The pandemic narrative, a tool for mental health

In my last two columns, I’ve focused on a “big picture” view of eldercare. This week, I’m highlighting a way in which individuals can mend their mental health after an extremely difficult year, particularly for those of us in the field of long-term care. Chances are that it’s been a tense, stressful, sad time both … Read more

Rethinking quality care: A long-term care psychologist’s perspective

Quality care is often considered from a medical perspective, with the focus on providing the best possible medical services. This is, of course, an essential element of the services provided in long-term care. But at a time when there’s a greater push for community care over nursing and rehabilitation centers, it’s worth rethinking what quality … Read more

A conversation with ‘superhero’ health policy researcher David Grabowski

For a fascinating close-up of the impact of policy decisions on individuals and teams, I step onto the nursing home unit. For a fascinating zoom-out of the impact of policy decisions on the healthcare system in general, I follow the Twitter feed of David Grabowski, Ph.D., professor of health policy research at Harvard Medical School. … Read more

Anticipating anniversary reactions

The coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic one year ago this month. The news is filled with articles reflecting on the dramatic changes in our lives from last year to this — lost jobs, remote school, canceled events, illness. For those in long-term care, this week last year began the pandemic visitor restrictions, and for … Read more

We’re vaccinated. Now what?

Across the country, long-term care facilities are vaccinating their staff and residents, with approximately 3.1 million dosesdelivered as of last week and rates of COVID-19 infection in nursing home residents declining for the past four weeks. This excellent news leads to questions about how the vaccination rollout will impact the daily lives of staff and … Read more

The Equalizer: A holiday story from the ‘Before’ time

Louise, a petite, 79-year-old woman, was the roommate of another resident I was seeing for psychotherapy at the nursing home. Louise sat by the B bed watching TV and working her needlepoint, anchoring the tapestry frame against her chest with one arm while she slowly pushed the needle through with her good hand. “Hello! Please … Read more

Managing a bah humbug holiday season

By now many of us have viewed the viral video of residents gleefully shooting soft foam balls at laughing staff members dressed as reindeer dodging through a pine-tree “forest.” It’s the kind of merriment suitable for the 2020 holidays — one that uses humor and playful defiance to release pent-up frustrations. Under normal circumstances, spending … Read more

From blame to education: Rethinking the nursing home survey process

The treatment team sat around the table calculating the approximate arrival date of the surveyors based on rumors, past years’ experience, and sightings from colleagues at other facilities in the city.  “If they approach you,” the director of nursing advised, “try not to say too much.” The young social worker remarked, “If I see them … Read more

Nursing Home Love Story #6: The Case of the Reluctant Resident

“Hi, Mabel! Do you have some time to talk to me?” Mabel, I knew, had all the time in the world, since she refused to go to activities. She sat across from the nursing station, her hefty frame filling her extra-large wheelchair, watching the nursing staff, the other residents and the passersby. Her greeting hadn’t … Read more