Lymphedema Success Story

Danielle Kistler, OTR/L, is a new CLT at Holladay Healthcare. We are so excited to have a CLT at our facility, and we are already seeing some great successes with her interventions. We have an LTC resident that had LE skin tears that developed into stasis ulcers. The nurses were providing wound care for about six months with the patient being on and off antibiotics due to infections, with the ulcers being unable to heal.

At the same time Danielle became certified in lymphedema management, the patient was referred to a wound clinic for further wound treatment. With Danielle being able to provide appropriate compression wraps at the same time the patient was attending the wound clinic, his stasis ulcers are now healed. The nurse manager received multiple calls from the wound clinic on how well his legs were being wrapped and how impressed they were with the healing of his wounds. This patient also has aphasia and has difficulty communicating with his caregivers. We have seen a change in this patient, with signs of reduced pain, increased participation in ADLs, decreased outbursts, and improved quality of life.

Submitted by Jeremy McCorristin, DOR, Holladay Healthcare, Salt Lake City, UT

LTC Programming: Rise and Dine

Our long-term care population is now fully vaccinated, and it seems as if we are entering, dare I say it, a post-pandemic environment. We made it, but now what?

During the pandemic, we have seen our residents’ version of normalcy altered. Those who used to spend most of their day in the dining room, in activities or the therapy gym, and visiting with their friends and family now are found sleeping in more, not eating as much or as healthy as before, and no longer have the desire to engage in social activities. When they do feel like getting out of their room, seeing them use a wheelchair is more common. Some of them are COVID-recovered and have never fully bounced back after fighting the virus.

Our therapists opened their minds to different therapy approaches and gained the skills that it takes to truly dignify the lives of long-term care residents. We knew these effects of illness and quarantine isolation would take a toll on our vulnerable population, and we did everything we could to combat them in real time with preventative therapeutic approaches. In a pre-COVID world, our building was predominantly a rehab-to-home facility, and it was uncomfortable at times for our therapists to develop long-term care treatment plans. The pandemic highlighted the necessity for our services, and now it is hard to imagine not being this involved with them.

Our Speech Therapists, with multidisciplinary collaboration, hosted a new program this month called “Rise and Dine.” This program began as a nutrition and hydration-based club that requires participants to get out of bed and engage cognitive and communication skills in choosing meal preferences for the event. “We are all very passionate about our residents’ quality of lives and saw this as an opportunity to meet our residents’ nutritional and social needs. The excitement and feedback of our residents really fueled the idea and brought our entire dietary and therapy staff together to make this such a successful event!” — Breean Ludwig, HCRO Speech Therapist

As excitement grew, we realized this program could address almost all the abilities we have seen deteriorate. We ordered T-shirts to encourage dressing and hygiene before the event, and all our therapists came in to facilitate transfers, self-care routines, and mobility to and from the dining room. We also were able to treat goals related to self-feeding, dynamic standing, and sitting tolerance and positioning.

“We saw such a negative impact after so many in-room isolations during the COVID pandemic. Our Residents were discouraged, losing weight, not socializing, showed physical and cognitive changes, and did not want to come out of their rooms. We wanted to do something to bring excitement back into their lives while still being able to target our goals in therapy. This program offers an opportunity for all disciplines (PT/OT/ST) to participate.” — Ke’ren Grimaldo, HCRO Speech Therapist.

Although we are striving to return our residents back to “normal,” I am proud to say our Therapy team has established a new norm as well, and we are not looking back. Just as preventative interventions were important during the pandemic, how we move forward now is just as crucial. 85% of our long-term care residents got out of their rooms to participate in this program. We owe a big thank-you to our dietary manager and her team for being as excited for this program as we were. Our team has a seasonal themed event planned for the rest of the year, and we can hardly wait!
Remember, every county and state Department of Health has specific guidelines for re-opening, so always consult with your DNS with your “back to normal” plan.

Submitted by Elizabeth Munford, PTA/TPM, The Healthcare Resort of Olathe, KS

Motivating Employees—Meet the M.E. Committee at Copperfield

The strength of a team can truly be powerful when everyone sees and feels the vision. Employee culture and retention has been at the top of the initiative list. How can we improve this area and create an environment that truly embodies Customer Second? Well let me introduce you to the M.E. committee. I spent time with one of the M.E. committee members, Loretta Johnson, PTA, to get a better understanding of what this committee has to offer.

As explained by Loretta, the Copperfield Healthcare and Rehab facility created the M.E. Committee (Motivating Employees), with a purpose to engage, support and reward their fellow coworkers. They have designed and cultivated strategies to build interpersonal skills, through exciting team-building exercises. This level of cultural promotion encourages open communication, challenges employees with friendly competition, and assists with facilitating a healthy work-life balance.

