rehab imageEvery day, in every part of America, there are individuals facing similar challenges transferring from medically supervised rehabilitation care in a skilled nursing facility back to their “normal” routine at home.

Doctors suggest walking, swimming, low-impact exercise, and even returning to the gym, to regain strength and balance. However, doctors are not trained in exercise physiology and cannot offer the practical advice needed for each individual’s recovery. For this reason, they prefer to send their patients to a supervised rehab facility. Too often, if there is no means of structured support to continue their recovery through exercise once rehab is over, people settle back into a more sedentary lifestyle, resulting in a less than optimal recovery.

Sarah Ross, Physical Therapist, PT, DPT, GCS, CEEAA, a certified expert on exercise for aging adults, works with many of our patients in the Smith Care Center (SCC) during supervised rehabilitation. Sarah says the ideal outcome is for every individual to safely mainstream into an exercise program suited to their body and condition. “Ongoing exercise provides the maintenance program for a happier, more active lifestyle which everyone deserves,” she adds.

“At Plymouth Harbor, our goal is to provide a continuum of care and communication to help residents safely transfer from supervised rehabilitation to ongoing use of the exercise equipment in our Wellness Center,” says Chris Valuck, M.S., ASCM-CES, CWWS Certified, Director of Wellness.

The Wellness Program at Plymouth Harbor, led by Chris Valuck, communicates routinely with SCC Rehab Services, led by Clinical Manager Gina Kanyha.  When a resident in rehab expresses an interest in actively pursuing their recovery by using the facilities in the Wellness Center, a connection is made with Chris Valuck to confer on individual rehab needs and requirements.

While the Wellness Center staff do not provide one-on-one physical training, they are on hand to monitor and attend to resident needs in the strength-training area.  They have found the communication with SCC Rehab Services goes both ways. “It is not uncommon for a resident to share their concern about an observed pain or decreased mobility,” shares Chris. “I can then refer them to Sarah or the other physical therapists in the Smith Care Center where they can receive out-patient rehab services.”

“I like to bring patients over to the Wellness Center before we release them so that I can encourage their use of the Wellness Center and provide an initial orientation to the equipment best suited to their rehab and medical issues,” says Sarah.

One resident shared, “In rehab, I liked the security of knowing that someone (a physical therapist) was there to push me to do things that I didn’t realize I was even capable of doing.  Things (exercises) I would not have dreamed of trying.”  She went on to say that she was encouraged and challenged throughout the process and considered it a great opportunity to learn and continue her exercise program in the Wellness Center once her physical therapy ended.  Her ‘transition’ experience from Rehab Services to the Wellness Center?  “It all just fits together!” she exclaimed.

That’s what it is all about: one smooth transition of care with the goal of optimal health for all residents.

Teepa Snow TeachingIt starts with the touch of your hand.  One of the hallmarks of the Positive Approach to Care™ taught by Teepa Snow, one of America’s leading educators on dementia, is the Hand-Under-Hand™ technique of connecting physically with an individual living with dementia. With thumbs interlocked, established nerve pathways in the hand are engaged, and by holding hands in this manner while helping to dress or feed, or guide the individual, the caregiver allows him or her to still feel in control and subtly connect eye-hand skills.

As yet another step is taken down the path of developing world-class memory care services at Plymouth Harbor, Brandi Burgess, the Smith Care Center’s social services coordinator, has undergone extensive training in the Positive Approach to Care™ (PAC) toward certification as a PAC trainer.  The rigorous process included hours of online classes, training videos, periodic testing to pass on to upper level learning modules.

At one critical point in her training during an 8-hour intensive on site at the Pines of Sarasota, Teepa Snow herself was coaching Brandi on how to hold a resident’s hand using the Hand-Under-Hand technique to help them stand up.

“It was inspiring,” Brandi said about learning from this pioneering advocate for those living with dementia. Teepa has made it her personal mission to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with the challenges and changes that accompany various forms of dementia so that life can be lived fully and well.

Her philosophy is reflective of her education, work experience, available medical research, and first hand caregiving interactions. Working as a Registered Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, Teepa’s wealth of experience has led her to develop  Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) techniques and training models that now are used by families and professionals working or living with dementia throughout the world.

Challenged to describe the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) in one sentence, Brandi gamely responded, “The core philosophy of PAC is to recognize and celebrate the strengths that remain at each stage of dementia and learn how we can continue to connect with the individual in a meaningful way.”

