Celebrating Residents Rights Month: Awareness of dignity, respect and the value of every Nursing Home Resident

Happy Resident’s Rights Month!! The National Consumer Voice has designated 2017 as “It’s All About Me: My Life, My Care, My Choices.” For great ideas on how to celebrate and promote the rights of our resident’s living in care homes check out their site here http://theconsumervoice.org/events/residents-rights-month-2017.

Resident’s Rights Month is an excellent opportunity for care homes to celebrate and recognize the rights of older adults, the rights that stemmed from the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. In recognition, I wanted to revisit a blog that I wrote last year during this time.

Over the year, I’ve thought a lot about how we could expand these rights to those living in Home Health Care. Notably, extending the rights to privacy and dignity. Home Health Care does not have regulations, in the same way, our nursing homes do, which of course has its pros and cons (and starts a whole new and maybe a longer conversation for another time). But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate these fundamental human rights to our older adults in home health care!

As my background is in long-term care, however, I’m excited to hear about how nursing homes are celebrating this month, and if your care home has a jam-packed Resident’s Rights Celebration on the October Calendar I would love to feature you on the blog!!

Share your calendar or event idea with the #theupsidetoaging, and I’ll add a link to your site here!!

Check out our post from last years celebrations for some fun ways to celebrate!!

Portrait of a smiling elderly woman.Quality of Care and Quality of Life for Every Resident

Photo Credit: http://rosenspearslaw.com/resident-rights-month/

October is Resident’s Rights Month!

Since 1981, Nursing homes across the country have dedicated a week in October to Resident Rights. The celebration was expanded to the whole month in 2011 by the National Consumer Voice.  And this year’s focus is My Vote Matters! 

Celebrating Resident Rights is an excellent way to empower and educate both residents and staff on such an important topic. But it also serves as a good reminder to us all that when we work in or visit a Long-term care unit, we are a visitor in someone’s home.

On many  long-term care units, a regular staff to resident ratio is 1 to 5.  In order to provide care for everyone, this ratio requires staff to be task and time oriented. Such limitation allows little time for engagement outside of the checklist…

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The Story of a Life Time, My Last Soundtrack

An E-Legacy

Today, you’d be hard-pressed not to find traces of someone on the internet.  People will share just about everything with the world allowing each of us a brief glimpse into their life. I’ve often wondered what happens to these pages if the person who owned them passes away. Would the last post or image they share reflect how they would want to be remembered?

What if there was a place that allowed us to record our own story? Not by the everyday musings of our social media pages, but rather by a space designed for us to share our e-legacy with our friends and loved ones our favorite songs, write our most meaningful memories, or display our precious photos. A place that we could feel confident that if we were to pass away the story of our time here on earth would be written by none other than ourselves.

My Last Soundtrack (MLS) has done just this.  Through their innovative and thoughtful lens, My Last Soundtrack has created a safe and welcoming space for anyone wanting to share their story, leave a legacy, or give the gift of collective memories to family and loved ones.

#Disrupters

Founders Carl Hammerdorfer and Joe Cannon began MLS as an opportunity to personalize the music played at our funerals or memorials. Since its conception, however, it has grown into so much more. And through a new lens of the dying process created an opportunity for family and loved ones to better prepare themselves for the end of life.

Last week I had the exciting opportunity to speak with Sue Kemple, the CEO of MLS, and Ally Cannon, Director of Marketing, to learn more about the site and the goals and solutions it seeks to offer the field of aging. Having already written a book on her own experience with grief and intrigued by the idea of applying digital solutions for individuals to cope with death and grieving, Sue saw an opportunity to expand the scope of MLS to individuals on Hospice. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.01.58 PM.pngA welcoming and customizable platform to share our story, MLS also becomes a tool, which will allow end of life conversations to occur more organically. MLS is committed to the idea of living well, dying better, and being remembered the right way. Their platform disrupts sterile conversations we have around the dying process and creates a gateway for people to better prepare for their advance directives in the comforts of home with close family and friends.

My Last Soundtrack

In addition to connecting with Sue and Ally, I was able to create my own Last Soundtrack!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy the site was to use and customize. And the end result was a beautiful design, which I can continue to add and change as needed! The best part is I can also share with those closest to me who I think would appreciate such a personal gift.

 

 

As I was customizing my own site, I couldn’t help but think of what a great tool this could be for family caregivers caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  In Nursing Homes, the Activities Department is often required to conduct an assessment on a new resident’s likes and dislikes.  It becomes a helpful tool if and when the same resident is no longer able to express their interest we have a record and can quickly adapt activities to their past preferences.

