Launching the Companion Pet Therapy Program at the Marion and Bernard L. Samson Nursing Center has landed Menorah Manor in Florida the KISS (Keep it Super Simple) Gold Award in the McKnight’s Tech Awards.

A trustee had decided to donate 10 of the companion animals in 2017, said Judy Ludin, the chief development and community relations officer at Menorah Manor. The animals, which began under a division of Hasbro and have since been moved into a spin-out called Ageless Innovation, were a huge hit, she said.

“I witnessed when we first took them up on the floors how it was astounding residents that had dementia or Alzheimer’s responded, and how pets calmed them,” Ludin said. The facility has since added another 10 animals, and some residents’ families have purchased one on their own for their loved one. The animals are used in the Bresler Alzheimer’s Program, the Irv Weissman Adult Day Center and the Therapeutic Recreation department. In the Alzheimer’s program, one resident was fidgeting and frustrated. Her son mentioned his mother liked cats, and since then, she’s held one of the cats through the day. When it’s brought to her she smiles, and says, “That’s my baby,” Ludin noted.

McKnight's 2018 Excellence in Technology Awards
McKnight’s 2018 Excellence in Technology Awards

“We saw residents who don’t respond to hardly anything respond to these animals,” she said. “It’s remarkable.”

In the High Tech/High Touch category, Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center in Maine won Gold for its use of strobe switches on wheelchairs. First, the team mounted inexpensive strobe lights on the ceiling, then ordered wireless on/off switches that it put on some residents’ wheelchairs. When the strobe goes off, the staff knows one of the residents outdoors wanted to come in. Strobes are at each end of the building by the nurses’ station.

“It’s a matter of making use of new technology to solve an age-old problem, which is: How do you allow a resident to wander the grounds freely and have the means of being connected back to your facility?” said Phil Cyr, the administrator at the Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center. “This is a wireless option and decent range to it. It’s simple to operate. You don’t need a lot of manual dexterity.”

Other winners announced Wednesday:

-Bane Care in Braintree, MA, won Silver in KISS for its use of deploying a Quality Improvement Initiative Provider Plan/Process Improvement Plan Template to identify areas for improvement. Data from the Admission Survey was used to create a FAQ sheet. The provider used Survey Monkey to collect and analyze the completed surveys.

-Nottingham Village in Northumberland, PA, won Bronze in KISS for deploying Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheets. While it had used Excel to track falls, the team advances its skills to use graph options to track trends and to formulate interventions. Detailed graphs track trends in falls by hour, by weekday vs. weekend, and by number of times a resident has fallen.

-Good Shepherd Community in Sauk Rapids, MN, won Silver in High Tech/High Touch for the “anytime dining” program through Aramark. Residents have increased their nutrition intake, such as residents with poor intakes at baseline who are now consuming 75% to 100% of meals. Increased choice and flexibility lave led to greater satisfaction.

-Christian Village Communities in Mason, OH, won Bronze in High Tech/High Touch for using Palarum’s smart socks. The “Patient is Up” sock gives information to physical therapists about weight-bearing ability and balance. Therapists can quantify weight-bearing activity on affected/unaffected lower extremities and use it for treatment.

The McKnight’s Tech Awards winners are being announced every day this week, with Skilled Nursing in the McKnight’s Daily Update and Senior Care in the McKnight’s Senior Living Daily Briefing. Stanley Healthcare is this year’s Platinum Sponsor, with Gold-level support from Netsmart (Skilled) and MatrixCare (Senior Care).

Read about Monday’s and Tuesday’s winners.