Of course, there are many layers of understanding in the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) and Brandi was challenged in many other ways as she worked to earn her certification. Guided by a PAC mentor, she proved her proficiency with various techniques by videotaping herself working directly with residents. At the end of the full day intensive she had to develop and present an in-service training. On another occasion, she videotaped a training session she conducted for colleagues in the Smith Care Center in order to satisfy the program requirements.

On December 4, Teepa Snow’s team at Positive Approach officially notified Brandi that she has passed all program requirements and was now a certified PAC™ trainer.

Now it’s time for the real work to begin!  Brandi is now responsible for the ambitious goal of providing Positive Approach training for all staff at Plymouth Harbor.  All clinical staff, between 60 and 70 individuals, will receive two full, 8 hour days of training which will start in March 2015.  Limiting the classes to 24 students, Brandi will be conducting three separate waves of the two-class series. That’s six full days of teaching!

Next, Brandi will train all staff that have direct contact with residents in the Smith Care Center and the Callahan Center. Direct contact staff will receive one full day of Positive Approach Care™ training.

Finally, all other employees, from dining staff to security and all levels of management, will benefit from a two-hour introduction and basic skills training in Positive Approach Care™.

It sounds exhaustive, but we are developing a culture of world-class care for our residents of all cognitive abilities. Teepa Snow will be visiting Plymouth Harbor on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Residents are invited to an afternoon session with Teepa from 1:00 — 2:30 pm in Pilgrim Hall. The program is titled, It’s All in the Approach: Learning to Care, Live, and Laugh During the Stages of Dementia.  

Registration is required. Please call (941) 361-7252 to register. If you care to bring your loved one, please register them, as we will also host a separate supervised interactive Drum Circle for persons with dementia during the presentation, followed by refreshments.



Wellness Florida Retirement Community

Staff work with residents Jeanne Manser and Geri Johnson to assess gait and balance functionality.

The Health Services Team hosted an open house recently at Plymouth Harbor to highlight the wide breadth of Therapy Services available to residents and community members in this continuing care retirement community.

The Open House provided residents with a glimpse of both the therapy and nursing services offered to them. Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies showcased a diverse and energetic approach to rehabilitation and the spectrum they have to offer the residents. Nursing services from the skilled nursing center, assisted living, and home care  provided blood pressure screenings and insight to the total package of caring individuals within their building. The focus of this Open House was to address the “One Stop Shopping” for meeting their healthcare needs at Plymouth Harbor.

“We decided to do this in a fun, expo-like format, so that our residents would have a good time while getting to know the breadth of services that are available to them here,” says Joe Devore, Vice President of Health Services.  “Some of our residents are not aware that full therapy services are right here at Plymouth Harbor for their convenience.”

The entire room was buzzing during the afternoon as residents visited station after station to assess their own functional levels in balance, cognitive memory recall, endurance, and even blood pressure.  Residents could also sign up to volunteer in the Smith Care Center if they have interest.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered.  Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered. Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Staff in occupational, speech, and physical therapy led the balance, endurance, and memory cognition assessments.  Greg Carvajal, who works with our therapists and led part of the assessments, added, “We are looking for fall risks and functional deficits during these assessments. If we detect any here, we can recommend that they follow up with the staff at a later date, and hopefully avoid serious injury.”

Gina Kanyha, Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Smith Care Center, hopes to introduce the residents to the therapy staff.  “Our goal was to bring the faces of the team to all residents and let them know who we are and that we are there for them.  This also gives us an opportunity to showcase the services we can offer.”

Also available during the open house was staff from the Smith Care Center, Home Health Services, and Assisted Living.  “We are here to provide services for our residents and building that relationship early, even before they ever need our health services makes it so much more comfortable for all of us when and if the need arises,” said Stacy Baker, Director of Nursing Home Health.

Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Plymouth Harbor holds an annual Skills Fair that allows staff to demonstrate competence with nursing skills that are used daily to provide the most optimal care for the residents in the Smith Care Center, Home Health, and Callahan Center.

During the Skills Fair, specific stations are designed to address various topics such as order entry, dietary intake, skin care, transfer techniques, medication administration, lifts, bed alarms, Care Choices, and documentation.  Each staff member is required to complete fourteen stations and assure competence.

“This is an excellent way to keep everyone’s skills sharp and up-to-date on best practices and new equipment,” says Karen Novak, Director of Health Services.  “We have 100% completion with all passing the competency testing at the end.  We are very proud of our staff!”