An MLS site has the fantastic potential to allow families to collect their loved one’s favorite songs, their hobbies, or even memories and use them as reminiscing activities while providing future care.

Dying Better 

No matter what stage of life you are in My Last Soundtrack is a unique and fun way to tell your life story. However, through the lens of aging, MLS has created a space where we can forget about the concerns and fears we hold towards dying and refocus our attention on what matters: the life we have led, the music we loved, and the people we have been blessed with to share the journey.

To learn more about My Last Soundtrack and to create your own site check out www.mylastsoundtrack.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Look for their logo Ed The Raven

 

The Power of Podcasts

Guest Post Author: Andrea Wurster | The Memory Muse

Trends show that older adults are becoming more and more ‘tech savvy’! In fact, plenty of older adults are using iPhones and iPads as they are perceived as simple and ‘clean.’ A large body of research now understands what the technology needs of older adults are, as well as how they should be best addressed. Universities and teaching hospitals are offering courses on iPads and smartphones; as the population continues to age, tech will be increasingly applied to aging processes and care! Not to fear for we are here!

I recently spoke with a lovely couple from my community. Paul, newly diagnosed with dementia, published a number of best-selling Canadian novels. His wife, Beverly—now transitioning into ‘caregiver’—fears that her husband may be bored as he is no longer able to read. Beverly still enjoys her morning paper and afternoon novel but feels guilt when Paul ‘just sits’ as she reads. This guilt is exacerbated as reading was an activity they enjoyed together.   

As a social gerontologist, I immediately mentioned the effectiveness of music and the calming effect of photographs. As the lovely couple mentioned that they have tried (and tired) both options, my mind trailed off onto the topic of podcasts. Podcasts are like radio shows, pre-recorded for your listening pleasure. I commute for almost seven hours every week, and I myself am tired of music. Recently, I have been listening to podcasts (thank you, Electric Runway)! The time I spend listening is not only entertaining, but keeps me up-to-date with current technology, events, and politics.

 

 

 

The Podcasts App is featured on all iPads and iPhones. This app features podcasts for any and every topic—from history to fashion, and cooking to dogs. The purple icon opens a whole world of information that only requires your ears! Podcasts last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour… And beyond! I, therefore, explained that there has to be a history podcast applicable to his interests. You can search a keyword and download to listen.

To support listening, I recommend large headphones that comfortably fit over the ear like the white ones featured on this post (Walmart, $11.15). iPhones and iPads come with complimentary ‘ear pods.’ These ear pods, however, are unusable (and uncomfortable) with hearing aids.

 

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We cannot fear technology, nor aging and dementia. We must continue to be resilient, adapt, and learn how to best deal with our realities. It is evident that caregivers require more support, resources, and assistance. Together we can revolutionize the way we age, and the way in which we perceive aging.


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Andrea is a second year Masters of Science Student (in eHealth) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Throughout her undergrad, Andrea worked in Therapeutic Recreation in long-term care. Andrea’s research focus surrounds technology needs for informal/formal caregivers, as well as technology needs in long-term care. Andrea’s mission is to normalize aging through fashion, technology, and awareness.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MemoryMuse

Blog: memorymuseblog.wordpress.com

Culture Change, Shifting the Conversation from Fall Prevention to Increased Mobility

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It’s hard not to talk about falls when we speak about the care of older adults.  Falls are a frequent topic of concern for both family and professional caregivers.  And for a good reason, they can cause serious injury, render a person immobile, and will often leave the individual fearful that they will fall again. In addition to the safety concerns of the individual, fall prevention has become a top priority in almost all care communities. Because of severe consequences and even law suits that are taken against professional caregivers when an older adult falls while in their care.

And yet, with so much attention on the topic and so many preventative measures in place, falls of older adults still occur both in and out of the professional care setting. So is it possible to ever really eliminate this issue? On September 11, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending an event that worked towards offering answers to this question.  Entitled the Unintended Consequences of Good Intentions: Balancing Improved Mobility with the Risk of Falls, this workshop was organized by the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Collaborative and hosted by Forest Hill of D.C., and it was truly a meeting of the minds.

Facilitator Anna Ortigara, RN, MS, FAAN, Organizational Change Consultant, PHI, started us off with a question, how many of us in the room had shown up to learn about fall prevention? Almost all of us raised our hand. She then asked, what if I told you we aren’t going to talk about fall prevention but rather increased mobility? Although it may sound like just another name for the same issue, the thoughtful discussion that took place through this new lens reflects how critical attention to language is while creating programs and policies for our older adults.

