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 Stars In Their Own Right

Provider’s editors and 20 To Watch panel are pleased to present 20 shining examples of what it means to be an exceptional long term care and post-acute professional.

 

 
They listen, they lead, they love their work, and they want to make a difference in the lives of elders in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and elsewhere across the country. They are Provider’s 20 To Watch in 2013. In this inaugural feature are profiled some of the most compassionate and committed folks in long term and post-acute care.
 
From an impressive group of nearly 50 nominations, Provider editors, along with a panel of judges, have chosen the individuals who deserve recognition—to be watched, if you will—due to their leadership capabilities and their commitment to improving the quality of care in the field.
 
To paraphrase one honoree, improving quality of care in this field will come about through the telling of stories about the incredible caregivers, amazing residents, and astounding things that happen when resident-centered care becomes the norm.
 
The 20 To Watch in 2013 is a collection of such stories—of incredible humans doing incredible things to advance the cause of serving elders and making a positive impact on long term and post-acute care in this country (see the entire list here).
 
From nurses, physical therapists, and administrators, to social media gurus and music therapists, the debut of 20 To Watch pays tribute to some devoted and inspiring professionals who will surely leave their mark on the profession.
 
On the following pages is the inaugural 20 To Watch list, along with profiles of six of the honorees. The remaining folks will be profiled in the upcoming February and March issues, and our website, providermagazine.com, will highlight additional information about some of the honorees’ accomplishments.
 
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Christine ReynoldsChristine Reynolds, PT
Facility Rehab Coordinator
Tendercare
Tawas City, Mich.
 
“Christine has never been one to just do the job, she has to always bring something to it,” says Christine Reynolds’ colleague Jane Barbour, Tendercare’s clinical reimbursement coordinator.
 
“Each day, Christine exemplifies compassion, intelligence, dedication, and leadership, promoting the growth of her team and the success and motivation of the residents receiving her services.”
 
Reynolds’ laser-like focus on her patients has won praise from co-workers and residents alike (she knows every resident’s name, Barbour says).
 
“I think that I always try to keep a vision of focusing on patients and doing what’s best for them and hoping to make their lives better,” says Reynolds.
 
“She spends countless hours teaching direct care staff, families, and residents to produce the most effective outcome,” says Barbour. “She takes ownership of the residents and their needs and collaborates with all the disciplines to help ensure quality care.”
 

Going Home Well is The Goal

Recently, Reynolds was awarded the ProStep 2012 Facility Rehab Coordinator of the Year designation from Extendicare, Tendercare’s parent company, and she was instrumental in creating and piloting the center’s Transition Week program, says Barbour.

“The program, which is designed to facilitate the best possible transitions, from facility to home, for our rehab residents began in Tawas with Christine and has now been embraced nationally by Extendicare and is highly regarded by the residents who have completed the program.”

Watching people progress and helping them return home is what motivates Reynolds, who has been with Tendercare for five years—this time. Her first stint at the center was 16 years ago as a staff physical therapist. She left the facility to work in the school system for nine years so that she could be closer to her children. Once they were grown, she returned to the work she loves.

Reynolds, who says she is “terribly humbled” by her selection, is quick to point out that what she does is a calling for her.

“I have always loved spending time with my grandparents and my great aunts and uncles,” she says. “I loved to spend time in the geriatric population, so when I went to school I kept that as my focus.”

“I’m really honored [to be selected], but I believe that the people who have touched my life, along with the way they have allowed me to do what I have done, that’s how I got here,” she says.

Reynolds notes that without such excellent support from her rehab and administrative team, as well as the “entire staff and my husband,” she could not have been selected. “It’s everyone who has contributed that’s allowed me to be successful and to be who I am.”

Barbour, who has known Reynolds since she first worked at the facility more than two decades ago, notes that Reynolds is always striving to be the best. “She is not just going to rehab someone, she’s going to rehab them the best,” she says. “And she’s never going to settle for anything. She always takes something to the next step.”

Among Reynolds’ standout leadership qualities, says Barbour, are that “she is patient, she listens, and she doesn’t just come to us with a problem—she comes with a way to fix it.”
 
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Angela RossAngela Ross, RN
Vice President, Clinical Services Integration
Prestige Care
Vancouver, Wash.
 
Like many nursing school graduates, Angela Ross began her career not thinking that she would one day work in long term care. Today, however, she cannot imagine being anywhere else. Ross says that working in a nursing home was the furthest thing from her mind when she worked as a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital more than two decades ago.

“I would have told you I would not be in long term care as I was going into nursing school,” she says.

Now, however, she believes long term care is the place for her. It started some 21 years ago, when the hospital where she was working closed. She applied for a job at a local skilled nursing facility in Oregon, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Her new job suited her well—within nine months she was promoted to director of nursing, followed by a senior clinician role, and then a regional role.