The Skills Fair is offered annually to all health services staff members.  By the end of the second week, 150 health services employees will have rotated through the Fair.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.


Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).






Congratulations to Sheila Strahorn, our Employee of the Month for July 2013. Sheila Strahorn July 2013 Employee of the Month

Sheila is a full time certified nursing assistant (CNA) in the Smith Care Center.  She came to Plymouth Harbor in December 2011.

Sheila received Exceeds Standard remarks in Quality of Work, Efficiency, Attitude, Relationship with People, and Attendance.  Her supervisors describe her as, “Very kind and friendly, helpful and considerate with the residents and staff.  She is supportive of the vision of Plymouth Harbor.”  “Sheila has demonstrated a very high standard of performance.”

Sheila’s nominators said of her:

Sheila is always pleasant with staff and residents.  She never gets upset and always helps others with a great attitude!  She is a good team player.  When asked to do something she never hesitates, she is always there to help any resident even when the resident is not in her section.  Sheila is very pleasant, friendly, and hard working.  She has a wonderful attitude and we know the residents are getting the best care when she is here.

Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Sheila graduated from Harlem High School and earned an Associate in Arts Degree from Rock Valley College.  Before moving to Florida she worked as a CNA at Riverbluff Nursing and at Super Nurse, LLC for 8-½ years.

Sheila and her husband Lorron and have two children: Alec (14) and Anna (16).

Please join us in congratulating Sheila for an exemplary job!


Debbie Chitwood, Sheila Cantrell, Josh Karn are among those honored during National Nursing Home Week

At Plymouth Harbor’s Smith Care Center, the compassion, dedication, and expertise of the health care staff are the qualities most often cherished by residents who receive care.  We like to think our gratitude is expressed every day, but for one week every May the entire country celebrates National Nurses Week and timed to coincide with the May 12th birthday of the most famous nurse of all, Florence Nightingale.

The staff of the Smith Care Center planned an entire week of fun activities to honor the nursing staff by combining National Nurses Week with National Nursing Home Week from May 12 through 18. The week started with Monday morning continental breakfast and Tuesday Nurses Cap Day. Nurses donned their traditional white caps and enjoyed an ice cream social, resident/staff relay race, and a Blessing of the Hands.

Liz Clark and Bridgett Chapman guess the number of lifesavers in the jar.

Wednesday launched with a morning of bingo with prizes and pizza for everyone in the living room. The feast continued on Thursday when the certified nursing assistants (CNAs) were given special honors with an afternoon of Decadent Desserts.

By Friday, it was time for some outdoor fun. Staff from across the campus, and some residents, too, gathered for an afternoon light picnic and a bean-bag toss tournament out on the bayside lawn under a beautiful flowering jacaranda tree.  It was a gorgeous warm, sunny day and nearly everyone took their turn trying to toss their bean bags right into the target. It was good old-fashioned fun.

It was a light-hearted way to say “Thank you” to all the nursing staff for their day-in day-out jobs well done.  Until next year!

A day of decadent desserts! Margaret McFarlane, Pat Ringstaff, Nancy Cressotti, Dorothy Barichak, Andy Davis, Carol Dodson (l-r)

Harry Hobson, Erwin Edelman, and Joe Devore at the picnic.

A big hug for Karen Novak and Carol Dotson, who donned their nurses caps.

Please join us in congratulating Nancy Baldwin, our Plymouth Harbor Employee of the Month for June 2013.

Nancy Baldwin is June's Employee of the Month!Nancy has been with Plymouth Harbor since December, 1987, when she was hired as a resident sitter. In April of 1990 she was promoted to a Certified Nursing Assistant in the Smith Care Center, where she consistently received “exceeds standard” remarks on her appraisals in several areas including Job Knowledge, Quality of Work, Efficiency, Attitude, Relationships with People, and Personal Conduct.

Her supervisors and nominators commented:

  • Nancy knows her job well.  She arrives to work ready to work and works well with coworkers.  Nancy goes the extra mile to assist others.
  •  Nancy is a pleasure to work with.  She takes excellent care of her residents and is helpful to others when needed.  I am glad to have her as a member of the night shift.  She is an asset to Plymouth Harbor.
  • Nancy takes a lot of pride in her work.  Her residents are always well taken care of.  She has a positive attitude and works well with others.
  • Originally from Cairo, Georgia, Nancy attended Washington Consolidated School.  She moved to Sarasota in the late 50’s where she graduated from Booker High School.

Congratulations, Nancy, on this recent honor, that comes from your loyalty and hard work.