An Interdisciplinary Panel

Panelist Members

  • Physical Therapist, Hilary G. Forman PT, RAC-CTSVP of Clinical Strategies Division, Healthpro-Heritage
  • Risk Manager, Paul A. Greve Jr. JD RPLU Executive Vice President, Willis Towers Watson Health Care Practice
  • CNA, Iye Jalloh, Fores Hills of DC
  • Executive Director/Administrator, Mary Savoy MS, LNHA, Executive Director/Administrator, Forest Hill of DC
  • Family Member, Janice Dabney

The expert panelist assembled for the facilitated discussion represented all sectors of health care. And each viewed the concept of increased mobility through a different lens and shared the opportunities and challenges in embracing this new model of care.

Obstacles to Maintaining Mobility

There was overwhelming agreement that the Culture in skilled nursing slows the move towards increased mobility.   Mary Savoy notes that there is a culture of protectionism among care workers many who are concerned with the repercussions of a fall. Often over protecting to keep their residents safe. Hilary Forman furthered this idea by making a note of the reactive culture in care homes often handling issues as they occur rather than proactively seeking solutions before they arise.

There was also a consensus that federal regulations can sometimes hinder the process. Established to protect residents from harm, rules take very few situational details into consideration. And to meet the documentation and statistical ratings to keep care homes in good standing takes time away from an organizations ability to concentrate on much else.

What change can we make? “Accept falls,” says Forman.  The more time we spend preventing falls means, the less time we can devote to keeping the resident mobile and physically active. It’s only when we accept falls that we can move forward and create systems that support mobility.

The Family’s Role, How do you Talk to Families about Mobility and Falls? 

Paul Greve referred to the need for care homes to prioritize conversations with family members.   Noting that if family members were offered more information and awareness on the benefits of mobility, they could be more accepting of the risks of falls and less likely to pursue a law suit.

Janice Dabney agreed that communication with staff and building relationships with her mom’s care workers made a world of difference in her perception of the home and her understanding of fall risks.  But also noted the importance of the physical lay out of the facility, low staff to resident ratios, and a culture of teamwork were all excellent ways to promote mobility.

Savoy noted that breaching this topic is difficult because we want families to feel confident in the care that we are providing for their loved ones. But Iye Jalloh believes relationships with the resident and consistency in staff assignments are the best way to care for residents, promote their mobility, but also develop relationships with families.

Accepting Falls and Mitigating Risks

The conversations that occurred by both the panel and the attendees offers hope that a future of increased mobility for our residents in care homes is possible. As a field, we should all start having open conversations about the realities of falls and ways we can mitigate risk. Involving family members, as well as federal and state regulatory bodies, are essential to this conversation. We all have the same end goal, to keep residents safe while increasing and maintaining their mobility.

Nathan and Nikki Lamaster, Founders of SMART CEUs Hub- Recreational Therapy Approved CEUs

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With a background working in Activities, I am always a bit (a lot!) partial to stories, people, and businesses that support and expand the scope of the Recreation Department.   A Recreational Therapist has a unique opportunity to get to know older adults living in a skilled nursing center not only by their diagnosis but also by their hobbies and life stories.

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association defines Recreational Therapy as a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being. However, close ties to Bingo and ball bouncing often limit the perception of the job description.

Just like those in the medical profession, a Recreational Therapist is trained and certified to provide care and are also required to maintain Continuing Education Units or CEU’s to retain their certification.  Busy schedules, limited budgets, and even a lack of awareness of the profession often create barriers for professionals to obtain the necessary number of CEU’s, which can be both frustrating and detrimental to their career.  In steps, SMART CEUs Hub.

Nathan and Nikki Lamaster started SMART  CEUs Hub because they saw a need for accessible educational resources for recreational therapist all over the country. I learned about SMART Hub through their active social media presence on Instagram and after speaking with founder Nathan Lamaster quickly realized that this married duo have the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that is just what the aging services needs!

With a profound respect and understanding for the needs of older adults and the desire to help others, this dynamic pair is expanding their reach in the aging services and helping Recreational Therapist all over the country stay current and productive within their profession. I had the chance to ask Nathan and Nikki about how they got started in the field and why they believe the work is so important.

SMART CEUs Hub Explainer Video

How did you get your start in the aging services?

Well, this is funny actually. My aunt Karen works as the Director Of Social Services at a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) in California, and when I was a young kid, I got the chance to sing and entertain the residents. I even got the opportunity to dress up as Santa Clause one year and help bring the Christmas spirit to the people living there. As for jobs in the field, I got my first job in aging services at the age of 16 working as a server for a 5 star Assisted Living Facility (ALF). Then when I graduated College with my undergraduate degree, I worked as the Director Of Activities for a few SNFs in California and now part of my job in Texas is working on specifically the behavioral health portion of geriatrics.

