Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
Despite the diversity of the events I attended during my brief visit to the LeadingAge convention in Boston last week, a theme clearly emerged. The thread that ran through the varied offerings was well-being.
In researcher and consultant Joanne L. Smikle, PhD’s talk on staff retention, rather than focusing on why employees are leaving, she looked instead at why they stay.
Based on her studies of long-term care organizations, she found that “if the leadership of the organization lacks passion, you will have trouble with retention and commitment.”
In healthy organizations, staff members “from the top of the house to the bottom of the house” stay because they can say, “I felt I mattered.” Experiences that contribute to that feeling: Recognizing staff in formal and informal ways, an open dialogue with staff rather than top-down communication, and a focus on the human elements enabling employees to make connections with each other, the residents and the families.
G. Allen Power, MD, FACP titled his presentation, “Enhancing well-being for people living with dementia,” so it wasn’t surprising that this was a central point in his talk.
He asserted that antipsychotics don’t work and don’t treat the true causes of the behaviors associated with dementia. Instead, he recommends focusing on the seven primary domains of well-being, which are part of the Eden Alternative model of care: identity, growth, autonomy, security, connectedness, meaning and joy.
In one instance, a resident who became agitated when he was prevented from leaving the building was allowed outside. The man looked at the cows in a nearby field and returned to spend the rest of the day calmly. The team, who subsequently learned that the resident had been a farmer whose daily routine included an early morning check on his animals, had given him not only autonomy, but had also affirmed his identity and added meaning and joy to his life. His agitation disappeared.
Atul Gawande, MD delivered a Monday morning keynote address. Author of the book “Being Mortal,” Dr. Gawande discussed ways in which to improve end of life treatment. He advocated for care that takes into account the desires of the patient and noted that there is more to living than extending the amount of time we live.