Therapy takes new course

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The methods for fielding successful therapy and rehab programs keep growing in number as providers mix approaches

It is common knowledge that some of the biggest business deals get done on the golf course.

Now, some successful therapy dealing will be done on one, too. Sort of.

The Rehab Resort Course is the highlight of a newly renovated therapy department at Capitol Care Center in Boise, ID, and it has seniors and other facilities lining up to get in on the deal.
The "course" is a 1,000-square-foot therapy area with a mocked up putting green and clubhouse, and a golf cart. A colorful mural depicts golfers putting out on an expansive course with sand traps and tall pines in the background.

"There's a lot of excitement in the medical community about it," said Joe Reese, Capitol Care's administrator. "We've seen the discharge-to-home percentage definitely increase."

Hard statistics are not available on the center's effectiveness yet since the department's renovations were unveiled just at the beginning of May. But the positive effects are already clear, Reese emphasized.

Capitol Care's creative investment is a prime example of the innovation and creativity being shown in many long-term care therapy departments today. With a renewed emphasis on fun and hitting a patient's interest zones, therapy providers say they are sending more patients home than ever.

Sometimes, success also may mean simply returning to the basics, providers point out. Whether it's simulating golf, cranking up dance music or solidifying fundamental practices that may have fallen out of view, the tools to reach therapy success are increasingly varied.

More than a game

The Rehab Resort Course is actually just one of three new parts to the therapy department at Capitol Center. In addition to the golf-themed area, there is also a 350-square-foot "rehab condo" and a 500-square-foot "fitness center."

The idea is to really practice experiences in the outside world before actually heading there, said Kip Taylor, RehabWorks' director of facility operations. He also works at Capitol Care Center.

"It's fine for a therapist to say you're ready to go home, but unless a therapy patient practices these things, they don't have the confidence to do them," Taylor said. "They can practice making a meal, or taking a shower in one area.

"Clinically, this sets us apart. There's no other in our immediate market, no extended nursing facility or subacute rehab, that offers our different obstacles and training we provide," he added. "These are things the patient is going to face going home. That has become the key component of our therapy program."

The "condo" is actually a reworked patient room (that still counts as one of Capitol Care's 248 skilled nursing beds if necessary). It includes a fully equipped kitchen, private dining, double bed and a private bath.

The "fitness center" is the buffed up traditional therapy gym. It includes parallel bars, weight training and workout machinery.
But the most unique feature of the department is the remodeled patient/family lounge – the golf area. The spark of conception originally came from a patient who liked golf, though the finished area includes critical therapy elements for more than golf fans.
There are uneven pathways, undulating surfaces and different materials such as three different grasses, sand and curbs to walk on to practice gait and balance. There are stairs and decking to provide workout experiences. And there's the golf cart for practicing car transfers.

"We just tried to put anything in there that would fit in them and yet be practical in going home," said Reese, the administrator. "Putting a theme on it made more marketing sense."

He said much of the idea came from seeing a rehab unit for head-injury patients in a local hospital.

"We thought we could make it fit for a geriatric population if we made some radical variations," he recalled.

About the same time, a patient who loved golf was being taught to mimic golf movem

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