By Kari Rhodes, MS, CCC-SLP, Therapy Resource/DOR, Legend Oaks Health & Rehabilitation, Fort Worth, TX

We have a new and more comprehensive understanding of how we can truly “dignify long-term care” by taking care of the residents that live in our facility. We decided to question some old patterns and beliefs that were preventing us from truly delivering the best possible therapy services to our long-term residents — our extended family.

The change did not happen overnight, but with education and support of our resources, our therapists began to truly understand the extraordinary differences they could make in the lives of residents by addressing many basic needs. We started looking at quality of life rather than waiting for a fall or a decline. We began education on programs including Percutaneous Tibial Neuromodulation (PTNM) for urinary incontinence and Abilities Care for dementia, and although we were improving quality of life, we were still missing something. We were discharging our residents to restorative, but they were still showing declines after therapy ended. How could we make a more permanent impact on their lives?

One of the things I love most about Ensign is the way we work together to make each other better. While attending a Keystone therapy resource meeting, I began hearing more and more about skilled maintenance programming. A light bulb went off in my head. This is what we had been missing! I invited Tiffany Bishop from Keystone North to provide an in-service to my market. She came to Fort Worth and provided the education we needed to implement skilled maintenance programming in Fort Worth. As a team, we were energized! We saw a wonderful way to continue providing quality of life services and keeping our ladies and gentlemen from declining. It was a win-win situation! We added staff to meet these needs. Residents were happier because they were not declining! As therapists, we were relieved to be able to continue providing services to those who needed it the most!

To me, this is one of the ways in which it is easy to see that when you provide as much loving care as you possibly can to these ladies and gentlemen who deserve the best possible quality of life, in ways that may involve thinking outside of the box, the rewards are extraordinary! Our fresh ideas and programming has truly been a game changer for our residents. They are thriving now more than ever!