Sunday, December 30, 2007

Culture Change: Transformation of Four Nursing Homes (Video: 5:16 mins.)

The following includes an excerpt from my book, "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.” Baby Boomer Haven refers to an imaginary nursing home based on best practices of some, but not nearly enough nursing homes that exist today.

“Welcome to Baby Boomer Haven! It’s a treasure to have you. My name is Ruth, and I’ll be your tour guide today. The first thing you need to know about our nursing home is that it’s real for some, but imaginary for too many others. Everything we enjoy here already exists in nursing homes scattered throughout America, but not in nearly enough. We’re having this tour today, so you can become familiar with possibilities that all nursing home residents should be experiencing, no matter where they are located.

When baby boomers seeking institutional healthcare show up in the millions, nursing homes like ours should be ready to receive them with welcoming lights shining in every window. Now, more than ever, nursing homes should be focused on ongoing state-of-the-art improvements. The comfortable life we live is as close as society’s handshake with commitment to quality healthcare, particularly for the ill and elderly.

We love many things about living here, but what we enjoy most is that we’re treated with dignity as adults. Our feelings and opinions matter. You’ll understand this better during the tour when you see our physical environment, the freedom we have in deciding how we live within our limitations, and the nurturing manner in which all employees interact with us.”

There are several models of culture change for nursing homes. They all respect and incorporate input from residents and staff members in such areas as decision-making and scheduling. This video from the Pioneer Network captures the transformation of four nursing homes in Anywhere, USA.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hospice and Palliative Care Reflections: Quality of Life for Elderly, Ill Dogs (Video 3:49 mins.)

Today’s post may seem different from my usual ones. There’s no link to scientific data or a story about humans receiving hospice or palliative care. The featured topic literally goes to the dogs, rescued dogs that are mostly elderly and ill.

Living at a refuge similar to a nursing home for dogs, they struggled with health challenges ranging from deafness, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, heart murmur, and a lymphatic mass on one “hospice” dog predicted to live only a few more weeks.

Caregiving humans decided it was high time these canine seniors had their chance at smelling the roses we humans have to remind ourselves to smell. A great way to do this was to take all the dogs on a wonderful trip to dog-friendly locations immersed in adventure and nature.

This post shows another application of “quality of life” care for an elderly, ill population that has so often supported others. A soul-stirring video, “Seven Days with Seven Dogs” takes us on a “dog-centered” trip where floral fragrances permeate the air, where wounded spirits soar, and where we are reminded that the best things in life are not things.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hospice Art Therapy (Audio 5:59 mins.)

Julia Balzer Riley is a holistic nurse and artist from Florida who helps hospice patients through art therapy. She visits them wherever they receive hospice care. Starting this art therapy with cancer patients, she introduced them to painting on silk pieces.

Riley's therapy begins with centering exercises to encourage patients to set the intention for a healing image to come. Emphasis is on the art process, not the product. Patients say they don’t feel pain while they are painting.

Riley explains that patients move into a relaxation response, “fall into the process,” and often smile. Because images are in patients’ minds before words, they represent patients’ emotions. Riley believes art therapy promotes expressions of patients’ feelings and improves their well-being.

You can listen to a more detailed description of this form of hospice art therapy at this website.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hospice and Nursing Home Poem: Inside Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease

This post includes the poem “Pieces of Our Minds” from my book "Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes.” Each chapter ends with an original poem.

Do you ever wonder what it might be like inside the minds of patients with dementia? I do. Dementia refers to a group of conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and lead to mental decline. Alzheimer’s (Ahlz-high-merz) disease is the leading cause. Most people who have the disease are over sixty-five, with eighty being the average age of diagnosis. There is no cure for patients with dementia, and they eventually need complete care.

As a hospice volunteer, I have spent many hours, individually and in groups, interacting with patients who have dementia. When I am with them, I consciously try to view the world from their perspectives. This helps me understand them better and interpret needs they can’t always verbalize. That process inspired me to write this poem:

Pieces of Our Minds

On the border, on the brink,
we shiver like quivering tears
swollen to fullness with distress,
reluctant to spill an excess.

Strapped in delusions
wondrous and weird, we ride
roller coasters of reality
through joy and fear.

On the brim, on the rim,
like balls circling in frustration,
we scramble for thoughts
lost in nets of uncertainty.

Invaded by memories,
peeping, creeping, weeping,
we laugh and cry to the
rhythm of nostalgia.

On the fringe, on the edge,
changing, adjusting, impacting,
we crave compassion in our
search for society’s sanctuary.

© Frances Shani Parker

You can hear me reciting this poem on YouTube.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog