Since 1990, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has celebrated National Nurses Week from May 6th through May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale – the founder of modern nursing. This annual event recognizes and celebrates the hard work and dedication exhibited each and every day by nurses across the country.

Additionally, National Nursing Home Week is celebrated annually, beginning May 14th and ending May 20th. Established by the American Health Care Association in 1967, and always beginning on Mother’s Day, National Nursing Home Week provides an opportunity for residents and their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and surrounding communities to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for seniors. This year, Plymouth Harbor celebrated both annual events during the week of May 15th through May 19th.

Our campus-wide celebration honored our Home Care, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing staff, offering a small event each day, including: “Sundae” Monday, OJ and bagels on Tuesday, Staff Bingo on Wednesday, Taco and Potato Bar on Thursday, and the Blessing of the Hands on Friday.

Held in the Smith Care Center, the Blessing of the Hands offers a simple blessing to our caretakers through a cleansing with myrrh water. Aides, nurses, housekeepers, dining staff, residents, and administration alike are invited to attend, where we acknowledge the role each plays in caring for our residents. The following is said to each participant during the ceremony, “May the work of your hands bring comfort, dignity, and mercy to all the people your hands touch.”

We are truly thankful for the work of our healthcare team and for all those who care for our residents here at Plymouth Harbor.

During the month of June, many will wear purple to shine a light on Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Despite being the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is still largely misunderstood. For that reason, in 2014, the Alzheimer’s Association® declared June Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide, the organization reports there are at least 44 million people who live with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. As we are all too aware, those numbers are only expected to grow.

Often thought of as simple memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting a person’s ability to remember, think, and plan. As it progresses, the brain shrinks due to loss of cells. As a result, individuals lose the ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves.

Scientists continue in their search to find treatments for the disease and others like it — dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and more. In the meantime, learning more about these diseases and how to improve overall brain health is essential.

Did you know?
-In 2016, more than 15 million Americans gave 18 billion hours of their time, unpaid, to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
-Many people take on an extra job or postpone retirement in order to become a caregiver.
-Alzheimer’s disease is not normal aging. It is a progressive brain disease with no known cure.
-Alzheimer’s disease is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms.

What can you do for better brain health?
According to Cleveland Clinic, the following “brain-healthy behaviors” can help:

-Exercise at least three to five times per week.
-Engage in hobbies like puzzles, games, or other mental stimulation.
-Sleep for six hours or more per night.
-Connect with family and friends, and be sure to socialize regularly.

For more information on the above behaviors, visit ClevelandClinic.org. To learn more specifics on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, visit Alz.org.

Sources:
“6 Ways to Maintain Your Brain Health.” Health Essentials. Cleveland Clinic, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 May 2017.
“Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.” Healthy Brains. Cleveland Clinic, 16 June 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.

 
 

A. Rothman Institute, where he serves as President and CEO, and The Rothman Index. 

According to Dr. Finlay, healthcare in the United States is beset by upward spiraling and financially unsustainable costs and quality that is disappointing at best. He says, “These pressures have led to a broad conclusion by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the industry as a whole, that the system must change from the current fee-for-service payment model to a ‘value-based’ reimbursement model.”
 
Early efforts to address this issue have had inconsistent results in terms of both quality and cost measurements. Common to these approaches, and any others likely to be proposed, is that they are patient-centered and thus require a means to accurately measure and follow a patient’s overall condition at any level of care, from the acute care hospital through skilled nursing, home health care, and assisted and independent living organizations.
 
The Rothman Index
The Rothman Index is an acuity metric developed at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The Index uses data empirically, associated with severity of illness, and automatically computed, using data routinely entered in the electronic medical record — including nursing assessments, Braden Scale score, cardiac rhythm, vital signs, blood oxygen level, and lab test results.
 
The Rothman Index has been validated with over 30 peer-reviewed articles and is used in over 60 hospitals nationwide, including Methodist Houston, the Yale New Haven Health System, and the University of Florida Hospitals. Preliminary studies in skilled nursing facilities appear to support its accuracy outside the hospital.

Plymouth Harbor’s Involvement
It has been speculated that a functionally equivalent index of acuity can be constructed for those persons living independently. Therefore, the Florence A. Rothman Institute is exploring a trial study whereby patients conduct their own medical self-assessments by answering a series of questions.

In April 2017, Dr. Finlay formally invited our independent living residents to participate in the study, working collaboratively with The Rothman Index and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The study officially began on May 9, 2017, with 43 Plymouth Harbor participants.
 
About the Study
The study consists of 43 independent living volunteers who will answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to 14 questions about possible symptoms pertaining to their own body systems. Then, the same volunteers will have a Registered Nurse independently perform a “standard” head-to-toe nursing assessment for comparison. This assessment will be repeated on a second occasion separated by more than 24 hours.

This study is funded by the Florence A. Rothman Institute (www.farinstitute.org) under the auspices of the Institutional Review Board of Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System.

We hope to have results to share from this study in the coming weeks.

By: Judy Sarnowski, ADC, CDP, Smith Care Center’s Activity Director

In any Skilled Nursing Facility, this adage unfortunately holds true when attempting to design an activity calendar that fits the leisure patterns of adults who have diverse backgrounds, levels of education, and religious preferences. Throw varying degrees of cognition into the mix and the challenge to provide activities that appeal to the majority of your residents, becomes
even greater.

Experienced activity directors know that the key to developing a successful program is to find a common thread within the patchwork quilt of each person’s interests, the three most common being some form of exercise, music, and reading. Once that is accomplished, the task of providing activities that have a global appeal to your resident population becomes much simpler.

The next step is to simplify each activity into segments that can be altered to match each resident’s specific abilities. Variations of card games like UNO allow residents with varying levels of cognitive ability the opportunity to participate and enjoy a positive experience. Adaptive devices and task segmentation can also be used to facilitate the participation of a large group of residents in a single activity.

For example, the task of building a birdhouse could evolve into a successful activity simply by assigning the more difficult aspects of the project, like measuring and cutting, to residents capable of performing these tasks, and allowing those with cognitive or physical limitations the opportunity to perform simpler tasks like sanding or painting.

In a Life Plan Community, activity offerings should address the individual needs and interests of residents within their specific level of care. At times, this can be difficult to achieve as residents whose needs are ever-increasing are unable to move through the care continuum due to lack of available space. As Plymouth Harbor nears the completion of our Northwest Garden Building —complete with state-of-the-art Memory Care and Assisted Living Residences — we will be able to offer enhanced activities for each individual resident and accommodate the influx of people searching for the ultimate destination in which to live life to the fullest.

 

In the January 2017 issue of Harbor Light, we introduced the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) clinicals program from Suncoast Technical College (STC) that is partnering with our Smith Care Center. Now, we’d like to introduce STC’s Certified Nursing Assistant program, which began working with the SCC at the end of February.

This program, known as the Health Careers Program, is the first step toward a future in nursing for many students. The program works with high school juniors and seniors from schools across the county who are interested in both nursing and overall healthcare.

In their first semester, students learn about the broader spectrum of healthcare; in their second semester, they focus on nursing curriculum. During this time, students perform clinicals for the period of one month at various facilities in the area, including Plymouth Harbor — spending half the day on their school campus and the other half performing clinicals. At the completion of the program, students have the option to take the state CNA Exam. While many choose this option, others decide to further their nursing education and enroll in STC’s LPN program.

According to Clinical Instructor Linda Hart, RN, MSN, STC is the only high school program that offers training in hands-on patient care. Linda joined STC 16 years ago, and throughout the years, she has seen the program grow from three students to over 160. Today, the program has anywhere from nine to 13 students onsite with instructors. In the SCC, students are paired with a CNA, and are able to assist with items such as denture care, hair and nail care, range-of-motion exercises, meal assistance, and more. “It’s a natural fit because many of Plymouth Harbor’s nurses graduated from this program,” Linda says.

Karen Novak, SCC Director of Health Services, adds, “Care is the essence of nursing and the dominant, distinctive, and unifying feature.” She goes on to say that care is taught day-by-day by working with the novice learner. Stepping into a new environment can overwhelm anyone, but the nurses in the SCC help to guide STC’s students through their first experiences in healthcare, giving them permission to ask questions, seek out answers, and learn as much as possible in the process.