Why do you think recreation is so important for our elders?

I believe what we do helps give purpose to our lives whether that be entertainment, hobbies, volunteering, our faith, or anything that gains our focus. One of the biggest issues I have seen affecting the senior population is feeling like their best days are behind them and that they have a hard time seeing their purpose. As a Recreational Therapist, we get to help people in all areas of their lives including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. I believe God has given me this mission field to work in.

Where did the idea for SMART Hub come from?

SMART CEUs Hub came from seeing a need in the Recreational Therapy field for quality, affordable, online, educational presence specifically designed for Recreational Therapists, as well as giving job opportunities to Recreational Therapists through our SMART Instructor Program.

How does your business enhance the field of aging?

Our SMART Instructors are all considered experts in their specific areas of Recreational Therapy. The knowledge that they bring to the table helps other Recreational Therapists to be the best at serving their clients like a ripple effect.

Are you interested in becoming a SMART Instructor?  You can sign up here for more information.

How do you for see SMART Hub expanding in the future?  

SMART CEUs Hub has some big plans scheduled to be happening in October this year which is our 2 year anniversary of being in business. Our goals are to reach as many Recreational Therapists throughout the country as possible to help spread the knowledge of best practices in Recreational Therapy and gain more online exposure for our field. Who knows? Maybe traveling conferences are in the future for us!

For more on SMART CEU Hub check out:

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Founder Bio: Nathan and his wife Nikki relocated from California to Tyler, Texas in 2013 right after they were married for his wife’s Christian radio career. While living in Texas Nathan found that very little people knew what Recreational Therapy was as compared to in California. A lack of awareness of the profession meant that positions were limited. As many Recreational Therapist across the country were in the same situation, Nathan began to think of ways to help his profession gain more exposure through a greater online presence. This was when he decided to create a quality, affordable, online, educational presence specifically designed for Recreational Therapists and taught by Recreational Therapy Experts (known as SMART Instructors) throughout the country. Thus in 2015 SMART CEUs Hub was born and continues to grow its influence.

 

Dementia Care: the Benefits of Staying In Their Reality​

timeIndividuals living with dementia or Alzheimers will often speak of their younger years as if it was their current reality.  They tell stories of their childhood home, their parents, and will even feel the need to go home and make dinner for their young children.

Sometimes the need for this reality is so great that they become anxious and even angry when they can’t find what in their mind should be there.

How trapped and powerless they must feel in these moments!  Imagine if we woke up one day and everyone we know and loved were no longer there or if our once routine and purposeful lives were now only a distant memory.

If you’ve cared for someone with dementia you’ve most likely had to “fib” at one time or another. When asked where their mother or father was, you may have said they were at the store; When asked to go home, you may have said it’s too cold to go outside; Or when asked when their kids will be here, you may have replied they are at school today.

These types of answers may not always work as well as we hope they do, but more often than not these responses offer them comfort and a peace of mind in knowing that their mother is still alive and will soon return.

I’ve had many people ask about the ethical implications of lying to someone with dementia or Alzheimers.  However, there are multiple benefits from the practice of being in their reality for both them and us. Because when we engage them in their stories of the past, we learn and connect on their terms, not ours.

Reality Orientation

First, I want to mention the practice of Reality orientation, which is the method of reminding the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s the facts of their current situation. If they wonder where their parents are we tell them that their parents are no longer living or that they can’t go home because they no longer live in their childhood home. We will also remind them of the actual date and time and their current living situation. 

In my experience, reality orientation causes anxiety and can even scare the person with dementia or Alzheimers.  Arguing with someone who has dementia is futile and will often exasperate the situation.  Whether we think they are making up these stories or not when we attempt to correct them we are essentially calling them a liar and taking away any sense of control they may have in telling these stories. 

The Alzheimers Association also stresses the importance of communication with those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s and notes that communication requires patience, understanding, and good listening skills.

Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp#ixzz4r9g3YquZ

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Therapeutic Lying

There are several names we can give to the practice of staying in someone else’s reality:  therapeutic Lying, embracing the reality, or empathy.  No matter what you feel comfortable calling it, the practice itself has multiple uses and benefits for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Therapeutic lying reduces stress and pain of loss for both the caregiver and the person receiving care.  The Family Caregiver Alliance notes:

People with Dementia Do Not Need to Be Grounded in Reality.
“When someone has memory loss, he often forgets important things, e.g., that his mother is deceased. When we remind him of this loss, we remind him about the pain of that loss also. When someone wants to go home, reassuring him that he is at home often leads to an argument. Redirecting and asking someone to tell you about the person he has asked about or about his home is a better way to calm a person with dementia.”

