All posts by Pam Brandon

Senior Care – How Our Pets Teach Us Life Lessons

pet lossHow Losing A Pet Is Much Like Losing a Loved One

Our pets are like members of the family. Meet Sadie – our vivacious, furry family member pictured here at 3 months old. Labrador Retrievers at this age are a non-stop ball of energy. Leave a sock on the floor and it instantly becomes a pile of thread, or a new game of hide and seek. Strangers? I don’t think Sadie ever knew that word existed. Water? That’s meant for swimming.. endlessly.

Sadie was, as my son described her, the MVP of campers. In fact, our treasured family camping trips centered around Sadie. Will there be a lake or hiking trails? And Sadie always chose where and with whom she wanted to sleep at any given time. Since our activities centered around what Sadie would enjoy, it made things easy. She loved EVERYTHING about camping, especially being with us and meeting new friends. Sadie would always introduce herself to our camping neighbors. She would sometimes wander off to explore new trails, strange critters, and/or new scents but she always came back to her family because she loved us and she knew she was the queen bee.

Saying good-bye to Sadie

With the whole family present and a lot of tears, we had to have Sadie laid to rest last week. At over 14, she was in ill health; despite pain medications and other palliative measures, it was clear that every day was a struggle for her to get around. And while she couldn’t tell us what parts of her body were failing her, we could sense growing discomfort and complications taking place. Up to the very last second of her life, Sadie never stopped pouring out her boundless love and certainly relished the affection and trust we shared. Our relationship over the years was a bond that encircled our lives. Even as our children grew up and left home, that bond would be rekindled in an instant with Sadie when they came home to visit.

How pets teach us about life

Pets are soulful creatures that teach us about the importance of trusting relationships, comfort, touch, playfulness, love of nature and so much more. These traits never left Sadie.. not even when she was at the end of life. These intact abilities remain for us humans as we age. There are many good websites that deal with the loss of a beloved pet.  Here is a good blog that deals with pet grieving. It talks about pets in a very human way.


Dementia Training Regulations – Positive Changes in Resident Care

Dementia Training RegulationsNew CMS dementia training regulations to enhance person-centered care practices. Any new regulation makes us quiver. More paperwork, increased oversight, complex guidelines. But the new CMS dementia training requirements under Section 483.95 is one step closer to creating communities focused on person-centered care.
Training will be extended beyond nurse aides to include all staff.
This is huge! It only makes sense that if nurse aides receive quality dementia training that this include therapy, social services, dietary, dining services, management, volunteers and contracted employees. When everyone who interacts with that resident or patient is trained in communications and responding to behaviors, we will see culture changes taking place, more accurate accountability and outcomes tracking and a more satisfied workforce.
Innovative dementia training across the long term care spectrum is growing exponentially as eldercare becomes more about dementia care.
Leaders should be looking not only at core competency training but how their education and training will be integrated and serve as an ongoing team building and staff development tool. What measures will be established to ensure that staff empowerment is taking place, particularly in the challenging areas of communications, understanding resident rights, abuse prevention and behavioral health.
Workforce retention is a hot topic and promises to be at the top of the list for many years. If training programs do not tools and techniques that will empower and instill confidence in skills, encourage new ideas (that we listen to and implement!), we will see far too many front line workers leave the senior care industry. None of us can afford to see this happen.
What a great time to reassess where we’ve been in the areas of staff training and ongoing education for all of our stakeholders, and we include families and our local community when we look at the far reaching effects that dementia has at all levels of our society.
New regulations are the impetus for us to change our thinking and this is exciting!

Federal Register

Person Centered Care…Moving the Mission Forward

Person-Centered Care
I had the privilege to lead a session on our Dementia Live™and Compassionate Touch® person-centered care programs at the recent American Health Care Association National Convention in Nashville last week.  As part of the Dementia Education Track faculty, it was such an honor to speak to so many passionate leaders who are stepping out of the box and doing amazing things to transform their communities. I love to listen to the success stories and challenges as it helps us  grow as an organization in helping those we serve.

Kenneth Gronbach’s fantastic keynote address was a clear reminder to us all that the Age Curve is not going to happen – it’s here.   And the numbers speak for themselves. It is a clear reminder that as we face the aging tsunami we  as leaders, MUST look forward in the way we will care for our aging population.

The medical model of care is shifting – albeit a bit too slow for those of us with a mission to see person-centered care become the standard. But let’s focus on the good things happening.  One is the new federal and state regulations that require higher standards of training across the spectrum. This is going to have a great affect on pushing person and patient centered care initiatives to the forefront.

The big question is how we will move the Mission Forward to produce real culture change in our organizations. This takes much more than goals of teaching core competencies. It’s a matter of prioritizing the quality of training, how it will be integrated and the big challenge – how it will be sustainable within your organization.  Culture change happens when everyone – those who live in, work and visit your communities – think, feel and act differently.

We are moving to fast on the Age Curve to rest on what we’ve been doing and look at what CAN be done. I look forward to sharing in future blogs the incredible work that is being down around the world to transform eldercare.  It’s an exciting time to be working together in moving the mission forward!

Senior Care – Who Will Care for Us When It’s Our Turn

senior careSenior Care

Thank you to Pioneer Network for allowing us to share these thoughts..

Houston, We Have a Problem
Ruta Kadonoff
Executive Director, Pioneer Network

Is it just me, or are there red flags everywhere lately, calling on us to take notice of the impending collision between our demographics and our workforce trends? Evidence is mounting and the chorus of voices is growing, begging us to recognize that we are on the brink of true crisis. I see many parallels between this issue and the climate change discussion. Whatever your personal convictions about possible causes and potential solutions to either, the data seem to be increasingly clear and screaming ever-louder, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’

I’d like to share a few quotes that have been rattling around in my head over recent days and weeks …

“We’re never going to attract a workforce unless they are going to get paid a livable wage, or at least a somewhat livable wage, and benefits.”
– Betsy Sawyer-Manter, Executive Director, SeniorsPlus, quoted in Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)

Continue reading