Mount St. Vincent’s people-focused culture draws national attention

By John Wolcott

It’s love that sets Providence Mount St. Vincent apart from most of the nation’s 20,000 elder care facilities, said Molly Swain, development and public relations director at “The Mount.”

Fran Raines, right, a resident of Providence Mount St. Vincent

Fran Raines, right, a resident of Providence Mount St. Vincent, talks with a Pioneer Network visitor about life in the elder community known for its people-oriented care. Photo courtesy Providence Mount St. Vincent


“Residents choose their own times for meals, showers and other activities, rather than living by institutional regimens,” she said. “We love them and care for them in ways that make us feel like their extended family. Our priority is on our relationship with our residents.”

People-oriented care has been the focus since the mid-1990s at Providence Mount St. Vincent, owned and operated by the Sisters of Providence and Providence Health & Services. “It seems like that’s just a common-sense approach,” Swain said, “but it’s so rare nationally.”

So rare that more than 160 national elder-care leaders toured the 350-resident facility in mid-August to learn how to replicate that loving care from coast to coast. The tours were part of the annual conference of Pioneer Network, formed in 1997 by long-term care professionals to lead a national movement, known as “culture change,” that embraces a more personalized alternative to today’s institutionalized care.

“We chose Providence Mount St. Vincent because they are the frontrunner and early adopter of culture change,” said Lynda Crandall, Pioneer Network’s interim executive director. “They truly are the Pioneer Network values come to life.”

Besides assisted living and nursing care, The Mount provides short-term care to more than 1,500 people a year and operates a daycare center that gives children and residents opportunities to interact. The tours covered all programs offered at the West Seattle facility.

One person who took the tour wrote about the “deep meaningful relationships between those who live and work at The Mount.” Another noted: “It was so apparent that the culture is one of respect and mutual support rather than a culture of blame and punishment … what an amazing community!”

After seeing love in action at Providence Mount St. Vincent, the tour-takers “are all abuzz about going back to their communities and leading change initiatives to be much more person-oriented,” Crandall said.

August 19, 2013