The M.E. committee has put together a calendar of events that caters to employee engagement. As Loretta put it, “An employee who enjoys coming to work is a worthy investment, and a good day at work fuels the desire to be better the next day. This feeling of happiness at work will spill over into the love and care that we provide to our patients.”

Most recently, the M.E. committee hosted a Coloring Contest. All employees were asked to color a picture of a butterfly. Each butterfly was judged by the panel of patients, employees and visitors. The grand prize winner received a beautiful, laundry-themed gift basket. Other events included: Chili Cook-Off, World Water Day, and National Laugh Day. The time spent together is intentional, and it has allowed new-hires to comfortably blend in with the team.

The Copperfield Healthcare and Rehabilitation facility leadership team includes:
Noni Gill, ED; Unnati Patel, DON; Shayla Goode, M.Ed CCC-SLP

Submitted by Kai Williams, Therapy Resource, Keystone-East

Outpatient/Inpatient Synergy at McCall Rehab and Care Center

The Rehab team at McCall Rehab and Care Center in McCall, Idaho, has had a vision of providing community-based outpatient therapy in people’s homes since the facility became part of the Pennant-ID/NV market in 2018.

McCall’s DOR, Jenny Sowers, DPT, couldn’t ever seem to find the consistent time to grow an outpatient program, so she decided she should find a therapist willing to take on that challenge. In September of 2020, Jenny hired Ellie Toscan, DPT, with the goal of Ellie building their Community-Based Outpatient program.

Ellie has shown tremendous ownership of the program, from marketing to clinical to financial. She independently tracks the financials weekly and monthly to ensure the program is financially viable. Executive Director Kurt Holm’s main goal for the program is to build relationships and reputation in the community. A recent admission gives clear indication that Kurt’s goal is being realized. Ellie was working with a patient in her home. She had a change of condition, went to the hospital, and was referred to McCall Rehab. Because of the relationship that Ellie built with this patient, she readily agreed to the discharge plan. The patient is now receiving skilled therapy and nursing services in our facility. Thanks Ellie for this great example of the power of our core value of ownership!

If you are looking to grow your community based outpatient program, please consult your therapy resource or Deb Bielek for regulatory help specific to your state.

Submitted by Dominic DeLaquil, Therapy Resource, Idaho/Nevada

St. Joseph Villa OT Discharge Planning Group

Submitted by Stephanie Argyle, COTA and Kyle Fairchild, OTR, ADOR

Whether a patient comes to St. Joseph Villa for a rehab stay due to a fall, a recent injury, a surgical procedure or other medical conditions, we aim to include each individual in our discharge planning group as they approach discharge. Our goal is to educate our patients in ways to improve safety, improve energy conservation and improve self-awareness as they prepare to return home. Each group member is given a packet of written information, which includes a home safety checklist, pictures of adaptive equipment and links for ordering, and home exercises. We change our handouts based on the needs of our patients at the time.

Our DC Planning Group objectives are as follows:

  • To identify barriers to discharge with a focus on current functional barriers
  • Education in home safety, home modifications, DME needed for safety in the home
  • Education in community resources for home safety
  • Education in self-awareness and techniques to facilitate relaxation and awareness of your body at rest
  • Education in the purpose of home health services and benefits of continuing therapy at home and as an outpatient

So many of our patients have expressed gratitude and appreciation as they learn from one of our OTs or COTAs AND from one another about adaptive equipment, techniques and strategies to improve their lives. One patient commented after attending the group, “I was so worried about falling in my bathroom. What you’ve taught me will make things much safer and easier — it will change my life!” We have allowed family members to attend our group, which has helped them learn how to better care for and support their loved ones. Overall, this education group has been a valuable addition and rewarding experience for both our patients and therapists!

Drum Circle Group Activity

Submitted by Loupel Antiquiera, DOR, and Laura Kramer, COTA/L, Pacific Care Center, Hoquiam, WA

Laura Kramer, OT, provided the following exercise to promote OT month.

Residents are provided with a yoga ball placed on a base (like a round laundry basket) and a pair of drumsticks with instructions to follow the leader in a set of coordinated movements with lively music that has a strong musical beat. The variations of instructions may be tailored to the residents’ limitations and therapeutic goals. It can be upgraded or downgraded to tolerance throughout the task, with the therapist monitoring signs of fatigue or pain, cueing residents to rest if needed.

