Clinicians Who Inspire – Blake Allen, PTA – February 2024

When Blake Allen, PTA from St. Simeon’s in OK, experienced a neurological event that resulted in loss of function on her right side, her entire world changed in a moment. Through this life-changing experience and her journey through rehabilitation, she attained an unanticipated capacity to serve others through example and inspiration.

In conversation, Blake shared how her empathy equips her to relate to her patients’ fear, frustration, or weariness when a medical event like a fall or onset of a new condition alter how they function in daily life. She uses her personal experience as a relatable example of the power of therapy, and how dedication to treatment sessions “really works”, even if it is a slow race to the new normal.

Through Blake’s story, clinicians are inspired to embrace the power of empathy with each patient we encounter. Though we may not have the same experience as Blake or our patients, we are equipped with the ability to imagine what our patients may be thinking or feeling. We have the opportunity for conversations to seek understanding and guidance in developing patient-centered goals and encouragement. Each interaction impacts those in our care. As Blake puts it, “we are the friendly face that the patient gets to see every day.”

Thank you, Blake, for sharing your incredible resiliency, recovery, and the important reminder that our care matters. You serve as an inspiration to us all!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Catherine Shafer – January 2024

This month’s Clinician Who Inspires is Catherine Shafer, Champion Level I Therapist, COTA and Therapy Coordinator at Thunder Care and Rehab.

Catherine shares her primary motivation as a therapist is the joy her patients bring her. She recalled a recent day where she walked into her patient’s room to find him excitedly awaiting her arrival for their therapy session, stating that he was ready to get better. Beyond the enthusiasm and progress of her patients, Catherine also recalled the many stories, learning experiences, and wisdom that her patients have bestowed upon her during her time as a therapist. Catherine smiled as she stated, “sometimes I wonder whose therapy session it really was.”

When she’s not learning from the nuggets of wisdom she receives from her patients, she’s engaging with her peers, searching Reliant University, and logging into the Lunch and Learn trainings to grow clinically and foster her purpose. She encourages all therapists to do the same to refresh knowledge and remind us why we do what we do every day.

Catherine looks forward to the spring season with opportunities for fun gardening activities with her patients, continued relationship building with her interdisciplinary team, and more invaluable nuggets of elderly wisdom. Catherine, thank you for sharing your passion in what you do. Your dedication to Care Matters inspires us all!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Alex Johnson – December 2023

In this month’s Clinicians Who Inspire series, we interviewed Alex Johnson, PTA, Director of Rehabilitation, and Champion Level I Therapist at Jolley Acres Healthcare. Alex believes in keeping the interdisciplinary team and patients excited in order to achieve the best outcomes. He and the team at Jolley Acres often use PC gaming platforms to help keep patients engaged while working on difficult tasks. With the gaming platform, Alex explained that it provides challenging and dynamic activities such as weight shifting, single limb support, bending, and rotating. A favorite, Elf on the Slope, allows patients to work on dynamic sitting or standing balance while navigating “Buddy the Elf” through ski slopes on an action-packed adventure. Alex emphasized the importance of the intensity of each treatment session, explaining that it’s the therapist’s role to ensure the patient is getting “the most value” from each treatment session. 

Alex spoke of using the abundance of resources provided by Reliant. He encouraged other therapists to use programs such as Reliant’s Clinical Advancement Ladder to grow their expertise as a therapist in the field. Alex also promoted the use of group therapy sessions ranging from full body workouts to address global strengthening needs to carnival games in which the patients encourage each other to complete activities such as ball toss and bowling. Thank you, Alex, for being a Clinician Who Inspires!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Jennifer Saldaña – November 2023

This month’s Clinician Who Inspires is Jennifer Saldaña, Therapy Coordinator, and rising Champion Level I SLP. Jennifer believes providing personalized care and being a constant learner helps her to thrive as a clinician.

When providing treatment, Jennifer focuses on what motivates the patient. She gave an example of a patient who was an avid gardener. Jennifer made sure to keep a plant in her office so the patient could speak to the plants as they targeted speech and language goals together.