Eventually, she was recruited by Prestige, where she proceeded to take her facility through five consecutive deficiency-free surveys and had extremely low turnover in the nursing department, says Marcia LaMure, director of post-acute care management for Prestige.

“As the director of rehab at the time, I watched as an occasional nurse who was commuting to work in our small town would resign in order to avoid the commute, only to return and ask for the job back because ‘Angela was so much better than any other nursing director,’” LaMure says.

“Those returning nurses commented on Angela’s good organization and time management, how all systems were in place and working well and the relief of always having the correct supplies, feeling proud about the excellent quality of care, and especially about Angela’s teaching and training skills,” says LaMure.
 

Improving Care Techniques

Ross brought a level of knowledge and enthusiasm to Prestige that has helped the company grow and excel in clinical and operations initiatives, LaMure adds. “From introducing basic Medicare levers years ago when she was first employed, to creating a sophisticated post-acute care department most recently, Angela has continually brought new ideas and systems to Prestige.”

LaMure notes that Ross has been ahead of the game when it comes to health care reform.

“She has helped position our company in an enviable spot by bringing information, education, processes, systems, and unique programming to address the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. She has been extremely successful in creating partnerships with referring hospitals and was instrumental in achieving preferred partner status for Prestige with Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital,” LaMure says.
 
“No matter what position she holds, however, Angela is never far from interacting directly with staff members in the facilities.”

Ross continues to single-handedly do training out in the field for each and every Prestige center, and at least 50 percent of her time is spent with residents and staff in the facilities, LaMure says.

“No matter what changes come to our industry, we know that Angela Ross will be ready and able to lead us through them.”

Ross says she loves her work. “I love the challenge. I think it’s incredible. I’m always busy,” she says.
 
“I like the evolving nature of it all. I like to come up with really great strategies. So I don’t think I’ll ever leave long term care.”
 
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Whitney Ostercamp
Whitney Ostercamp
Music Therapist
Valley Nursing Center
Taylorsville, N.C. 
 
“Energetic” is one of the many adjectives Sandra Loftin, administrator at Valley Nursing Center, describes Whitney Ostercamp. Inspirational and resourceful are two more descriptive words Loftin uses as she lauds Osteramp’s work.

“She has been inspirational in developing a wide range of music programs at Valley Nursing Center since she has been here,” Loftin says.

In addition to an intensive program for Valley’s ventilator residents, Ostercamp has also reinvigorated the very popular Tone Chime Choir, which performs for other residents, families, and guests at least three times a year, Loftin says.

The program expanded so quickly in the past 12 months under her direction that Valley is now seeking a second full-time music therapist.

“Whitney has also become a resource for new music therapists trying to enter the field in long term care,” Loftin says. “Her love is the geriatric population.”

Not Just A Pretty Melody

Ostercamp, who started at Valley in August 2011 fresh out of graduate school, has always felt that she could use her musical abilities to help others. “We all know that music has an effect on the human body, and I was interested in understanding the science behind how and why,” she says.

Part of Ostercamp’s work has entailed educating the staff about the difference between music as entertainment and music therapy. “They get it,” she says. “And they’re music therapy advocates now!”
 
Ostercamp explains that music therapy is an intervention that can be listed as part of a care plan. “For example, if short- or long-term memory deficits of Alzheimer’s disease is listed as a problem in a patient’s care plan, one of the interventions to help target that goal is music therapy,” she says.

Ostercamp will also write a music therapy treatment plan with specific music therapy goals and objectives to reflect work toward a problem that is identified on the care plan.

“Once these goals are established, I choose the best music therapy interventions and implement these nterventions within the sessions. The session notes are then documented in the medical record,” she says.

One thing she appreciates about the job is the ability to easily collaborate with other medical professionals at the facility. “That’s something you can’t do as much in other settings, or if you’re practicing on your own,” says Ostercamp.

What has she learned from her work thus far?

“No day is a typical day,” she says. “I’ve learned to be flexible, and I’ve learned how much I enjoy seeing effects of music therapy on residents and how it’s positively affected the whole facility.”
 
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Joyce Simard
Joyce Simard
Namaste Care Founder
Geriatric Consultant, Author
Land O’Lakes, Fla.
 
Joyce Simard doesn’t talk much about herself. In fact, she spent most of her interview with Provider talking about the Namaste Care program she developed about 10 years ago for people with advanced dementia.

Not surprisingly, Simard is modest about what appears to be her steadfast pursuit of advocating for elders with dementia. She describes her work as “simply putting structure to something that caregivers already know is the right thing to do.”

Namaste, which is Hindu for “honoring the spirit within,” is about creating a peaceful space for residents with advanced dementia to go to at any time.

A Namaste Care program takes place in a designated space, within a nursing home or assisted living community, where the environment is safe and comforting for all who enter, including residents, their families, and staff.