As the therapist, I may begin by explaining the benefits of the activity, which can include increased circulation, cardio exercise, targeted joint range of motion, music appreciation and most of all fun, but I always preface with “If it hurts, don’t do it.” Coordinated movements may include:

  • Elbow flexion only while drumming on the ball; downgrade to just wrist flexion if necessary to tap out the rhythm of the music
  • Knee up both right, then left
  • Reaching far right/far left, targeting shoulder abduction and trunk stability
  • Hands up with crossing drumsticks
  • Drumming to the beat, either slow or medium or double speed
  • One-handed (one-sided)

Overall, the benefits I’ve observed are promising, with most patients demonstrating very good attention and following directions, and some will even become happy to lead a set of instructions and take turns to try out their own combination. Some find the activity too simple and ask to leave, and one resident commented she thought it “felt like kindergarten, but it was still fun I guess.” However, this same resident actively participated again and was observed having fun. One resident required closer observation d/t asthma; her O2 sats dropped too low, and she was returned to her room with nursing notified for breathing tx’s. One pt reported BUE shoulder pain d/t OA.

No Pressure – No Pain – No Problem: A Therapy and RNA Program

By Calli Carlson, OTR/L, DOR, North Mountain Medical & Rehab, Phoenix, AZ

“Oh it’s just basic range of motion. That patient doesn’t require therapy anymore.” I’m embarrassed to think of how often I have said these words, and I wonder how many therapists may relate to this same perception.

Previously in our facility, patients who were non-responsive or minimally responsive were transitioned from our skilled physical and occupational therapy to restorative nursing programs for passive range of motion, typically for three days a week. Over time, we began to notice that patients were demonstrating difficulty maintaining their current range of motion, while restorative nursing was likewise reporting increased tone and increased difficulty working with our more medically complex patients.

For patients with complex brain and spinal cord injuries, hypertonicity can worsen with time causing an invariable decline in range of motion as well as increased difficulty for restorative members performing their range of motion treatments and increased difficulty for certified nursing assistants performing basic tasks such as dressing and peri care. With this in mind, the dialogue began to shift from therapy could be involved in these patient cases to therapy should be involved in these patients cases to provide the best possible outcomes and improve quality of life.

Given the depth of therapists’ schooling on anatomy, neuroanatomy, kinesiology, positioning, and modalities, it seemed that therapists could provide enormous benefit simply by increasing their involvement and time with these clinically complex patients while also educating and instructing restorative nursing assistants, certified nursing assistants, and additional floor staff as needed.

A physical therapist at North Mountain Medical Center, Shannon Dougherty, took initiative and recently developed a program titled, “No pressure, no pain, no problem,” focused on improving the health and quality of life of long-term care residents in the facility. The 3-part program encompasses the following:

Part 1: No Pressure: Reducing likelihood of pressure injuries through bed positioning
Part 2: No Pain: Reducing pain through manual techniques, modalities, contracture management
Part 3: No Problem: Identifying ‘problem’ patients and completing CNA/RNA training for improved techniques, removing burden from RNA for especially complex patients that require additional assist.

The program is currently just beginning here at North Mountain, but we have already been surprised and encouraged by results we have seen thus far. One of our patients, in particular, presents with significant hypertonicity and accompanying flexion of upper and lower extremities at rest, placing this patient at high risk of developing contractures without appropriate intervention. Restorative nursing members have reported that this patient is typically averse to passive range of motion and that they have difficulty knowing how to properly complete this task. A formal therapy evaluation and subsequent treatment sessions identified that this particular patient responds well to simple verbal/tactile cueing, gentle massage of the hypertonic muscles, slow and prolonged stretch, as well as stretching muscles in isolation rather than combing several stretches at once (such as hip/knee extension). Therapists have begun educating restorative nursing members on these techniques as well as analyzing non-verbal pain responses such as diaphoresis, increased flexion posturing, facial grimacing, or increased heart rate in order to provide the best quality, patient-centered care.

The plan of care may differ for individual patients. For example, therapy might decrease restorative nursing visits to two times per week and see that patient once or twice per week to supplement their treatments, or therapy might work with that patient five days per week and discontinue restorative nursing at that time while they work to get a baseline and treatment ideas to share with the rest of the staff. Regardless of the method and scheduling, it is important that therapists see the value of their knowledge and skillset, restorative nursing members feel empowered and capable when working with these patients, and patients receive the best quality of care to improve their health and well-being while under our umbrella of care.

We Got Skills at The Hills–A Nursing and Rehabilitation Partnership and Collaboration

By Angelica Reyes RN, DON and Paul Baloy OTD, OTR/L, DOR, The Hills Post Acute Care, Santa Ana, CA

What is a nursing & rehabilitation partnership? Nursing is defined as a collaborative care of individuals that promotes overall health and prevents illnesses. Rehabilitation is the process of restoring and regaining the lost skills caused by an illness or injury.