She has also provided training and encouraged housekeeping staff to browse through residents’ memory books with them and to engage in conversations with the patient while they are tidying their rooms. Along with improving socialization opportunities and carryover, she finds that staff enjoy these interactions and appreciate learning effective, individualized methods to communicate with residents.

For residents who enjoy group therapy, Jennifer works with other disciplines to collaborate and provide multifaceted activities. Recently, she worked with OT. They utilized balance balls for an exciting cardio-drumming exercise where she implemented verbal recall tasks and music-based conversation starters. Her favorite holiday season group activity is sending out cards to loved ones. Residents have even opted to send cards to staff members who have retired and are no longer working at the facility. This exchange has proven heart-warming to both the senders and recipients.

Jennifer values learning and recommends Aging Process: What is Happening to the Body and What Does it Mean?located in Reliant University. She appreciated the comprehensive examination of the normal aging process and has applied this knowledge to improve patient health literacy with healthy aging education. She also encourages clinicians to discuss different perspectives and to always continue to learn from each other.

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your personal contributions and innovative ideas and also for your dedication to providing patient-specific, meaningful care.

Clinicians Who Inspire – Nicole Burrough – October 2023

This month’s Clinician Who Inspires is Nicole Burrough, Champion Level II Therapist, DOR and COTA at Yazoo City Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center. In conversation, Nicole shared her biggest takeaway in her time as a therapist and DOR is that teamwork is the key to success. She discussed her belief that effective communication, a “willingness to help attitude”, and being receptive to others’ input contributes to positive relationships with the other professionals on her team. This, ultimately, fosters a great team that is able to produce great outcomes.

With this communication and receptivity, Nicole’s team frequently implements group therapy sessions that incorporate training of multiple skills at one time. They are currently planning a pumpkin painting group that will address balance, gross and fine motor coordination, and sequencing all at once! Nicole shared that these groups are important in providing encouragement and motivation to the residents at their facility.

Finally, Nicole discussed the importance of educating other healthcare professionals on the benefit of therapists in SNFs. This education not only demonstrates the value of each therapy discipline, but also provides increased opportunities to ensure each resident meets their maximal level of functional independence.

Nicole, thank you for sharing your team player attitude! Your dedication to Care Matters inspires us all!

MDS Changes Countdown – Day 1

COUNTDOWN DAY 1: Interdisciplinary Collaboration

When it comes to MDS assessments, teamwork makes the dream work. The MDS is a critical component of comprehensive resident care in long-term care facilities. Completing these assessments effectively requires an interdisciplinary team (IDT) approach. Interdisciplinary collaboration in MDS streamlines the assessment process and has the power to elevate the quality of care delivered to residents.

IDT meetings are the cornerstone of effective interdisciplinary collaboration, and the frequency of these meetings should be carefully considered. Regular meetings provide a platform for team members to share insights, discuss resident cases, and align on care plans.

Effective communication is at the heart of interdisciplinary collaboration. To create meaningful plans of care, it is crucial to communicate with various IDT members. This includes residents themselves, other disciplines who have recently interacted with the resident, direct staff from all shifts, and the resident’s physician. Each of these sources can provide valuable insights into the resident’s condition, preferences, and progress. By involving multiple disciplines, care plans can be tailored to align with the resident’s unique preferences and goals. This ensures that residents not only receive medically necessary care, but also maintain their dignity and quality of life.

Achieving success in MDS assessments is a collective effort. By fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, long-term care facilities can navigate the evolving landscape of MDS assessments while continuing to deliver high-quality, resident-centered care. Collaboration truly is the key to unlocking success in resident assessments and care planning. 

Reliant’s Interdisciplinary Team Meeting Clinical Resource



MDS Changes Countdown – Day 2

COUNTDOWN DAY 2: Quality Measure Impact

Minimum data set (MDS) assessments provide the data foundation for many quality measures. The transition from MDS 3.0 version 1.17.2 to version 1.18.11 brings significant impacts to several quality measure specifications; one of the biggest changes being the shift from Section G: Functional Status to Section GG: Functional Abilities and Goals, as well as the inability to generate a RUG-IV grouper directly impacting staffing measures.

