Tag Archives: AGE-u-cate Training Institute

Infection Control and Expressive Touch: We Can Have Both

The healing benefit of expressive touch is lacking in the lives of older adults.

The topic of infection control almost always enters the conversation when I deliver Compassionate Touch training.  This training teaches caregivers the skill of expressive touch.

Hand, back, and foot rubs used to be a part of the care process.  Seasoned nurses consistently confirm this fact.  In contrast,  newer nurses and nursing assistants report that expressive touch was not a part of their training.

This lays the foundation to discuss the reasons why older, frail adults lack expressive touch in their lives.

Glove Culture and Expressive Touch

Infection control is consistently cited by skilled nursing employees as a reason for the lack of expressive touch in the lives of older adults.    Furthermore, employees fear citations from surveyors for not using gloves.

Megan J. DiGiorgio, MSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC  coins the phrase “glove culture”.  In addition to the wasteful use of resources, the over-use of gloves increases disconnection and a lack of trust in caregivers, among other negative outcomes.

Burdsall, Deborah Patterson, MSN, Ph.D.,  identified situations that require the use of gloves.  Touching intact, non-infectious skin of older adults in healthcare settings does not require gloves.

Skilled nursing caregivers do expressively touch their residents.  Indeed, holding a hand or giving a hug communicates how much we care and provides comfort.  We can incorporate more of this excellent medicine of expressive touch in our caregiving practices and still uphold infection prevention standards.

Gloves are not used with Compassionate Touch techniques. I urge those I am teaching to resist the temptation. The benefits of touch would be lost for both the resident and care provider.

Consider evaluating the extent to which gloves are used in your community and understand the unintended consequences.  Even more, it seems like this would be a worthwhile QAPI project.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  she provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Elevating the Vocation of Aging Services Certified Nursing Assistants

The shortage of Certified Nursing Assistants in Aging Services is reaching a critical point.  Piled on top of the current shortage is the projected need.  However, systemic and sustainable solutions have evaded the industry.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for personal care aides to grow by an astounding 38%  to the year 2026.  Consequently,  this leaves many aging services providers panicked and scrambling to attract and retain qualified and caring nursing assistants.

More importantly, we need a new generation of dedicated persons who have a calling and see this work as their vocation.

Expecting a high level of dedication from nursing assistants in an industry that does very little to advance the vocation seems unrealistic. Therefore, creating a vision for a new role of the C.N.A needs attention from a national, state and organizational strategic level.

Possibilities for a New Role

Recently, I had the pleasure to meet with Karen Messer, CEO, and President of LeadingAge Illinois.  Karen and her team are responding to challenges facing association members by developing workforce solutions and resources.

Karen and I discussed ways to elevate the esteem and professional standards of the certified nursing assistant.  As a result, we started running down the list of potential skills-building opportunities.  Noteworthy ideas include fall prevention expert, medication aide, dementia care coach.  Also consider life enrichment facilitator, mechanical lift trainer, oral care technician, infection prevention certified.

Adding on specialties and certifications to the vocation of a certified nursing assistant will elevate the esteem of the position.  In addition, it will create a needed career path.

Cash strapped Chief Financial Officers will be concerned about paying more.  Therefore, I encourage organizations to consider the positive impact of reduced hiring and turnover activity, increased census,  and improved job satisfaction and morale of their staff.

Begin with starting a conversation in your community about how you can nurture the potential of your C.N.As.  As a result,  build a sustainable workforce solution to propel your organization into the future.

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  she provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving to private and professional caregivers.  She is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

Is it Possible for Doctors to Provide Compassionate Care?

The Physician’s Oath promises to approach all patients with integrity, candor, empathy, and respect.  I believe that most doctors take their oath seriously.  I believe most doctors study very hard because they truly want to help other people and make a positive difference in the field of medicine.  Doctors have a tremendous responsibility in today’s messy healthcare environment.  They work long hours, have many patients and deal with lots of complications to ultimately deliver the care that their patients need.  So, is it really possible for doctors to provide compassionate care?

I will speak only from a patient and patient advocate perspective, after having been a caregiver to my aging parents for many years.  Most doctors want to listen to their patients and get to know them beyond their medical conditions.  I really believe that.  I think most doctors would agree that the complexities of healthcare take away from the time they would like to spend with their patients and families so that they can be a source of compassion and guidance.

For doctors to provide compassionate care, they must have time.  Unfortunately,  this is rarely a luxury, if at all.  Treating patients medical needs is first and foremost when it comes down to it.  Having the time to converse and get to know their patients is almost unheard of these days.  So how can doctors provide compassionate care when the odds are stacked against them in so many ways.

In dementia training, we teach the importance of eye-to-eye contact,  slowing down, speaking with respect to another person, gently holding one’s hand to provide comfort among other simple gestures. These are signs of compassionate care that take no more time than the alternative.  Sometimes a smile or caring concern is all it takes to quickly make another person feel like they are important to another person – even if it’s brief.

Doctors are fixers, and it’s natural in their hurried days to be focused on fixing what’s wrong.  And no doubt that is monumentally important.  As healers, though, a doctor can and should practice compassionate care even though the odds are often stacked against you.  Compassionate care can be taught, learned and passed on to others. It’s an emotional, spiritual and transformational gift that you give another person shown with the simplest of gestures.

Compassion can be felt by another just by the gift of your genuine presence.

Pam Brandon is President of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  She is the creator of the Dementia Live® Simulation and Awareness Program.  

Did Your Know that Practicing Gratitude Can Actually Improve Your Health and Well Being

Don’t you enjoy being around people who are naturally grateful?  Can we cultivate an attitude of gratefulness ourselves?  Of course, we can!  Practicing gratitude not only is good for our souls but can improve our health and well- being.

Let’s look at some research:

  • A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, it was concluded that subjects who wrote down what they’re thankful for just before bed fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.
  • A University of Utah study showed that gratefulness is linked with optimism, and optimism has been linked to a better and stronger immune system.
  • A 1995 study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that appreciation and positive emotions may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • A 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude can boost pro-social behaviors, such as helping and lending emotional support to others, while a series of experiments detailed in the same journal concluded that a daily practice of listing all the things for which you are thankful is linked with a brighter outlook on life and a greater sense of positivity.

Like other good habits, practicing gratitude can be learned – at any age!  Here are a few suggestions for fostering gratitude in your life.

  • Keep a gratitude journal where you write down specifically what you are thankful for.  You’ll be amazed at how long your list becomes with a regular habit of journal writing.
  • Take a break a few times a day to focus on a spirit of thankfulness.  It might be a moment of meditation, prayer or walk in the garden.  Just slowing down for a moment to think about the things in your life that you are thankful for will become a habit of practicing gratitude.
  • Surround yourself with thankful people!  This may sound simple, but gratitude is contagious and being around people who are practicing gratitude will naturally be a mood lifter.
  • Share with others what you are thankful for.  It will not only help you in practicing gratitude but will also reinforce your feelings and inspire others.

Like any habit, gratitude gets easier with daily practice.  Let today be the first day of your healthy, grateful life!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Please let me know if you this is helpful!