Renee Kinder

Given that this month started with a celebration of our country’s founding, how do you define freedom? 

More importantly, how does freedom connect us in today’s world?

We live in a world of flexibility and professional freedom.

Telecommuting, text-based conversations, and email correspondence in the professional world at best, with true phone contact scheduled in unique cases and only when we “check the Outlook calendar”… I mean, did they really just schedule a last-minute conference call on Friday? 

The freedom to work with others across states and times zones often results in conference calls that can be down-right comical. Airports, dogs and even children pop-up in the background. 

One of my fellow teammates always wants to hear someone sing while everyone is logging in,  and I usually tap into my go-to song: “You’re a Grand Old Flag!”

When I think about freedom, I think about our flag, and when I think about the American flag, I think about a song that my grandfather used to sing. 

Not for any particular reason, and at the drop of a hat, and regardless of who was around, he would go right into song: 

You’re a grand old flag
You’re a high-flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave
You’re the emblem of
The land I love
The home of the free and the brave
Ev’ry heart beats true
Under red, white and blue
Where there’s never a boast or brag
But should old acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eye on the grand old flag

Freedom, or clinical freedom, is also an area that is gaining traction in our industry. I hear so many folks talking about the Patient-Driven Payment Model and the fact that they “hope” PDPM will result in increased clinical freedom for therapists.

Perhaps? But I often feel it just means getting out of typical routines and spreading your freedom in more of a creative sense while also getting back to functional care and therapy roots.

Freedom for our patients does not require us to think “outside of the box.” It requires us to think about the real world and true life-centered approaches for those we serve.

I don’t typically share stories about therapists within my organization. But I must tell you a recent team just blew me away with their use of creative freedom and I want to share this with you today.

We are constantly encouraging our therapist to provide functional-based care. However, we have recently changed the training approach to focus on “Fun in Function.” Monthly trainings have been provided to teams on functional care areas while also encouraging fun and a greater level of engagement.

Examples include a focus on reminiscence, appreciation for life stories, music and memory, and movement and dance. 

Approaches that take on more of a participatory arts approach to care that also have roots in evidenced-based practice for increasing balance, strength, coordination, gross and fine motor skills, breath support for speech and endurance during ADLs, and cognitive function for dual tasking. 

We have also tasked our therapy teams with creating their own “Fun in Function” approach to share with other communities. 

One group combined the reminiscence approach tied to summer with functional-based activities leading up to July 4th festivities. 

The therapy staff at Keystone Pointe in LaGrange, OH, created “Camp Keystone.” Having a facility located in rural Ohio, as well as being close to Lake Erie, they often hear residents reminiscing about weekends spent camping, fishing and hiking. 

Thus, the Camp Keystone idea was born.

Camp Keystone consisted of making S’mores and homemade lemonade, requiring meal prep, standing balance, safety with assistive devices, and even hand-juicing their own lemons. 

Games included cornhole, “homemade fishing game” from a resident’s request for “perch fishing, “ and even crafts for fine motor control and sequencing/direction, following with speech therapy to create a weaving project most commonly known as “God’s eye,” at most summer camps.

The residents really enjoyed participating, and loved reminiscing and telling staff about their memories of Girl/Boy Scout camps, camping with families, and fishing on Lake Erie.

Here’s to celebrating your freedom, the clinical way!

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Vice President of Clinical Services for Encore Rehabilitation and is the Silver Award winner in the 2018 American Society of Business Publishing Editors competition for the Upper Midwest Region in the Service/How To Blogs category. Additionally, she serves as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) gerontology special interest group, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty, and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (HCPAC).