To account for these changes, CMS released Minimum Data Set (MDS) 3.0 Quality Measures (QM) User’s Manual V16.0 and Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating System: Technical Users’ Guide last week.

Quality Measure Updates:
New Measures

  • SNF Discharge Function Score measure (CMS ID: S042.01) will replace Percent of Residents Who Made Improvements in Function (Short Stay) (CMS ID: N037.03)
  • Percent of Residents With Pressure Ulcers (Long Stay) (CMS ID: N045.01) will replace Percent of High-Risk Residents With Pressure Ulcers (LS) (CMS ID: N015.03)
  • Percent of Residents With New or Worsened Bowel or Bladder Incontinence (LS) (CMS ID: N046.01) will replace Percent of Low-Risk Residents Who Lose Control of Their Bowel or Bladder (Long Stay) (CMS ID: N025.02)

Re-specified Measures to utilize Section GG items due to the removal of Section G

  • Percent of Residents Whose Need for Help with Activities of Daily Living Has Increased (Long Stay) (CMS ID: N028.03)
  • Percent of Residents Whose Ability to Walk Independently Worsened (LS) (CMS ID: N035.04)

Starting in April 2024, CMS will freeze (hold constant) impacted quality measures on Nursing Home Care Compare.

Public reporting for these measures is scheduled to resume in January 2025 or as soon as technically feasible.

Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating Staffing Updates

  • In July 2024, CMS will post nursing home staffing measures based on the new staffing case-mix adjustment methodology derived from PDPM as outlined in the appendix: Updated Case-Mix Adjustment Methodology for Staffing Level Measures
  • CMS will revise the staffing rating thresholds to maintain the same overall distribution of points for affected staffing measures.
  • Beginning in April 2024, CMS will freeze (i.e., hold constant) the staffing measures for three months while they transition to a SNF payment PDPM replacing the RUG-IV methodology.


Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Interdisciplinary Communication


MDS Changes Countdown – Day 3

COUNTDOWN DAY 3: Impact to State Case Mix

Federal regulations mandate that all nursing facilities, regardless of the Medicaid system in their state, must conduct patient specific MDS assessments, known as OBRA assessments, at specific intervals for each resident, regardless of their payer. Many states utilize these federally mandated MDS assessments to inform and calculate the case mix index (CMI). For decades, case mix states have adopted models for the MDS assessment that are similar to the Prospective Payment System (PPS) of their time, such as RUGs III or IV. However, beginning 10/1/2023, federal support for the calculation of RUG scores will end. States who continue to apply RUG methodology will have to implement the Optional State Assessment (OSA) which can no longer be combined with any other assessment. The MDS v. 1.18.11 will only support PDPM determinations. In an effort to prepare for this change, states that implement a Case Mix system, may be transitioning or have already transitioned to PDPM.

While case-mix methodologies vary from state-to-state, there are universal strategies to enhance CMI, regardless of individual state practices:

  • Timing is everything: Ensure each member of the interdisciplinary team (IDT) has the most up to date calendar of quarterly and annual Assessment Reference Dates (ARDs).
  • Verify your state plan as of 10/1/2023 for Case Mix determination and whether the OSA will be required.
  • Ensure the IDT is trained to conduct interviews timely and accurately so that all relevant information is recorded (See Section GG Assessment Quick Card).
  • Plan, implement, communicate, and assess processes for effectiveness regularly.

In the event your state is continuing to require the use of the OSA, the OSA Manual provides these instructions/coding tips:

  • Not federally mandated, but may be mandated by state
  • Contact state for clarification
  • Must be a stand-alone assessment

Effective case mix management through thorough and complete MDS assessments are critical. Now more than ever, it is essential for each member of the IDT to be educated about the changes, enabling them to contribute their expertise accordingly. Navigating case mix management through evolving payment structures is challenging, but with effective systems in place, success can be both achievable and sustainable.


Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Quality Measure Updates


MDS Changes Countdown – Day 4

Care Area Triggers and Care Area Assessments

The Care Area Assessment (CAA) process is designed to assist assessors in systematically interpreting the information recorded on the MDS. This process enables clinicians to focus on key issues identified during assessments so decisions as to whether and how to intervene can be explored with the resident.

