Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
I watched with dismay as the nurse abruptly moved a table in front of a confused and agitated resident trying to leave the dining room. “Sit down!” she told him in a stern voice. “Dinner will be here in an hour!”
Those of us in long-term care have undoubtedly witnessed similar incidents where residents become agitated and staff members don’t have the tools to prevent or manage their distress. Psychologists — who could offer such tools — are largely limited in the current reimbursement model to providing individual services to cognitively intact residents.
Using mental health expertise
The Eldercare Method, developed by psychologist Kelly O’Shea Carney, PhD, CMC, executive director at the Phoebe Center for Excellence in Dementia Care in Pennsylvania, harnesses the training of mental health professionals to successfully address the gap between what’s known in the mental health world about how to handle challenging behaviors and how they’re often managed in long-term care.
The method uses interdisciplinary teams facilitated by mental health professionals (psychologists and licensed clinical social workers) to examine the causes of resident distress and to identify ways to prevent it. Team members include representatives from the nursing department and other direct care staff such as dietary, housekeeping, and aides.
The first step in the Eldercare Method is to assess the overall behavioral health needs of the facility and to establish training programs and annual service goals. This dramatically increases the focus on behavioral health as compared to facilities that provide behavioral health training sporadically, often after an incident occurs, missing the opportunity to prevent problems on an ongoing basis.
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