Ideally a seven-days-per-week program, Namaste can include hand and foot massages, brushing or combing a person’s hair with slow movements, and facials. In nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the program can be presented to residents either in its own dedicated space, or in a converted space (such as a dining room, for example), where scent of lavender is present, lights are low, and music is soft—much like a spa.

“I truly believe that people with dementia can have quality in their lives until their last breath,” says Simard. “But quality of life is more than keeping somebody dressed and fed and changed”—which is why Simard created Namaste.

Simard now spends time traveling, speaking, and training folks about Namaste throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom, Greece, and Australia.

Among the benefits of the program are reduced agitation, decreased and sometimes complete elimination of the use of antipsychotic medications, and reduced falls.
 

Spreading The Word

The program has become popular not just in nursing homes but in assisted living and hospice. In addition to her travels, Simard is working on a second edition of her book, “The End-of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia,” which was first published four years ago.

“Joyce is totally focused on Namaste, which is a great quality about her,” says Pauline Coram, director of executive learning in the assisted living division of HCR ManorCare. Coram has worked with Simard since last February on the rollout of Namaste in the company’s dementia care communities, Arden Courts.
 
“What sets her apart—and in thinking about it, it has become a refrain in my head—is that she is single-minded in her pursuit,” says Coram. “It comes out of her pores. And she is really almost flawless in her approach to training and educating folks about the program. She beats the drum consistently and constantly.

“She’s like an Energizer bunny; she gets energized by talking about it and being around people. And she doesn’t do it for herself—she does it because people need it, and it’s worth it,” Coram says.
 
Coram’s company has been so impressed by Simard’s work that all 54 Arden Court communities are in the process of implementing Namaste Care programs.

Indeed, it is obvious that Simard is energized by talking about the program. “It’s so incredible,” she says. “It’s definitely not about me; it’s about the people in our industry. They are caring people. Namaste gives structure to what people want to do all the time.”

At the end of her interview, Simard asked, “The article is going to be about the wonderful people we work with, and it’s definitely going to be more about people knowing what to do with people with advanced dementia than about me, right? Because that’s what it’s all about.”

Yes, that’s what it’s all about.
 
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Kavan Peterson
Kavan Peterson
Partner, ChangingMedia
Editor, ChangingAging.org
Baltimore
 
It’s all about the stories for Kavan Peterson, and he is a storyteller. Technically, he is a journalist, but he prefers to use the term “storyteller,” especially since his mission is to help pro-aging organizations such as the Green House Project and Eden Alternative, as well as not-for-profit provider organizations, tell their “incredible stories of culture change.”
 
Why? “Because I think these stories have the potential to change aging,” he says proudly.

Peterson, who founded ChangingMedia, a communications consulting firm and is editor of ChangingAging.org, a blog stream founded by Bill Thomas, MD, also describes himself as a mixed media consultant who “was trained as a writer, photographer, and videographer.”

These titles, however, seem to inadequately describe Peterson’s interesting career path and impressive accomplishments in the field of aging services. Peterson, who is all of 35 years old, began his career as a reporter on Capitol Hill, but five years later was searching for something else and found work as communications director for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Erickson School, which is aimed at preparing a “community of leaders who will use their education to improve society by enhancing the lives of older adults.” Thus Peterson’s “pro-aging” career began.

“I found a good fit at the Erickson School,” says Peterson. He was successful in launching the school’s new program, which garnered worldwide attention, and he was able to work with culture change organizations tied to Thomas, founder of the Eden Alternative.

Coinciding with his work at UMBC, Peterson helped Thomas launch his first blog, ChangingAging.org, “the purpose of which was to harness the power of social media in blogging to bring in the pro-aging message of culture change to people,” he says.

Casting A Broad Net

After two years, Peterson struck out on his own to do social media consulting so that he could help “spread the word about what culture change means.”

Through ChangingMedia, Peterson aims to “make it easy” for nonprofit organizations dedicated to culture change and pro-aging to enter the world of social media and blogging. “I help them set up blogs and integrate them into their websites and into their marketing strategies and plans,” he says.

Chris Perna, chief executive officer of the Eden Alternative, has worked closely with Peterson for the past several years. He praises Peterson’s establishment of the ChangingAging blog stream as “a sounding board for some of the real thought leaders in the aging world,” he says. “The blog has created a worldwide reach for the message we’re trying to get out there, and Kavan has really been the architect of that whole effort. He created a platform for folks interested in aging.”

Perna notes that Peterson’s “significant expertise in the world of social media” has helped the Eden Alternative make much more effective use of social media.

What’s more, Perna says, he brings a unique skill set to the picture. “He’s been so helpful in getting us over our trepidation about social media, and we’re trying to take his message out to the nursing homes we work with, because they have some incredible stories to share and they don’t have the platform to do that,” he says.