The MDS information, coupled with the CAA process, forms the foundation upon which care plans are developed. Within this framework, there are 20 problem-oriented CAAs, each incorporating MDS-based “trigger” conditions that signal the need for additional assessment and review of the triggered care area.

Previously, Section G items were used to trigger Care Areas in the MDS; however, with the retirement of Section G, CMS has updated Appendix C (CAA Resources), placing a much larger emphasis on Section GG for the CAA process. In fact, 17 of the 20 Care Areas now utilize Section GG as triggers or indicators for the Care Area.

Therefore, accurate Section GG assessment is imperative to ensure precise mapping within the Care Area Assessment process. It serves as a crucial link between the MDS and the development of each resident’s care plan. Strong interdisciplinary collaboration should extend throughout the MDS assessment process and continue during the CAA process. By understanding the components and the importance of accurate assessment, healthcare professionals can ensure thorough resident-centered care plans are developed that promote each resident’s optimal outcomes.

Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Impact to State Case Mix


MDS Changes Countdown – Day 5

COUNTDOWN DAY 5: Section D – Mood

Beginning October 1st, the depression screening tool in the Minimum Data Set (MDS) will transition to the PHQ-2 to 9©. The PHQ-2 to 9© introduces a skip pattern logic to guide the completion of the depression screener.

The resident mood interview begins with two gateway questions that address the cardinal symptoms of depression: a persistent depressed mood and an inability to experience pleasure. By honing in on these symptoms, this tool can quickly identify those who may be at risk for depression. Based on the responses to the first two questions, the interview will either end or continue through the remaining seven questions. The embedded skip pattern is designed to reduce the length of the interview assessment for residents who fail to report the cardinal symptoms of depression. Although the interview coding may conclude with the first two questions, asking the remaining questions provides insight to the resident’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas can provide insight and impact care planning.

Beyond the initial screening, the information gathered from the PHQ-2 to 9© interview plays a crucial role in guiding supportive treatment planning and resource utilization, including:

  • Nursing component classification in the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM).
  • Addressing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual factors contributing to the resident’s ability to participate in meaningful activities.
  • Implementing leisure or identified interests within therapy sessions.
  • Facilitating participation in activities of interest outside of therapy.
  • Improving the resident’s health literacy to promote overall wellness.
  • Initiating referrals for additional evaluation of possible depression or other mood disorders.

Early identification of residents at risk for depression will allow for healthcare providers to intervene more effectively and efficiently. This proactive approach can lead to timely interventions and better outcomes for patients struggling with depression.


Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Care Area Triggers & Care Area Assessments


MDC Changes Countdown – Day 7

COUNTDOWN DAY 7: Additions, Modifications, and Clarifications

The upcoming revisions to the minimum data set (MDS) scheduled for October 1st bring significant changes. These revisions encompass 29 new and modified data elements, updates to 13 care area triggers, and modifications to 17 care area assessment worksheets. Notably, this update introduces gender neutral language and fully integrates the IMPACT Act of 2014 Standardized Patient Assessment Data Elements (SPADEs).

Below are just a few of the additions, modifications, and clarifications to review:

  • Medication List to Subsequent Provider/Resident (A2121-A2124) – New Data Elements
  • Pain Interference with Therapy Activities (J0520) – New Data Element
  • Nutritional Approaches (K0520) – Modification
  • Skin Conditions (M0300A-G) – Modification
  • High-Risk Drug Classes: Use and Indication (N0415) – Modification
  • Special Treatments, Procedures, and Programs (O0100) – Modification

The latest clarification is in relation to quality measures. CMS has released the Minimum Data Set (MDS) 3.0 Quality Measures (QM) User’s Manual V16.0 stating that one of the biggest changes involves the transition from Section G: Functional Status to Section GG: Functional Abilities and Goals.

These changes have broad implications for long-term care facilities. Proper training of staff is essential for a smooth implementation process. Staying updated is crucial for maintaining high-quality patient care and compliance with regulatory standards. Download the MDS 3.0 v1.18.11 RAI manual to guide successful implementation of all the new additions, modifications, and clarifications.

Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Section GG – Functional Abilities.


MDS Changes Countdown – Day 8

COUNTDOWN DAY 8: Social Determinants of Health

When it comes to assessing and improving healthcare outcomes, it is not just about medical conditions and treatment. Understanding the social determinants of health (SDOH), that encompass various factors affecting people’s lives and impacting their well-being is crucial. These include socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, and social support networks. The SDOH play a significant role in shaping an individual’s overall health as well as access to healthcare. 

To address the impact of the SDOH, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has identified seven critical data elements for cross-setting standardization in assessment: 

  1. Race
  2. Ethnicity
  3. Preferred language
  4. Interpreter services 
  5. Health literacy
  6. Transportation
  7. Social isolation

Collecting data on these social determinants of health is about more than just checking boxes. It is an opportunity to gain insight into residents’ lives, beliefs, and values. The responses obtained during resident interviews paint a more comprehensive picture of potential barriers each resident may face upon discharge. By acknowledging and addressing these barriers, healthcare providers can better set residents up for success and in turn, reduce hospital readmissions and foster sustainable outcomes. 

Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Additions, Modifications, and Clarifications.



MDS Changes Countdown – Day 9

COUNTDOWN DAY 9: Resident Interviews

In long-term care, the voice of the resident is invaluable. As the Minimum Data Set (MDS) evolves, it places increasing emphasis on resident input, particularly through interview-based questions. In the MDS 3.0 v.1.18.11, there are a total of twenty-one resident interview questionnaires (e.g., mood, preferences, pain). 

To provide the best possible care, accurate information is paramount. While medical assessments and charts are essential, self-report from the resident remains the single most reliable indicator of their well-being. Residents possess a wealth of knowledge about their own lives, preferences, and needs. Interviewing residents provides an opportunity to tap into this knowledge. By doing so, we gain insight into what they consider to be the most important facets of their lives. This knowledge forms the foundation for person-centered care and prioritizes individual preferences and choices. 

To ensure open communication in a supportive care environment, consider the following tips for a successful resident interview.

  • Introduce yourself to the resident.
  • Be sure the resident can hear what you are saying.
  • Ask whether the resident would like an interpreter.
  • Find a quiet, private area where you are not likely to be interrupted or overheard.
  • Ask the questions as they appear in the questionnaire.
  • Repeat the response options as needed.
  • Use cue cards as appropriate.
  • Move on to another question if the resident is unable to answer.
  • Break up the interview if the resident becomes tired.
  • Record the resident’s response, not what you believe they should have said.
  • If the resident becomes deeply sorrowful or agitated, sympathetically respond to their feelings.

In the ever-evolving landscape of long-term care, the resident interview has gained increasing importance. By placing residents at the center of decision-making and fostering a supportive care environment, we can truly honor their preferences and choices.

Be on the lookout for tomorrow’s blog: Social Determinants of Health. 

In case you missed yesterday’s blog, click to review: Know Your Resources.

MDS Changes Countdown – Day 10

October 1 is 10 business days away, and with that date brings the long-awaited revisions to the minimum data set (MDS). Understanding these changes and their broad implications is crucial. Equally important is the efficient training of your staff for seamless implementation. Over the next 2 weeks, Reliant Rehabilitation will be sharing daily blog posts covering essential MDS updates, points to consider, and educational opportunities for staff including:
10. Know Your Resources
9. Resident Interviews
8. Social Determinants of Health
7. Additions, Modifications, and Clarifications
6. Section GG – Functional Abilities
5. Section D – Mood
4. Care Area Triggers & Care Area Assessments
3. Impact to State Case Mix
2. Quality Measure Impact
1. Interdisciplinary Collaboration

COUNTDOWN DAY 10: Know Your Resources
Foundational to any new learning is affirming that information is from a primary source of reference. For the MDS and RAI revisions, the primary source is CMS.
Each blog is developed by Reliant Rehabilitation’s team of RAC-Certified clinicians and contains easy to digest summaries of the MDS Updates.
Provided here is a compilation of CMS Websites, Training, and Manuals to download and bookmark as we embark on this blog series.

