Category Archives: Senior Care Professionals

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.  

The NICHE difference: Preparing Our Long-Term Care Workforce for Tomorrow

We are thrilled to have recently announced our collaboration with NICHE – Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders, a nation-wide nursing education and consultation program designed to improve geriatric care in healthcare organizations through education and mentorship.

The NICHE Acute Care Program, founded in 1992 is part of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing.  The program promotes the use of evidence-based clinical interventions and establishes nurses as leaders to effect positive change in caring for the growing aging population.  NICHE empowers front-line nurses to build a team and develop organizational and workforce competencies to improve the health and wellbeing of older adults they serve.

The NICHE long-term care(LTC) program prepares nurses and certified nurse assistants (CNAs) to achieve organizational goals for the care of older adults patients.  The NICHE-LTC promotes the use of evidence-based clinical interventions and establishes nurses as leaders to bring about changes in the quality of care delivered to older adults in LTC and PAC (post-acute care) facilities.

The LTC curriculum is designed around the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating System so organizations uphold the nationally recognized standards for LTC.  A few examples of Quality Measures include:

  • Ability to move independently and participate in activities of daily living
  • High-risk residents with pressure ulcers
  • Re-hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and discharge to the community
  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Falls with major injury
  • Antipsychotic medications

NICHE resources include highly engaging webinars, Need to Know patient and family consumerism, LTC Leadership Training, Implementation Courses, and Clinical and Quality Improvement Modules, and an Evaluation and Recognition Process.

Our shared mission that quality training empowers staff will lead to higher CNA retention and improved care:

  • Nursing homes whose nursing staff have enhanced knowledge and skills perform better on quality metrics.
  • CNA’s who receive specialized training on common health issues experienced by older adults are capable of providing better care to residents and feel more confident in performing their work.
  • Opportunities for CNAs to participate in training programs not only empower them with knowledge and skills to carry out their work but also reinforce their important role in achieving organization-wide quality improvement goals.
  • CNA’s who receive high-quality training are more likely to report that they are satisfied with their jobs and job satisfaction is directly linked to CNA retention.

Quality elder care is critically important and NICHE programs provide the tools and resources that elevate Acute and Long-Term care organizations to a level of excellence.  As the need for dementia training increases, our relationship with NICHE will serve to better prepare the workforce for the special needs of those living with cognitive differences.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE–u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  Pam is the creator of the Dementia Live® Sensitivity Awareness Training program and led the development of  the Compassionate Touch® training for persons living with Dementia and End-of-Life care.  

Can Computer Access in Long Term Care Improve Quality of Life?

The importance of computer access for people living in long term care facilities is on the rise.  As the number of seniors using technology increases, so will use of personal computers, smart phones, tablets and social media no matter where they live. One study found that among people 65 and older:

  • Four-in-ten  own smartphones.
  • 67% have internet access in their homes.
  • 32% own tablet computers.
  • 34% use social media regularly.

Those numbers will likely increase as baby boomers age.  Anyone working in senior services see instances where technology access enhances quality of life.

I once volunteered at the Rowe Sanctuary in Nebraska,  along the Platte River. Thousands of Sand Hill Cranes gather there on their way north.  People from around the world visit to witness this spectacle.  I was given the task of operating what is called the Crane Cam.  It is a remote camera on the river. Its images are sent to the web through the National Geographic website.  While operating the camera, a couple approached.  I explained how it all worked. The woman said her mother was in a nursing home in another state. She  has been an avid bird and visited the sanctuary several times. However, now that she is in a facility she could no longer bird watch. Her daughter had recently set up a computer in her mother’s room .  Her mother could now look in on the Cranes via the internet!

A man I provided Compassionate Touch sessions to for several years used a PC to write poetry and letters to his family. He was a successful business man in his career. His desk and computer helped retain part of his identity that was important to him.

A young man with cerebral palsy who lives in a facility regularly plays games and records music on his PC . Sounds like a typical 20 year old, doesn’t it?.  His keyboard is modified compensating for his poor coordination, therefore he manages  independently.

I think we will see more individuals in facility care with personal computers.  It might serve to lessen the feelings of isolation and boredom that plague so many who must reside in long term care.

What are your thoughts about the link between technology and quality of life for those in facility care?

Ann Catlin, OTR, LMT: For twenty years, Ann led in the field of skilled touch in eldercare and hospice. She has nearly forty years’ clinical experience as an occupational and massage therapist. She created Age-u-cate’s Compassionate Touch program and serves as a Master Trainer and training consultant.

Learn the The ABC of Compassionate Communication

I’m delighted to share that our Australian Master Trainer, Sue Silcox has authored and published a book – The ABC of Compassionate Communication.  Sue is passionate about helping people become empowered through learning, practice, support, and self-care.

Brain Sparks and the ABC of Compassionate Communication is the result of her many years of working and playing with people of all ages, many of whom needed more compassion in their lives as well as an empathetic ear.

In the ABC of Compassionate Communication you will learn:

  • How we can use our brain to increase empathy
  • Where we can connect with other people and groups
  • When friendships matter
  • What laughter has to do with compassion
  • Why people react the way they do

We communicate every day.  Sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in frighteningly revealing ways, mostly in different ways in between. Often we are misunderstood, or we interpret the messages incorrectly.  Becoming aware of how, through understanding, we can send and receive those message with compassion will make not only the lives of those we love and care for better but ours too.

Through this easy-to-read book, which uses the letters of the alphabet to describe steps to compassionate communication, you will receive twenty-six facets of compassionate and their relationship to improved communication compiled in a way that you will have not seen before.  Each facet gives you the chance to delve deeper with tips and ideas that you can try for yourself.

In the ABC of Compassionate Communication, Sue starts by asking our aware are you, firstly of your own self?  Self-awareness helps us find our strengths and allows us to work out where we need to improve.  Self-reflecting on situations can show us where we match up to our expectations and values.

Sue points out that working on your self-awareness brings benefits not only to you but to those around you.  Thinking about how you reacted with others brings awareness to your connections with others and ultimately makes you happier.

The book is full of compassionate communication tips that will serve anyone, especially those who care for persons living with dementia.  This book may be ordered through the Brain Sparks website.

Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate Advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  She is the Creator of Dementia Live® Sensitivity Awareness Program, helping caregivers worldwide to better understand and communicate with persons living with dementia.  

Sue Silcox is Australia’s AGE-u-cate® Lead Trainer and may be reached at Sue@brainsparks.com.au