What is Home?

We recently hosted a workshop for our Resident Services Directors. We invited a speaker, Tam Cummings, a Dementia expert, to talk with our teams. We will be sharing more of her information with our families and invite you to come in and learn more.  In the meantime, I want to share one of the best nuggets from her visit. The question of "home" come to us a lot with our families. Mom or Dad will talk about wanting to go back home once they move into a community. Sometimes families try to take Mom or Dad back and they no longer recognize it. This is tricky for kids because they are trying to satisfy their needs. What Tam recommends what we are suggesting to all families is the following: Home is a satin pillow, the most comfortable pillow. It is this sheets: satin, cotton, colorful or not, a favorite chair a favorite piece of art. It is not the large things that our lives are made of. It is the smaller things that evoke a memory. Tha is what home is.

Is Anything Possible? YES!

In our industry folks talk a lot about acuity levels.  What does acuity level mean -- in normal terms? Acuity level means the amount of care a person needs; if they are very frail they need more care and attention.  It is also a word we use to look at programming.  What can a resident do or not do? We are constantly working with our teams to challenge that belief and ask in the following; what would happen if we didn't think in terms of being able to do or not do, if we didn't think in terms of acuity level? We tell our children they can do anything. Why should it be any different as we age?  For example: Residents at our Memory Care Community in Dallas are busy creating art pieces for an Art Show they will be hosting in September, residents at our community in Santa Barbara worked with the Mayor to redesign newspaper racks throughout the city, and residents at our community in Austin adopted at-risk youth and mentor them throughout the school year.  These are just a few examples of what is possible - not what is not possible. (We can call it life after BINGO!) I encourage you to look at your own life, as well as the senior you might care for and ask, what is possible?  These are big examples, what about smaller things? Could a resident with severe Parkinson's Disease allow a 7 year old to remove her old nail polish and reapply new nail polish, allowing both to feel a moment of success? YES! Could a resident knit over 100 hats for a NICU and donate them with some of her friends? YES! Could a resident who hasn't played the piano in years come to the lobby and entertain a new group of fans? YES! So... YES I do believe that anything is possible.  Come to any of our communities and see for yourself, what life without "acuity level" meansit's truly inspirational!

Our Teams weigh in on our Mission

"When I come to work I see I am kindly reminded how wonderful life is just by the smile on his face.  Here he comes!  "Coffee Time"  - We Serve our Elders - Mr. Bob is a wonderful smart man, I have learn to care, to love and to listen to him. - We offer unconditional love - Drinking his coffee and sharing his stories about the time he served in the military you better listen to him otherwise he gets upset his expression: no, no, no.  He was a good cook; loves pasta, fried chicken, hot dogs... You better continue listening to Bob or you might get quizzed... Again, No, No, No... - We nurture personal growth - at the end of the coffee time, he wished me a good rest and a good night, he looks so happy with a big smile and, this is the way - We celebrate life - Love to share and hear residents stories trying to make the best out of their lives and this is the way - We make a difference. "

--Dora T. -- Parsons House Cypress

The Trouble with Choices

 

We enjoy meeting with new families so very much; we love hearing stories about what makes that particular family special, what their mom or dad has done over the span of their lives, and why that person is so special to them.  

We also listen to stories about the hard times a family has gone through, the struggles a family faces when providing assistance, then help, and then care for their loved ones.  Every family that walks through our door usually talks about the commitment they made to their mom or dad, usually on the fly, that they would never, "put mom in a home". Many families struggle with even calling us that first time because they promised something different. The moment that families promise they will never put mom or dad "in a home" and the moment when they pick up the phone to call us for the first time are very difficult moments and the path from the "promise" to "the call" is a long and windy one.

At first mom is at home and someone notices that she is a little more unstable on her feet, a family member offers to hire a housekeeper to help with the chores, a few months or years later, a family member notices there is a need for more handrails in the house.  Perhaps a daughter starts to take mom to her doctor's appointments because the information coming back doesn't make as much sense as it once did.  Then the daughter starts to pick up the prescriptions at the pharmacy, a neighbor starts to bring over food, and on and on and on.  

