Guest Columns

Shaking up the world of restorative nursing

Angie McAllister
Angie McAllister

In the world of skilled nursing care, many are left pursuing antiquated programming options. Many times these options may serve a “clinical” purpose but more often than not can leave staff members feeling drained and unexcited about routine approaches to treatment in these areas.

Restorative nursing often ranks at the top of the list for programming modules that many clinical leaders want to improve or build upon but are often left scrambling for time to develop new ideas and approaches.

With this point in mind, Signature Hometown really began to pursue another model. How could we flip the way WE view restorative programming? Surely if we viewed it differently, others would as well?

Fast forward to several months later. We've created a new individualized design model that focuses on promoting holistic care was born. In understanding and learning that care should really be focused on helping individuals to grow instead of prioritizing treatment options, we set off down a new path.

Our first stamp on the passport to holistic restorative nursing came with the launch of Race Route 66 in June. The launch has been very successful, with over 55 homes participating during the first week alone. As part of Race Route 66, elders form teams at each community and participate in a virtual race down the historic Route 66 highway! This highway runs from Chicago to Los Angeles and is equal to the distance of 2,451 miles overall. During the race, elders are outfitted with pedometers and are encouraged to monitor their steps daily to increase participation levels.

A key tenet of the program is that communities do not limit participation within the community to only those who are ambulatory. If an elder can “self-propel” a wheelchair to participate he or she is encouraged to become part of the team and enter the race! This concept broadens the scope of restorative nursing to include those who need both active and passive range of motion. It also allows for those with limited mobility to participate in the community's wellness initiatives.

Another innovative part of the program design is the fact that this presents opportunities for elders to take a “virtual” vacation to key cities along Route 66 over the coming months. Each home received a “Race Guide” that is complete with ideas for special events, meals and themed outings that coincide with the city they have reached on the map. For example, homes kicked off on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Some communities debuted with intergenerational baseball games, shopping that imitated that of Navy Pier, and interactive art galleries that mocked that of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The course itself consists of 9 stops altogether. Six of these stops are designated “Pit Stops” in which teams will visit their surroundings for a week before resuming the race. Three of the stops are “Detours.” During the detour, a team must complete a challenge before they can proceed further. For example when teams reach Santa Fe, NM, they must complete one of the three challenges to continue. One of those challenges would be to host an art class “recreating” one of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings as the Georgia O'Keefe Museum is housed in Santa Fe. Once completed teams can progress towards the Pit Stop.

Another element to the program is the fact that it promotes wellness breaks for our stakeholders. They are encouraged to take a stroll with an elder during the day and are rewarded when they do! We anticipate this will be essential in cultivating stronger relationships between our elders and stakeholders.

With four weeks behind us, we feel the program is successful. The teams of elders and stakeholders, sporting their team attire and armed with their Route 66 maps are changing the culture of the “old drab way” to a new way for our revolution one step at a time.

Angie McAllister is the Director of Cultural Transformation-Signature Hometown in Kentucky.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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