“It’s the joy of my life. This program changes our students’ lives,” Linda says. “It gives them confidence and a purpose for learning — what a gift.”

“History has provided us with many examples of nurses’ contributions to mankind. But what sets us apart as a recognized profession?” asks Karen Novak, Director of Health Services. “Tradition! Florence Nightingale was a change agent and seemed to do it without compromise; leadership techniques and advocacy were many of her strong points. It is important to have these traits to
provide nursing students with the tools necessary to promote health.”

The tradition of nursing care is alive and passionate at Plymouth Harbor. Suncoast Technical College’s (STC) Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program partnered with Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center (SCC) years ago, but somehow that tradition fell through the cracks. Dedicated leadership at Plymouth Harbor decided to get things back on track, and the revival of the tradition resumed in November 2016.

STC’s LPN program is a one-year program where students gain both classroom and real-world experience — completing six months in a “freshman” course and their second six months in an advanced course. As a result, half of their time is spent honing skills in the classroom, while the other half is spent completing student clinicals at numerous healthcare sites, including Plymouth Harbor.

According to Clinical Instructor Michelle Boudreaux, there are three clinical instructors. Students rotate between healthcare facilities, allowing them to work in different environments with different instructors. Boudreaux notes that while the maximum number of students allowed by law in a class is 12, STC limits theirs to seven, ultimately providing a much more in-depth, hands-on experience.

By working in environments such as Plymouth Harbor, students are able to learn delegation, management, and can witness first-hand how facilities function as a team. At the end of each clinical rotation, students are asked to provide a “head-to-toe” assessment to their instructor, along with a Medicare note and patient history. Additionally, the students conduct a daily “post-conference” in which they discuss items that came up and how they solved them. Under supervision, students are able to perform general patient care and some skills such as IVs, dressing changes, vital signs, and patient assessments.

To succeed in nursing, a strong and broad foundation must be laid to build upon. SCC’s tenured nurses are all too happy to contribute to building this foundation, seeing these novice nursing students bloom right before their eyes. For some SCC nurses, it is a completion of the circle they started many years ago, as they, too, were in the shoes of the students not so long ago. SCC LPN, and STC graduate, Manny Flores remembers it well, and now facilitates the growth of many students as they learn.

“To touch the life of a student and give them wings to grow is our goal here at Plymouth Harbor,” Karen says. “Who knows, you might find them one day in our healthcare center taking care of you!”

Every year every skilled nursing facility across the country is surveyed by its state licensing agency as directed by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The purpose of this survey is to determine the level of compliance each facility has with the approximately 200 rules and regulations that apply to skilled nursing facilities. These annual surveys are unannounced and usually involve four to six surveyors who spend an entire week reviewing the facility.

Smith Care Center’s (SCC) annual survey began on Monday, November 14, bright and early. The survey team began by touring SCC, including the kitchen, as well as conducting resident visits to
determine their and family members’ level of satisfaction. Questions, comments, and concerns expressed by residents, family, and visitors typically drive the next phase of the survey. In addition, staff are queried on an array of topics; delivery of services and care are observed.

We had an idea that something special was about to happen when the lead surveyor told us that they would be leaving early Wednesday afternoon (instead of Thursday or Friday). At the surveyors’ exit conference with SCC administrative staff we were informed that we had a deficiency-free survey for resident care! For comparison, the State and National average is about seven deficiencies. A deficiency-free survey is very rare.

It is a pleasure to work with such a great team of professionals in SCC. There is a dedication to doing things right and performing at a high level. We are fortunate to have the talent and support of so many staff members throughout every department of Plymouth Harbor. There is a common theme I have found with our staff. We truly care about the people who reside in Plymouth Harbor and we enjoy assisting you to live life to the fullest.

gh6By: Judy Sarnowski

“Smith’s Best” is a recognition that began in 2013 to honor Smith Care Center’s (SCC) staff role models. We consider these honorees to be our “Hall of Fame” — staff who have performed at a very high level over a long period of time. This is not a monthly recognition; in fact, since 2013, only 11 people have received the Smith’s Best honor.