MDS 3.0 RAI Manual v1.18.11

MDS Item Sets v.1.18.11v5

CMS SNF 2023 Guidance Training Program

Monitor your email for updated information from Reliant including Real Time Memos, Reliant Reveal, and webinar trainings. To register for Reliant’s webinar on Effective Case Mix Management this Thursday, click HERE.

Clinicians Who Inspire – Shelby Drolshagen – September 2023

Shelby Drolshagen, PTA/DOR at Logan County Senior Living makes putting the “FUN” in function a priority. She believes that if therapy is enjoyable, patients don’t notice how hard they are working. She is constantly thinking of ways to bring creative, exciting treatment approaches to her therapy sessions both individually and in group settings. Some of her favorite activities include wheelchair races, obstacle courses, corn hole, and activities related to Reliant’s A Year of Wellness topics. Shelby recently led a group session where patients made signage/labels for the facility; patient feedback was how much they enjoyed this purposeful activity and are eager to do a similar group activity again.


Shelby has obtained Champion Level I on Reliant’s Clinical Advancement Ladder and is working towards completing the educational courses required to achieve a Champion Level II designation in Dementia Care. Recently, she completed the course “Understanding Dementia in the Geriatric Population” where she learned about the importance of considering food options and addressing poor intake as residents with dementia may experience a change in taste as well as food preferences.


As DOR, Shelby strives to inspire her team to be their best and loves to bounce ideas off each of her peers to innovate new treatment ideas and activities. Another part of her role is to be a sounding board and create solutions when needed. Shelby believes that communication is key in team interactions and brings a non-biased opinion to help mediate concerns. Her favorite role is working with the residents at Logan County Senior Living and watching them thrive.


Shelby, thank you for demonstrating how much Care Matters and for being a clinician who inspires daily. Your unwavering dedication to your team and your patients inspires us all.

Clinicians Who Inspire – John Smith – August 2023

This month, our Clinician Who Inspires is John Smith, Champion Level I Therapist, DOR and SLP at Diversicare of Tupelo. John enjoys cultivating a supportive atmosphere for the therapy team to excel in enhancing patient outcomes and attaining a rewarding professional journey. One of the biggest tips John shared is the importance of therapists finding their niche. He believes therapists excel in their careers and make a big impact on improving patients’ lives and functional outcomes when following their clinical interests and striving to enhance their knowledge and skills. John reports he isn’t the only one encouraging his team to embrace lifelong learning. Each member of the Tupelo team encourages and pushes each other to achieve their personal goals as well as goals for the whole team. As an example, John and the Tupelo team have begun climbing Reliant’s Clinical Advancement Ladder – a majority already achieving Champion Level I Therapist.

John also shared that attending July’s Lunch and Learn, Interdisciplinary Fall Prevention Across the Continuum of Care, was very beneficial for the therapy team and residents in their facility. He shares that by recognizing the importance of speech therapy in fall prevention and safety awareness, the team is able to address fall prevention more holistically resulting in reduced falls and an improved quality of life for their residents. John now works hand in hand with the physical and occupational therapy teams utilizing interdisciplinary groups and co-treatment. John enjoys creating real life situations for those patients who are at-risk for falls to problem solve through.

The team also enjoys coordinating other interdisciplinary groups, including obstacle courses with challenges to maneuver wheelchairs and walkers around, addressing multiple functional areas at once. John revealed a major benefit to interdisciplinary groups has been the real-time communication between disciplines, sharing insights, and collaborating on care to ensure the group session is holistic with all areas are being addressed.

Thank you, John and the Tupelo Team, for demonstrating your dedication to providing the best care possible!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Krista LaFollette – July 2023

This month, our Clinician Who Inspires is Krista LaFollette, Champion Level I Therapist, DOR and COTA at Southern Hills Specialty Care. Krista shared her belief that authentic engagement with others is key to success as a team member in the skilled nursing facility. Whether that consists of a friendly hello to a resident, small talk with nursing staff, or sharing a smile with someone in the kitchen, Krista believes that being personable and recognizing others facilitates an open dialogue that will lead to positive outcomes.

