Nancy Fox pointed me to this remarkable success…
“Diane Good, CDM, CFPP, dietary manager at Rowan Community Nursing Home in Denver, Colo., has clocked 25 years in the foodservice industry. Working in restaurant settings, she often put in 80 hours a week. Eventually, the long hours took their toll. So, eight years ago, she took a position in long-term care. Since then, she’s cut her weekly work hours by almost half. Now it’s Good’s heart that is working overtime, caring about her residents’ quality of life. [This is part of the Pinon Management network]
“Do you know what the statistic are? Sixty-six percent of residents in long-term care receive one visitor per year. That is beyond deplorable,” said Good.
Driven by a desire to help change that culture at her facility, Good began volunteering for an organization called Bessie’s Hope about a year ago. She now sits on the board of the 501C3 non-profit corporation begun in 1993 as Rainbow Bridge. Together with Bessie’s Hope co-founder Linda Holloway of Denver, Colo., Good and the rest of the staff at Rowan Community Nursing Home have embarked on a journey of change change within the facility. The result is an environment that is more home than institution. One that is quite different from the environment at the nursing home where Holloway’s beloved grandmother, Bessie, first lived when she developed Alzheimer’s Disease.
“It broke my heart to see her there. It was so lonely and dehumanizing. But I know now it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Holloway.
Using the Eden Alternative as their model, Holloway and her co-founders created Bessie’s Hope in honor of Holloway’s grandmother. Their thrust is to help eliminate the loneliness, helplessness, and boredom from the nursing home experience. An effort is made to bring in plants, animals, and other visages of the world outside. Residents are encourage to help plant flowers and tend to some gardening, if they wish. But one of the most popular programs Bessie’s Hope brings to facilities like Good’s is the Youth & Elders program where area school children partner with residents.
Good says the program has had a profound impact on the mood at Rowan. Each month, residents eagerly look forward to visits from the children at Ellis Elementary School, just down the street. Armed with the skills they received through their Bessie’s Hope training, the children come to do things with the residents,, not for them. Each visit has a reading component, during which the children often ask their elders for help. To say the experience has helped change the culture inside Good’s facility is an understatement.
“These visits really stay with our residents. It gives them purpose and makes them feel they are not alone. Residents tell me that seeing the children makes their whole year. And it works the other way, too. For some children, this is the place where they get someone’s undivided attention. Where they are listened to and accepted unconditionally,” said Good.
For one of the residents at Good’s facility, the experience of visiting with the children was life altering. Suffering from multiple sclerosis, the resident was often angry and demanding of staff.
“Her behaviors could have been attributed to the fact that she had little to occupy her time. As a result, she often took her frustrations out on the staff,” said Good. “But all that changed when the children started coming to visit. She really bonded with them and wanted to do something for them in return for all they were doing for us. She became very pro-active and organized an ice cream fundraiser for the school. One of our vendors donated the ice cream. she was so proud that she raised $700 for the school with that fundraiser. It was amazing how that experience changed her mood.”
In addition to her duties fin the food service department, Good also helps her facility obtain its Eden Alternative Certification and file its Pay for Performance (P4P) reports, so the facility is rewarded financially for is efforts in the field of culture change for its patients. Yes, the additional Medicare, Medicaid funding is important to their cause. But the best reward is one Good sees on a daily basis
“It’s all over the residents’ faces. A look that says, “Somebody remembers me.”