Category Archives: Senior Care Professionals

Employee Education = Engagement = Quality Care

Employees at Emerald Health and Rehab in North Carolina are immersed in education about the positive effects of expressive touch.

We understand the negative impact on quality care as a result of high employee turnover.  However, more elusive is an understanding of how lackluster engagement of employees with longevity impacts quality.

Much of the focus is on recruiting new employees, and rightly so. Estimates show employee turnover nationally at 45%-66%.

At the same time, it is important that we also maintain the spirit and engagement of current employees. However, scare resources have forced employers in Aging Services to make tough decisions.

Cuts into the marrow of the employee education budget in light of the current staffing challenges could be devastating.  In doing so, we inadvertently create a more disengaged workforce and impair quality.

Defense Against Declining Quality Care

The vital connection in health care is that employee engagement drives quality of care. To that end, one of the best ways to engage employees is through ongoing hands-on education and training.

Guard against what could become turn-over induced decline in quality with a robust and engaging employee education program for your experienced and dedicated employees.

Employees with longevity have also felt the devastation of workforce challenges.  Fatigue with over-time and the constant flow of new employees in and out impacts the spirit of our dedicated workers.  All the more reason to dedicate resources and efforts towards their ongoing growth and engagement.

The absence of training appears on this list of reasons for poor employee engagement. Employees with longevity also need to continue to learn and adopt best practices. In doing so, we ensure the evolution of our quality of care and service.

In conclusion,  a corporate culture that supports growth and education for long-term employees will promote engaged workers and defend against declining quality care and service.

 

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,  Julie 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.

Alone Together: Combating Loneliness in Long Term Care

Loneliness plagues the elderly in long term care.

Promoting quality of life is an essential component for any successful aging services organization.  Many things impair quality of life, but most impactful is loneliness- which I think is one of the most challenging issues to addres

The effects of loneliness amongst the elderly are well documented.  Without a doubt, it is an issue that deserves attention from aging services leaders.

Create New Connections

Jamie Ducharme cites research that indicates meaningful social contact and forming relationships is the best anecdote for loneliness.
To that end, I came across a Ted Talk from an extraordinary young man.  His simple, cost-effective idea for combating loneliness is to take letter writing to a new level.

Imagine the impact on a resident who receives a real-snail-mail letter every day!  Knowing that someone cares is a powerful antidote for loneliness.

Our employees,  neighborhood churches,  fire department personnel,  students,  senior center members all might be willing to become letter-writing partners.  It is such a lovely way to help someone feel special and less alone.

Deepen Existing Relationships

Research reveals that often times, nursing assistants perceive tacit messages from management not get too attached to residents.  Therefore, perceived or real, let’s start working on building deeper bonds.

Creating a culture that supports deep and meaningful relationships between residents and caregivers helps to combat loneliness.  In addition, it improves trust between residents and caregivers.

By no means is this a simple issue, but we can begin by understanding the barriers that prevent deeper caregiving relationships and create opportunities for our employees to more deeply connect with residents.   As a result, it may help to chip away at the feelings of loneliness for our residents.  Additionally, it could  improve the quality of the work experience for employees.

By creative programming and inspiring deeper caregiving relationships,  we may be able to make some inroads in curtailing loneliness and improving quality of life.

 

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.

Tips for Seniors Living Well

Seniors Living Well

Seniors today are living longer; however, are they living well into old age? The National Wellness Institute tells us that “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” Indeed, the choices we make along the way determine the degree of wellness we’ll enjoy as we age. But how can cultivate a healthy, satisfying life?

The National Council for Aging Care offers some tips. First of all, develop healthy eating habits with whole foods and plenty of water. Next, keep your body and brain active. Find a physical activity you enjoy and challenge your mind in creative ways. Learn something new. Another key is to stay connected with others to avoid the pitfalls of social isolation. Reach out for help when life throws you a challenge. Also, pay attention to your appearance and keep up to date on popular culture and discover what’s buzzing with younger people. Finally, take precautions such as regular health check-ups and fall prevention measures in your home

I once was a passenger aboard a Great Lakes cruise ship. In case you’re wondering, yes, the Great Lakes are big enough to cruise on– and then some. What stood out were my fellow passengers– many of whom are in their 80′s. One woman celebrated her 94th birthday, while a couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  At nearly 60, I was almost the youngest person on board.  Now don’t get me wrong; these seniors did not run marathons. Many had physical challenges.  But they didn’t stop them from going on daily excursions and having a great time. One woman with severe scoliosis went on most tours including going down in a copper mine, complete with hard-hat! Another 92-year-old woman told me that she had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer; however, her doctor and family supported her decision to go on this trip. In spite of her illness, her attitude was sunny and positive. It seemed like she was content to stay on the ship taking in the scenery, smiling all the while.

Both of these women are examples of living well in spite of the challenges that may occur along the way. It was inspiring to be with people who didn’t stop living a fulfilling life in their senior years.

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.

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.