These little steps happen over a series of years - not overnight.  There is a point in every families' decision making process where they come to the realization that the risk of what is happening to mom at home is greater than the risk of moving her into a community.  So getting "put into a home" is not the choice or the promise, it's the culmination of years of small decisions that lead up to a list. The list usually consists of medication management, assistance with preparing meals and a need for more social interaction, versus the risk of making the wrong choice and disappointing mom, dad, family, and friends.  

Ninety-five percent of the time we hear, "we wish we had done this sooner; mom is so happy and we are too because we've got our mom back".  We see the successful lives people have with us, we know this is a good option, and we know home is always the best, but there are times when it is not the most practical.  

We know this is a challenge - We're here to help!

 

The Trouble with Choices

 

We enjoy meeting with new families so very much; we love hearing stories about what makes that particular family special, what their mom or dad has done over the span of their lives, and why that person is so special to them.  

We also listen to stories about the hard times a family has gone through, the struggles a family faces when providing assistance, then help, and then care for their loved ones.  Every family that walks through our door usually talks about the commitment they made to their mom or dad, usually on the fly, that they would never, "put mom in a home". Many families struggle with even calling us that first time because they promised something different. The moment that families promise they will never put mom or dad "in a home" and the moment when they pick up the phone to call us for the first time are very difficult moments and the path from the "promise" to "the call" is a long and windy one.

At first mom is at home and someone notices that she is a little more unstable on her feet, a family member offers to hire a housekeeper to help with the chores, a few months or years later, a family member notices there is a need for more handrails in the house.  Perhaps a daughter starts to take mom to her doctor's appointments because the information coming back doesn't make as much sense as it once did.  Then the daughter starts to pick up the prescriptions at the pharmacy, a neighbor starts to bring over food, and on and on and on.  

 

These little steps happen over a series of years - not overnight.  There is a point in every families' decision making process where they come to the realization that the risk of what is happening to mom at home is greater than the risk of moving her into a community.  So getting "put into a home" is not the choice or the promise, it's the culmination of years of small decisions that lead up to a list. The list usually consists of medication management, assistance with preparing meals and a need for more social interaction, versus the risk of making the wrong choice and disappointing mom, dad, family, and friends.  

Ninety-five percent of the time we hear, "we wish we had done this sooner; mom is so happy and we are too because we've got our mom back".  We see the successful lives people have with us, we know this is a good option, and we know home is always the best, but there are times when it is not the most practical.  

We know this is a challenge - We're here to help!
 

Can Caregviers be friends with Residents??

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus


There are many opinions about this...

1. Paid caregivers should never be friends with their clients/ residents/ patients

2. Most clients/ residents/ patients would rather receive care from someone they had a friendly relationship with.

Professional caregivers are trained to avoid personal relationships with their clients.  There are lots of good reasons why this policy is standard in health care agencies: emotional investment could skew clinical judgment, agency staff might make private arrangements for employment, thus leaving the agency out of the picture, or the caregiver might give ‘unequal’ quality of care to favored clients who are also friends.
 

The concerns are legitimate, but is there a way to be friends without offering favoritism. There are many versions of friendship in our lives, work friends, church friends, friends from your children's school, friends that have been friends forever, friends from the gym etc... In each of these relationships we interact in a different way.  The long term friends may know everything about you, newer friends may not. 

The friendships we have with our residents are caring, kind, considerate and thoughtful, the friendships offers enrichment to both the resident and caregiver, through conversations, moments of success and through harder times.  The friendships we develop with residents and  families, enrich us not because the residents or families want to do this, because it just happens. 

Each family, each family member, each resident enters our community with their stories of their lives.  We get to know the happy times, the hard times and everything in between.  Each day we are touched by the texture of the lives of all that we serve, and are inspired by it to to more. 

 

Talking about Dementia

As part of our staff training for our Memory Care program we provide our staff with twice weekly "Tuesday/ Thursday Tid Bits", this information add to our care teams tool belt so they may have some fresh ways to work with our residents.  A review we just rolled out highlighted the different types of Dementia (the Alzheimer's Association has great resources for this.)

For more information look at this link: http://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp.