Reflections on the value of psychology services

When psychologists provide direct care services to long-term care residents, a note is required for every session, documenting symptoms, therapeutic interventions and other information proving that each and every session is medically necessary. The goals and progress of treatment are reviewed every three months. Audits and case reviews by insurers are not uncommon. Other disciplines in the organization read the notes and can incorporate the work into their efforts or, occasionally, question why the resident is being seen.

Sometimes, particularly when I haven’t had a vacation for a while, I wonder if I’m being truly helpful. I don’t want to discontinue treatment too soon because often mine is the only consistent, deep contact a resident has in life, but the steady drumbeat of needing to prove it’s worth it can lead to doubts at times.

Luckily, my residents have a way of letting me know that my services make a difference to them.

I was considering discontinuing treatment with a somewhat confused woman. When I woke her from a nap the other day, she smiled broadly, pointed to my business card which she keeps by her nightstand and almost leaped out of bed to talk to me. She spent the session following up on topics we’d been addressing in previous sessions and proudly showing me her progress on activities in which I’d encouraged her to engage.

I’ll keep going with her a while longer.

Another resident approached me in the hall recently, saying he’d been waiting for me and telling me, “You give me a reason to live.”

I’d consider that medically necessary, wouldn’t you?

My Better Nursing Home

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