Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Person-Centered Care

Nursing Homes are focusing on an important dimension to services to elders in their care.  It is called Person-Centered Care.  The concept is not new to Isabella but may be a new way to describe diverting attention away from store-housing elderly, frail people to a renewed commitment to any individual who takes up residence in our Nursing Home.    Isabella’s mission has always been “to provide quality care through diverse programs designed to promote health and independence within and without our walls.”  Person-centered care zeros in on this dedication to physical, mental and emotional health of the individual resident. It is an expression of faithful adherence to the original inspiration for founding Isabella.

Creating Home Again
What does a person–centered care approach look like in practical terms?  At Isabella elders can choose to participate in a variety of recreational activities; they receive affectionate attention from staff they encounter during the course of a day. We see this caring in the warm smiles of nursing assistants, and the help a resident receives from staff “going h/her way” to another locale in Isabella. Residents and staff always welcome the many volunteers who want to spend time in the neighborhoods of Isabella. Residents who have outlived their families especially value their visits.

Another way Isabella counters the isolating effects of life in a Nursing Home is the Home Again Ambassador Program. Staff volunteers can become part of the Ambassador group which orchestrates games, song sessions, and storytelling in ways that encourage positive resident to resident interaction.

Isabella fosters the spirit of caring through a Person Centered Care committee composed of staff from different disciplines and job titles. Person Centered Care workgroups have measures by which they keep track of efforts to effect change. Currently a Dining Services project is underway.  New changes in menu items reflect the choices of Isabella residents, delivery of meals in steam tables rather than in institutional type trays and the presence of dining hosts attempt to make the dining experience more enjoyable. Basic to the project are gracious interactions among staff and between staff and residents as together they create a pleasant ambience at mealtimes.   

In all these ways Isabella keeps growing as a home where person-centered care is the number one priority.

By: Angela Menghraj

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not for Women Only

Let it not be said Nursing Homes are for women only.  Isabella has a wonderfully diverse population.  Of the 700 residents who live at Isabella 219 are men.  So what is happening to make Isabella a comfortable place for men?  Indeed the women of Isabella enjoy quilting, the European Club, and bingo.  Pastimes many enjoyed in their more independent days.

But what brings the men of Isabella together for conversation and fun?  It is the Men’s Group, the idea of Felicita Cruz, (Recreation).  She called on other staff members to contribute their talents to the newly formed gathering of men.  It didn’t take long before volunteers were escorting men from the various Isabella neighborhoods on Wednesday afternoons to one of the community dining rooms. About 15 come together at any one time.

The men began by introducing themselves to one another.  Future Echoes dancer, Ray Centeno (Finance) offered to lead the men in sharing memories of life in New York, jobs and their experiences in wars, civil rights and music of a bygone day.  Jokes and trivia spark conversation.  Sometimes Ray begins with a guided meditation enhanced by a background of Native American music.

There is definitely excitement in the air as Ray sets up percussion instruments of bongos, castanets, and drums.  The residents are delighted to play.  Rebecca Hernandez (Finance) joins Ray and the two twirl and step to the magical beat of trance dance, jazz and Latin rhythms.

At other gatherings Michael Robinson, a physical exercise trainer  (Environmental Services) demonstrates routines. The men flex their muscles as they follow along.  Recruitment for a sports enthusiast has begun so the group can welcome in the baseball season with the excitement it brings.
While this is all going on the men are enjoying refreshments of beer and chips.  Not so bad for a Nursing Home. If a woman attempts to join the fun she is greeted by a resounding, “Men Only”.  The Men’s Group is a good time for male companionship and entertainment.

The idea of having a Men’s Group has caught on and other Isabella communities have begun similar gatherings of men.  The Isabella Men’s Group is an example of how creative thinking fosters person-centered care in innovative and fun ways.