Although nursing and therapy are two different disciplines, when both work together harmoniously, they become an effective and powerful tool that is deemed vital to our residents’ health advancement and recovery.

At The Hills, nursing and rehab departments collaborate on a daily basis to be able to provide an individualized resident centered care plan. We have developed an effective fall management system, wherein nursing and rehab teams visit residents at bedside for a more direct and involved plan of care, and diligently analyze and discuss which interventions will benefit the resident the most. Other recommendations are also solicited from the other members of the interdisciplinary team and continuously evaluated for their effectiveness.

In addition, we have recently conducted a successful CNA skills fair with the help and support of our Resource team, that encompasses the “customer second, passion for learning, and celebration” of the CAPLICO values. This event, “We Got Skills at The Hills,” allowed us to revitalize and strengthen the skills set of our front liners and bedside care providers for a safer care experience of our residents. Our very own rehab team demonstrated and shared their expertise in transferring, positioning and lifting our residents using bio-mechanically correct and safe techniques and approaches.

We will always have the opportunity to excel individually. It is when we start believing and behaving differently—collaboratively and seamlessly working together—that the magic starts to happen, exponentially multiplying our successes to meaningfully change the lives of those we care for as we continue our quest in dignifying long term care in the eyes of the world.

A New System for IDDSI

By Sarah Scott, MS CCC SLP, Pointe Meadows, Lehi, UT
On our last call, IDDSI implementation was a shared struggle. With the help of our students and in collaboration with nursing and dietary, we have implemented a new system for IDDSI consistency. On the next call, we can report on any success or challenges with our system.

We have had several inservices with Nursing across the last two weeks. Every nurse will attend training. We completed training with the dietary staff. Each training was an hour long and covered IDDSI, the modified liquids and solids, preparation and testing.

We created a patient identification system for diet modifications. We used the IDDSI colors and round dot stickers for each level in addition to a water droplet sticker for a water protocol. We are placing dots on the doors for easier in-room identification and on a wrist band, which we are placing on the patient’s walker and/or wheelchair for easier identification outside the room and in the dining room.

We created an admission protocol for each nursing station so the admitting nurse can find the diet and place the DOTs with the help of the CNA processing the admission. ST has the same materials so we can change the identification when we change a diet. The key is posted by all of the med carts, nursing stations, gym and dining room.

We also created nice-looking official thickened liquid stations. We have been having difficulty with liquids being the wrong thickness, the spoon being stored in the thickener, and no date on the thickener. Each station is clearly marked and has instructions on laminated cards to support where to get the thickener and how it and the spoons should be stored, specific instructions for our brand of thickener, the quick key to perform a test if needed, and the IDDSI levels.

Our kitchen has ordered single-serving liquids to go out on trays, and each nurse’s station also has a gel pump to support the nurses with ease of thickening amid their many responsibilities.

Strength Training for the Respiratory System: SLP Case Study at Olympia

By Suzanne Estebo Simko, M.S. CCC-SLP, Olympia Transitional Care, Olympia, WA
Kathy came to us in early February 2021 due to progressive weakness. When she first arrived at OTC, although she was alert, she had difficulty having the energy to even keep her eyes open. Kathy stated she was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992, but was able to maintain her productive life. After her diagnosis, she continued to work for an additional 10 years as an executive assistant for the WA Army and National Guard. She stated she and her husband are very social in nature and loved to entertain.

During her initial speech evaluation, Kathy was concerned about her vocal volume being recently diminished. She shared that she used to “sing all the time…in the shower, choir, car, and karaoke nights,” and now, “I squeak out.” It also upset her that her condition was affecting communication with loved ones: “My husband can’t understand me at all when I call him on the phone from here,” she said.

SLP Suzanne Simko recently took a CEU course on strength training for the respiratory system. Her patient Kathy seemed like she could really benefit from the information and techniques learned in this course. Due to Kathy’s breath support weakness, she was not able to complete all the recommended repetitions on The Breather device in her first session. However, both ladies were astounded at the noticeable difference in Kathy’s speech intelligibility at the end of the first session! Her vocal volume was much louder, and she had enough air support to produce sentences versus her baseline one- to two-word responses. The next day when seen for treatment, Kathy’s baseline speech was still more intelligible than previous sessions and almost as important, she was smiling and enthusiastic to go to speech therapy and resume her respiratory system training. Kathy now asks for handouts to help her remember oral/motor and breath support exercises to do when she’s not in ST. She stated she feels “hopeful for the future.”