On November 3rd, SCC staff, along with residents and Plymouth Harbor administration, recognized the 10th and 11th Smith’s Best recipients and first resident honorees. It should be no surprise that this tribute went to George and Florence Heitler!

George is Plymouth Harbor’s very own “Music Man.” His love of theater and music prompted him to share his talents and become a volunteer in SCC in the year 2000. After a decade-and-a-half and almost 200 performances leading sing-alongs at monthly birthday parties and holiday programs, George and his contingent of talented vocalists and musicians are now the longest-running entertainment production in Plymouth Harbor history.

George was no stranger to volunteer work prior to his move to Plymouth Harbor. He had served on the boards of the Chicago Public Library, the Henry Booth Settlement House, and the Longboat Key Democratic Club, and donated countless hours working with Meals on Wheels. Even at a young age, he wanted to be a man of the people and follow in the footsteps of his idol Abraham Lincoln. To that end, he received his law degree from Columbia Law School and served as legal counsel for the Army during World War II, and for National Blue Cross and Blue Shield, setting up health benefits for federal employees until he retired in 1981. Florence can also be proud of her volunteer work, which includes serving with the League of Women Voters and the Citizen Information Service, providing voter assistance to Smith Care Center residents, working with Meals on Wheels, and recording books for the blind.

SCC residents and staff consider themselves lucky to reap the benefits of such a multi-talented couple who had the determination and fortitude to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It is with great humbleness and gratitude that we bestow the honor of being the first non-staff members to receive the Smith Care Center’s “Smith’s Best” Award.

 

img_1145-3It is no secret that our workforce is shrinking and our need for workers is growing. To that end, Plymouth Harbor is participating in initiatives in Sarasota to address this shortage and explore how we can help create awareness of career paths in our industry.

Thursday, October 27th, was the third annual State of Jobs conference, hosted at Suncoast Technical College. This conference was put on by the Chamber of Commerce Talent 4 Tomorrow initiative, and invites high school students to attend, explore career tracks, and prepare for college by interacting with and learning from local businesses and schools.  At the same time, the conference gives the business community an opportunity to work with students and hear firsthand about what interests them and what they need to succeed.

This year’s program offered seven career tracks for students to explore — healthcare, information technology, entrepreneurship/business, manufacturing/engineering, hospitality/tourism, marketing/design, and arts/culture.

Nearly 400 high school students from all over Sarasota County attended the event. Plymouth Harbor was a participant this year, and our goal was two-fold:

1.)  Introduce Plymouth Harbor to the emerging workforce

2.) Inspire students to consider service to seniors as a career path

To accomplish this, we hosted a panel discussion in the Healthcare track that we entitled “Third-Age Nursing.” Tena Wilson, Vice President of Support Services, served as our moderator, and we invited Danny Bushman, SCC CNA; Lauren Krause, SCC Restorative Nurse; Bridget Chapman, Home Care Nurse; and Manny Flores, SCC CNA, to be our panelists. The discussion included our panelists’ perspective on why they chose the nursing field, particularly nursing in senior services, why they remain in it, and how they feel that they truly make a difference in the lives of residents.

To learn more about the State of Jobs conference, you can visit www.stateofjobs.org. Additionally, we plan to share details from the data collected at the conference in a later issue.

 

picture2Making the jump from a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a great accomplishment. It takes hard work and dedication, and is truly something to be proud of.

Over the years, several Plymouth Harbor employees, in both our Home Care and Smith Care Center departments, have made this transition while working here. We would like to recognize these individuals below, and have also included a few comments from these dedicated employees.

Smith Care Center

Danny Bushman, LPN 2016

Nancy Chan, LPN 2016

Many Flores, LPN 2004

Tara Mitchell, LPN 2010

Home Care 

Bridget Chapman, LPN 2009

Haley Coles, LPN 2015

“My love for helping people is what made me decide to go into nursing. Working at Plymouth Harbor has overall been a good experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.” —Haley Coles

“I decided to go into nursing because I feel that caring for others is especially rewarding. What I enjoy most about working here at Plymouth Harbor is making my residents smile.” —Danny Bushman