"I hope Santa brings me a Sony DS," my 7-year-old told me the other day. I can tell you right now that Santa is NOT bringing her a video game player, but I didn't want to tell her that. So I did what I imagine most parents would do in that situation: I asked her what else she hoped Santa would bring. What does this have to do with long-term care? As it turns out, a lot.
The upcoming holidays are an ideal time to provide extra services that showcase your high level of care and make the seasons more pleasant for families and residents.
Since I now Skype regularly with my 94-year old father-in-law and his wife, the concept of telemental health doesn't seem as futuristic to me as it used to seem. I was shocked to discover, however, that the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) was established 20 years ago, with the first applications of telemedicine occurring over 40 years ago. Apparently, I've been behind the times.
I used to live in a fabulous old fourth-floor walk-up apartment in Manhattan. When I moved out of Manhattan to a borough of New York City for an elevator building with a laundry room in the basement, I made a conscious choice to pick a place I could live for the rest of my life if I had to. "That ramp could come in handy if I need a wheelchair, I reasoned. And if worse comes to worse, I'll move into a nursing home and blog from there."
I was very pleased when I heard there was a program about a long-term care facility on British television. Finally we're getting our props — at least overseas.
Of the most efficient countries for healthcare, the United States ranks second in healthcare costs per capita but 46th in efficiency (out of the 48 countries ranked!). The move from a biomedical to a biopsychosocial model of healthcare might be able to change that. Maybe you're already doing it without realizing it, in fact.
Last week, McKnight's staff writer Tim Mullaney wrote about the new Medicare guidance that guarantees that same-sex married couples can live in the same nursing home. Is your staff prepared to offer them the same respectful service as always, and are you prepared to lead, regardless of your personal beliefs? I'll bet you're not.
As a psychologist consulting in long-term care facilities, I provided a lot more than I was paid for, because it was needed. But there was much more help that I didn't offer, not only because I wasn't paid for it, but also because the organization wasn't structured to accept this type of assistance.
According to researchers, 11% to 43% of LTC residents have thoughts of suicide, with higher rates in larger facilities and in those with more staff turnover. Other stressors include medical illness, the presence of a mood disorder such as depression, social isolation, and recent life stressors - factors that frequently affect our residents.
Social connections, individual preferences and strong resident councils are among the ideas for what makes a strong long-term care facility.