“I think that sharing more positive stories about what goes on in nursing homes every day will help remake the image of the industry, and there are incredible stories to be told. Social media is an incredible platform for getting that message out there.”

Peterson says that through his work he has realized that within nonprofits in long term care, in particular, there is a “great need” for updating their websites and embracing social media technologies. “We’re doing everything to meet those needs and finding low-cost solutions for them,” he says.

Although ChangingMedia serves a broad range of nonprofit interests, Peterson says his focus is “completely on long term care and completely on aging-related issues, primarily because the need is so great for improving communication and technology and for spreading culture change.”

If it’s not yet obvious, Peterson is passionate about long term care and culture change. “You are not going to find any more compelling stories in any other field of work than what’s going on in culture change in this country and around the world,” he says.
 
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Jana MalloryJana Mallory
Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse
Certified Wound Specialist
Lebanon Care Center
Lebanon, N.H.
 
There are many stories of caring, compassionate, committed folks who have fallen into the long term care field, only to fall in love with it, and Jana Mallory is no exception. But she is exceptionally grateful for the serendipitous event that took her to Lebanon Care Center.

“My husband came to his area, and I needed to find a job,” says Mallory. “This opportunity came up, and I absolutely love it. I think it’s the best job in the world.”

Mallory says there is “no question” that she will be in long term care for the remainder of her career.
 
“It’s very satisfying work—sometimes it’s hard—you lose people, you lose residents, and that’s the nature of what we do—but you also have such an opportunity to impact their lives dramatically.

“It’s not like anything else,” she says.

But loving the job is not what got Mallory nominated for 20 To Watch—it’s her talent, hard work, and dedication that won the hearts of co-workers at Lebanon Care Center.

For example, colleague Heather Impey, unit manager at Lebanon, cited Mallory’s “knowledge and compassion that goes above and beyond” in a letter supporting her nomination.

“Jana provides exceptional education to all our patients and families throughout their stay at our facility and often takes time out of her day to provide one-on-one education to nursing staff or facilitates group in-services to further our nursing capabilities or knowledge,” Impey writes. “Jana has the ability, through her compassion and love of her career, to motivate others and continues to set high expectations for exceptional care across the board. She is a wonderful role model for all of our nursing staff here at Genesis and continues to provide exceptional care on a daily basis.”

Likewise, Kelly Leavitt, a therapy nurse, says Mallory is “a true asset to our team and to our patients. … Her combination of clinical knowledge and true compassion for all of the patients is evident each day,” she writes.

Medication Passes Simplified

In addition to assisting in the successful implementation of the Early Watch Tool, which has decreased Lebanon’s rehospitalization rate, Mallory was also instrumental in reducing medication passes to twice daily in the facility’s long term care wing, says Martha Chesley, administrator. “This has improved the quality of life for our residents and enabled our nurses to spend the extra quality time with our residents, which has improved resident-to-staff relationships,” says Chesley.

Also among her accomplishments, says Chesley, is the elimination of fall alarms with all residents. “In the fall of 2010, we went totally alarm free,” Chesley says. “It has made such a difference in our environment for our dementia/memory-impaired residents and has improved their quality of life as well.”

Mallory is a bit more modest about her feats. She credits her colleagues with creating an environment that lets her thrive. “Truly, I cannot imagine being more fortunate,” she says. “Truly, every single person here will help anybody even if it’s not their patient. That makes my job fabulous. That’s the best part of my job here.”

Mallory believes that hers is the perfect job for nurse practitioners. “Because of the amount of problem solving you have to do, it is not like anything I’ve done before. In long term care, it’s complicated—there are family issues, social issues, dementia issues. It’s very different, it’s challenging, and it really helps you grow,” she says.

Among her strongest leadership qualities is listening to what other people have to say. “Because everyone, literally, from housekeeping to the supply person here, has something to say that gives you insight into your patients and what they’re doing,” she says. “So by listening you’re really able to provide a holistic approach” to caring for residents.
 
Sponsored by Silverchair Learning Systems
Silverchair Learning Systems works with senior care leaders who want to improve key business processes in their organizations. Silverchair Learning offers: Silverchair For Staff, a user-friendly online training solution that improves compliance and eliminates record-keeping headaches; the Employee Feedback System, which easily delivers satisfaction surveys, provides in-depth analysis of results, and offers action tools to help reduce employee turnover; and Silverchair For Families, a resident family education and communication system that helps set expectations and solicit continuous feedback to help providers build strong family relationships and increase satisfaction. All Silverchair Learning products have been developed to help educate, empower, and inspire the senior care industry and to facilitate a higher quality of care. Silverchair Learning Systems is a Relias Learning company. Visit www.silverchairlearning.com to learn more.

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