No matter what strategy or answer we find works best for our loved one staying within their reality rather than bringing them into our own will make them feel more safe and secure at this moment. This practice has a beautiful way of redirecting them so they are no longer concerned about the safety and whereabouts of their loved ones and they can then, in turn, enjoy the moment with you.

Laid to Rest at Home: How to Plan a Home Memorial Service for Your Departed Loved One

Guest Post Author: Bailey Chauner | Content Marketing Coordinator for Redfin

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Having a memorial for a loved one after their passing is an important part of the grieving process. It’s a time to honor them, share memories with family and friends, and say goodbye. Some families find that there’s no better place to hold this personal event than at home, but knowing exactly where to start the planning process — especially amid the grief of a loss — can feel overwhelming.

This guide will help you plan a beautiful, meaningful home memorial service for a recently departed loved one. Proceed with patience and plenty of support. With a little time and the right planning, you can hold a service that will allow your family to come together and say goodbye.

Choosing a kind of service: Memorials vs. Funerals

The services and items you’ll need in planning a home memorial will vary depending on the kind of service you’ll have. Your loved one may have left instruction on their final arrangements, but if not there are two main options: memorials and funerals.

Memorial

Memorials usually involve a group of family and friends coming together to mourn the loss of a loved one. There may be photos of the departed, flowers, and at least one eulogy, often from a surviving spouse, parent, or sibling. Some families also choose to have a religious or spiritual figure speak. The loved one is typically represented by a large photo, a collection of photos, wreath, or if they’ve been cremated, their urn.

Food and drink are often incorporated into memorials and can be organized in just about any format that works for you and your loved ones. Some memorials will offer light refreshments like water, coffee, crackers, cheese, and mini sandwiches. In other cases, the memorial is a potluck where family and friends are invited to bring a dish to share. Alcohol isn’t required, but it’s commonly offered — typically a basic wine selection is sufficient. Leftovers stay with the host or are given to the immediate family of the deceased (if the memorial is held at someone else’s home). For large memorials, it might be worth the expense to hire a caterer to provide finger foods, utensils, and drinks.

The location of the memorial within the house is entirely up to you; one convenience of a home memorial is that you can tailor it to be exactly how you want. Some families even choose to have a backyard service if the weather permits. The living room, den, or formal dining room are all good options, but ultimately it will depend on the space available in the house. You’ll need adequate room for your guests to chat amongst themselves before and after the service, seating for the formal eulogy or service, and places for people to set their food and drinks. Finally, there should be some kind of a dedicated space where the speakers will be clearly seen and heard, usually close to the visual representation of the deceased loved one.

Seating doesn’t necessarily have to be anything formal — though you can rent extra chairs if you have space and finances to do so — and many people manage by bringing all the chairs in the home to the memorial space. Neighbors and other nearby family and friends will likely be able to bring over extra chairs if needed. Arrange them facing the speakers’ area, and do your best to leave clear pathways for guests.

Flowers are somewhat traditional for memorials but can be quite expensive. A floral wreath with your loved one’s photo is often more than enough to create a beautiful and personal tribute and won’t cost too much, especially if multiple family members pitch in. If you do choose to buy additional floral displays, don’t be afraid to deviate from the normal white arrangements. A home Memorial allows you to really personalize the experience, so consider choosing types and colors of flowers that will bring happy memories of your loved one: the peonies your mother carried on her wedding day, tulips the color of your brother’s prized ’67 Mustang, or the roses your grandmother grew in her garden, for example. Keep in mind that though they make a lovely addition to a home memorial, flowers are completely optional — often those that are sent by loved ones with condolences are enough to create the desired effect.

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Another option instead of flowers is to collect money and donate to a charity that was near and dear to the deceased one’s heart. This donation can be made in the memory of the person who died to honor a cause that was meaningful to them.

Large memorials may require a more advanced sound system. Some families like to play their loved one’s favorite songs (the volume level really depends on the tone of your memorial, but usually you’ll opt for the quiet side) or other calming music to soothe their guests before the service. Having a microphone and speaker set-up will make it easier for your eulogists to be heard, and even better if you have some kind of podium or raised step for them to stand on.

If finances are tight, you’ll likely be able to find a neighbor, family member, or friend who will have access to equipment you can borrow. Don’t be afraid to ask around; your loved ones will be hoping to lend a hand at this difficult time, so let them.

Please click here to read the full article from Redfin. 

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About the Author: 

Bailey, Redfin’s Content Marketing Coordinator, loves writing about all topics related to home ownership from data to dogs and décor. Bailey’s dream home would have an oversize walk in closet and overlook Lake Washington. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster.

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