Free Survey, where the Surveyors cried at the exit interview because of the extraordinary change to the residents quality of life. We had a tough back lash from the nursing department which had a tough time in sharing its power. The nursing department gradually realized that they could be nurses and not Social Workers.
    We received over six Deficiency Free Surveys over the next nine years. However we had a hard time keeping a Director of Nurses. The Medical Model in Nursing Homes is still the overall system in most homes, especially when they emphasize wanting Medicare and Private Pay.

    • I well remember that amazing transformation at Spearly. Those of us who knew the facility before and after know that it was all because of David’s leadership and Jeff’s dedicated support of the management concept that became Culture Change. It could be seen as the template of the culture change to come before that term was in use. Spearly was a powerful tool in demonstrating the new management structure that defines culture change.

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