How fascinating was the solar eclipse this week? 

I am still in awe of the posts, shares and stories I hear about how the skilled nursing facilities embraced the day and found ways to allow those residing in their communities to experience this event.

Regardless of age, physical ability or cognitive status, we all came together to provide a positive united event for our patients. 

Just as the solar eclipse united people from diverse backgrounds in a shared moment of wonder, therapy and nursing services in SNFs cater to individuals with unique needs and experiences. 

Embracing these differences across patients and across interdisciplinary team members allows us to enrich the therapeutic process, fostering inclusivity and promoting personalized care tailored to each resident’s specific goals and preferences.

The eclipse, it seems, also serves for many as a time of reflection, and as I boarded a flight Wednesday, my mind was in a space of considering career lessons learned and those that have provided great impacts along the way.

You see, I wasn’t just boarding a flight to a destination, I was headed to the AAPACN 2024 Conference. 

The American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN®) represents more than 19,000 post-acute care nurses and professionals working in more than 7,000 facilities. Dedicated to supporting PAC nurses and healthcare professionals in providing quality care, AAPACN offers members best-in-class education, certification, resources and strong collaborative communities.

My first AAPACN conference was back in the days of AANAC in San Antonio. I can still recall the energy and walking into packed rooms buzzing with folks sharing ideas, asking questions openly of the speaker, and being comfortable with a friendly debate. 

This was unlike any other conference I had attended before. Nurses are passionate and gladly speak their minds to achieve the best outcomes. 

Likewise, many of our journeys to provide the highest, most practical, and appropriate care for our patients are rooted in lessons learned from nurses and today I will share some of mine with you.

2005 — day one, a small skilled nursing facility in Nicholasville, KY, a floor nurse taught me how to read and navigate the medical record. A few weeks later, this same nurse guided me on the best methods for communication with the wife of a patient who was having difficulty with eating and swallowing (i.e. dysphagia) resulting in recurrent aspiration pneumonia. 

You see, I knew, in a sense, anatomically what was occurring, but she helped me to understand how to break down the concerns into smaller, practical terms for the family to understand. Billie Joe, thank you!

2011 — When I moved into supporting the world of clinical appeals, it was a nurse who taught me to appreciate the world of regulation, and navigation of a benefits policy manual. And to this day I owe my ability to quote Medicare Benefit Policy Manual Chapter 15 Sections 220 and 230 to Liz. This foundational understanding continues to support my ability to navigate regulatory change in the industry while also explaining the “why” to others. For this, I am forever grateful. 

2018 & 2023 — Working alongside two nurses in technical expert panels, I observed how they can command a room, bring us all back to what is important (the patient) and help us to focus on united goals despite our different roles as care providers. Judi and Amy — keep up the good work. 

The lessons are really and truly endless and continue today.

Look big picture.

What does the patient want, not what do you want?

Have you reviewed the chart today? Patients change. 

Understanding these pieces and collaboration between PTs, OTs, SLPs and nurses facilitates a holistic approach to resident assessment and care planning. 

This coordinated approach also fosters a sense of trust and confidence among residents and their families, knowing that their care is being coordinated by a cohesive interdisciplinary team.

Thank you to all the nurses out there, working hard daily, keeping us all focused, and helping us to best serve our patients today and for the days ahead.

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, serves as the Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab. Additionally, she contributes her expertise as a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Healthcare and Economics Committee, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty, and an advisor to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology CPT® Editorial Panel, and a member of the AMA Digital Medicine Payment Advisory Group. For further inquiries, she can be contacted here.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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