What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff

The Power of Empathy to Transform Care

By Leslie Pedtke, L.N.H.A.

ISBN 978-1-938870-45-3
6 x 9 paper
160 pages
© 2017

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Product Description


2018 National Mature Media Awards Winner logoCreated by an administrator struggling to jump-start culture change in her care community, Through the Looking Glass is a unique program that changes staff attitudes and teaches the importance of person-centered care practices by placing staff directly in the shoes of residents—with remarkable results.

What is it like to be unable to move without setting off a personal body alarm? How painful and lonely is it to sit in a wheelchair for hours on end? How does it feel to be incontinent in front of others? These are challenges that residents in long-term care can face on a daily basis. Even the most caring staff can fail to appreciate their effects. In this book, Leslie Pedtke introduces you to a program that builds staff empathy for residents’ experiences by having them simulate a diagnosis and live alongside residents. The lessons learned create more compassionate caregivers, improve care practices, and enhance well-being for both staff and residents.

Learn how to set up this program in any residential care setting, as well as ways to address high turnover through the hiring and orientation process. Measurable benefits include:

  • Elimination of personal body alarms
  • Decreased falls
  • Reduced use of psychotropic drugs
  • Improved resident health and well-being
  • Increased staff retention and satisfaction

Filled with compelling journal entries of real staff experiences, this inspiring, hopeful, and encouraging book will inspire you to achieve truly person-centered care.

Format: E-book
e-ISBN 978-1-938870-47-7

E-book available through:

Also available through: Bowker, Baker and Taylor, OverDrive, Gardners, and Follett

About the Author
, by William Keane, MS, MBA
Foreword, by Zoe Dearing, BME, MT

Prologue. Through the Looking Glass

Part One. A Lesson in Empathy

  1. Setting Goals to Change the Culture of Care
  2. Meaning and Purpose in Our Lives: Darlene’s Story
  3. Maintaining Safety as well as Dignity:
    Leah’s Story
  4. Being a Care Partner Instead of a Caregiver: Chris’s Story
  5. Loneliness in Long-Term Care: Katherine’s Story
  6. Honoring Choices
  7. What’s Going to Happen to My Body Next?
  8. Every Resident Has a Voice: All for One and One for All
  9. How Long Does It Take to Learn about Empathy?
  10. My 24-Hour Stay

Part Two.Lessons Learned

  1. Changing the Way We Hire and Orient New Staff: A Person-First Approach
  2. It Only Takes One Candle to Light Another Candle

Epilogue. If You Want Culture Change, You Have to Take a Risk


  • How to Set Up Through the Looking Glass in Your Community
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What Living as a Resident C… by on Scribd

Leslie Pedtke, L.N.H.A., is Educator for Quality Improvement for King Management Company. She worked as Administrator of Aviston Countryside Manor from 1994 until 2017. Through her experience of more than 20 years, she has built a foundation of person-directed care at Aviston as well as at King Management’s other long-term care and assisted living communities.

During her time as administrator, Aviston Countryside Manor was featured in the 2013 spring/summer LTC Today (“Aviston Staff Walk in the Residents’ Shoes”); the March 2012 issue of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News (“You’re Hired”); the spring 2011 LTC Today (“Consistent Assignments”); the April 2010 issue of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News (“Empathy Crash Course”); and the Health Care Cost Insitute’s (HCCI) Members Only newsletter for the intergenerational program Bringing Residents’ Stories to Life. She was named one of HCCI’s 2010 Heroes in Long-Term Care.

Leslie is currently Board President of the Illinois Pioneer Coalition, a Professional Educator for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Missouri Chapter, and national presenter on the topics of learning empathy, best hiring practices, eliminating restraints, and decreasing falls. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a B.A. in Speech Communication.

6 reviews for What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff

  1. Administrator

    “It has long puzzled me, why those who work in long-term care—from owners to CNAs—are not asked to live as a resident in the facility they own or work in. Experiencing the reality of a resident seems to me to be a prerequisite to creating a culture of residential living that is truly person-centered and person-directed. I was thrilled when I learned of Leslie’s approach of doing just that at Aviston Countryside Manor. Her book makes abundantly clear the value of such a program, and the use of stories and examples of the program in action make this an engaging read. From its opening chapter on how and why the program came about, to the very practical ‘How to Set up the Program in Your Community’ and ‘Frequently Asked Questions,’ this is a very inspiring, and much needed, book. It should be required reading in courses that prepare residential living facility owners and administrators. And current owners and administrators who want to reduce staff turnover while providing a more dignified living experience for residents should also put this book at the top of their reading list.”
    —Jim Vanden Bosch, MA
    Executive Director, Terra Nova Films

  2. Administrator

    “What a gift we’ve been given by Leslie Pedtke. Not only do we receive a thorough explanation of the Through the Looking Glass experience, but we also hear the many insights and details regarding how to do it. Even before you experience it, don’t wait. Let this resource stimulate you to risk change with nothing to lose and much to gain. Promotion of continence, walking and decision-making/choice, and replacing alarms with better practices not only enhance life for persons living and staying in long-term care communities but also compliance with the new CMS requirements, which have greater focus on person-centered care than ever before.”
    —Carmen Bowman, MHS, BSW
    Regulator turned Educator, Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change

  3. Administrator

    “This book by Leslie Pedtke (Administrator at Aviston Countryside Manor and Chair of the Illinois Pioneer Coalition), is a must-read for everyone so that we all understand what it is like to live in a nursing home and realize the great need for change. It tells the story of Leslie’s/Aviston’s program, Through the Looking Glass, which started out as an empathy program for the staff and ended up being a tool for transforming the culture of the nursing home, making life better for the residents and improving the work life of the staff. Through the stories and journal entries of the staff that lived as a resident in the nursing home for a period of time, the reader learns what it is like to be a resident and the lessons learned by Leslie and her staff about how care practices and other aspects of nursing home life should be different, and what to do to make it so. The Appendix includes information about how every nursing home in the country can replicate the program, which I believe would greatly increase culture change adoption by providers and make it the norm in this country.”
    —Cathy Lieblich, MA
    Director of Network Relations, Pioneer Network

  4. Administrator

    “In my work with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, I have had the opportunity to observe how hundreds of skilled nursing homes, assisted living, and adult day care centers (in 28 states and internationally in 7 countries) take care of people. With Leslie Pedtke’s innovative leadership, Aviston Countryside Manor ranks among the best-run communities I have had the honor of working with. When I participated in Through the Looking Glass, I learned so much about empathy and myself. While this book is not a magical key—it takes daily hard work to achieve what Aviston Countryside Manor has achieved—I can say if you follow Leslie’s steps, it will lead you to a magical place; a truly person-centered, respectful, and loving community.”
    —Gary Glazner
    Founder and Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

  5. Administrator

    “Filled with compelling journal entries of real staff experiences, What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff is a hopeful and encouraging instructional guide and reference that will inspire the achievement of truly person-centered care.”
    Mary Cowper, Midwest Book Review

  6. Administrator

    “This book will inspire and encourage people to look at their communities through different eyes to achieve a change of culture that results in better quality of life and person-centered care for residents.”
    Creative Forecasting

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