Teamwork — Therapy/Nursing Partnership

By Patty Fantauzzo, COTA, CTO, Therapy Program Manager, and Julia Temple Healthcare, Englewood, CO

Wendy Power, DON (L) and Patty Fantauzzo, TPM

I often get asked the same question regarding the success of our LTC programming here at Julia Temple. My answer is always the same: You need to have the support of your DON first and foremost. Imagine going to work every day with great ideas for programming. Your Therapy team endorses your great ideas, but frustration sets in when there isn’t any carryover or follow-through after Therapy steps out. The struggle is real and can lead to burnout, not only for DORs, but for therapists as well.

A huge part of our programming success is the result of our DON, Wendy Power, sharing the same goals and seeking the same outcomes as Therapy for our residents. Of course, it’s a two-way street and both the DOR and DON need to be open to hearing the cold hard facts and collaborating on ideas for solutions, whether it be related to a Nursing or Therapy concern. Mutual respect and trusting one another opens the doors for trial and error without judgement on both sides.

Wendy embraces our ideas, and holds all parties involved accountable, including my own team and vice versa. She truly understands that there isn’t just “one way,” especially with regards to our population of residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s, when addressing needs and care. This allows the Therapy team to be creative with treatment approaches and care planning interventions.

Physicians being able to change a DX from “pain” to a sensory integration deficit with DC of pain medication; CNAs providing care without resident resistance; improved QMs, especially related to skin, falls and weights; staff being able to quickly identify and correct resident equipment mix-ups and cognitive abilities — these are just a few of the many important benefits that are a result of Wendy and I working together to ensure our residents and staff have what they need to provide compassionate, effective and quality care to our residents. In the end, it’s the residents who ultimately benefit, which is also a win for Nursing and Therapy.