A group of nursing home professionals and advocates came together in the mid 1990s to share innovative strategies to change elder living environments from the traditional "medical" model to a "social" model of care. By sharing unique and diverse care approaches, practices, principals and values, the Pioneer Network has evolved into a growing national movement.

Pioneers have strong belief systems and recognize that the culture of aging and how the elderly are perceived in America MUST change.

Their vision is for elder living environments to be life–affirming, satisfying, humane and meaningful.


Some key pioneer practice elements include:
  • creating small communities within larger facilities;
  • allowing residents the right to make their own lifestyle choices;
  • spontaneous activities;
  • intergenerational programs;
  • permanent staff assignments;
  • more homelike environments;
  • increased community involvement; and
  • family and resident councils.
Pioneers are individuals who work in long term care homes and community–based settings, government, research, advocacy and education. Anyone who ascribes to the principles and values of the Pioneer Network is encouraged to become involved in the movement. Regional pioneer meetings and trainings are held throughout Illinois.
Family Councils
Family councils give families and friends a "united voice" to address issues that affect the quality of life for residents who live in long term care facilities. Facilities certified for Medicare and Medicaid must provide a meeting space, cooperate with the council’s activities, and respond to the group’s concerns.
Families are guaranteed the right to form and hold regular meetings of a family council by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. Facilities must appoint a staff liaison to the family council, but staff and administrators have access to council meetings only by invitation.
Family councils challenge facilities to perform better and help them recognize and address problems before they become too large.
Two primary goals for family councils are (1) To protect and improve the quality of life in the facility and within the long term care system as a whole; and (2) To give families a voice in decisions that affect them and their residents.
Each family council is unique, and ombudsmen encourage them to take constructive action, demand strong leadership and maintain regular communication between family and resident councils.
For more information on the Pioneer Approach to Long Term Care and Family Councils, contact.....

See also:


Return to Long Term Care Ombudsman Program page.