Trauma is not an uncommon experience: 60% of men and 50% of women will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime, and nearly 8% of the population will at some point meet diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the National Center for PTSD.

With Phase III of the Final Rule going into effect Nov. 28, many skilled nursing and long-term care facilities are asking the question, “What is trauma, and how do we recognize when a resident meets the diagnostic criteria for PTSD?”

Trauma is defined as an individual’s exposure to a distressing event. It often prompts an individual to believe that their life, or the life of another, is in danger. This individual may directly experience the event, witness the event or learn of the event through outside exposure. It is important for facilities to be vigilant and understand that trauma interrupts the very basic human need within their residents to feel safe. It can affect them at any time of their life. 

A good partner will help ensure facilities are well-equipped for the rule’s implementation by making them better able to recognize and properly assess residents affected by trauma, thereby establishing a safe environment that resists re-traumatization.

MediTelecare is partnering with facilities around trauma-informed care so that they can be prepared to:

  • Integrate concepts of trauma and trauma-informed care into their Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement plan.
  • Train and educate staff on trauma-informed care with our support.
  • Assess staff competencies for providing care to residents with a trauma history and/or diagnosis of PTSD and know when and how to refer residents to a team of credentialed clinicians. 
  • Train all staff, contractors and volunteers on behavioral health (one of eight training areas required by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) through trainings and information we provide regularly.

Please note that trauma-informed care is not a single intervention or a formulaic equation. It needs to be a way of thinking about residents and truly understanding where they have come from. In fact, successful providers are establishing environments that foster emotional safety for their residents.

Trauma interrupts a basic need for safety and its effects can be felt across the lifespan. In order to reach their fullest potential, to grow and develop into the person that they wish to be, a person must first and foremost feel safe. What better gift can we give our aging residents than an opportunity to experience this sense of comfort in the “home” where they will likely spend their final days?”

Sherie L. Friedrich, PsyD, is chief psychology officer at MediTelecare, which has prepared a toolkit and other programs to help providers begin to implement trauma-informed care at their facilities