Krista reflected on some of the lessons she has learned over her years as a therapist and DOR, including the importance of being willing to learn and ask questions. She shared that though she is confident in her skills as a clinician, she recognizes that having an open mind to the varying needs of each resident, across a wide range of diagnoses, is crucial in providing patient-specific, best in practice care. “We can’t know every diagnosis, or how it will affect each patient, but we can always continue to learn as we go.”

One of the things that Krista has learned from her residents is that creative treatment interventions can not only be effective, but also fun. Krista and her team make an effort to incorporate holiday preparation and celebration into their therapy sessions to keep spirits high while simultaneously working on functional goal targets. Holiday door decorating with wrapping paper, cut out letters, or creating paper chains to countdown the special day, are just a couple of examples.

Krista’s care for others, both teammates and residents, was evident in her shared insights. Thank you for your care, Krista—it is an inspiration to us all!   

Clinicians Who Inspire – Colby Millen – June 2023

This month’s Clinician Who Inspires is Colby Millen, DOR and PTA at Forest Haven Nursing Home. Colby spoke quite a bit about taking a comprehensive approach to patient care. He and the therapy team use innovative thinking to foster successful patient outcomes.   Colby elaborated about a particular patient who had trouble stopping while ambulating, walking directly into walls in front of him.  This is where creative thinking was utilized. A remote-controlled car was placed at the end of the hallway. The patient was told that if he stopped before the car, not running into it, then it would be his turn with the remote.  The continuation of this person-centered approach worked, and the patient’s family was stunned by the success.

In addition, Colby credits interdisciplinary collaboration as a major asset to patient care planning. An example of this is the Fall Team at his facility. During root cause analysis discussions regarding a resident who was falling frequently, Colby remembers reaching out to the clinical team for any additional guidance. One of the suggestions was to “go back to the basics.” Colby and the team implemented the patient’s favorite music and prior occupation into skilled therapy sessions. They were amazed that “going back to the basics” proved to be the intervention that was successful. Interdisciplinary collaboration also shines in group therapy at Forest Haven Nursing Home.

Colby spoke about the good relationship between the therapy team and nursing at his facility. He said therapy and nursing share in-depth discussions about any patient changes and difficulties. He stressed the importance of bringing concerns immediately to nursing so they can act quickly and vice versa with nursing communicating with therapy.

Finally, Colby spoke about attending this month’s Lunch and Learn webinar. The presenter said something that really resonated with Colby, “What you do for me, you take from me.” Colby used the example of a patient who can transfer out of bed on their own but needs a little more time. If care staff helps this patient instead of allowing the patient to do this on their own, potentially, the resident could eventually lose that skill and ability. Colby, your thoroughness, critical thinking, and care for not just your patients, but also the therapy team and nursing staff, is an inspiration to us all! Thank you for being a Clinician Who Inspires!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Sylvia Calhoun-Daniel – May 2023

Our Clinician Who Inspires this month is Sylvia Calhoun-Daniel, Champion Level I Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Rehab at New Iberia Manor North. Sylvia believes that balance is the key to being a successful clinician and rehab director.  She finds her work to be incredibly rewarding and attributes her ability to strike a balance with her job duties to the exceptional team she works with.

Sylvia reflected on lessons learned over the past 3 years, including how therapy and nursing worked together to ensure resident wellness remained top priority. She witnessed physical therapy walking patients to have their weights taken, morning therapy groups focusing on oral hygiene, and other examples of interprofessional collaboration while targeting therapy goals. She states, “Covid taught us that we really need each other” and credits teamwork to having such a close-knit staff.

One of Sylvia’s favorite treatment interventions is the SLP Lunch Date she holds with her patients when they are mastering swallowing techniques or have had a diet upgrade. These celebratory lunches are held in the gym, where she invites the resident’s loved ones to join them for a meal. This is not only an opportunity to provide therapeutic trials but also a purposeful time for Sylvia to provide caregiver education and safe swallowing strategy training. She goes above and beyond to make the lunch extra special, whether it’s with a slushy from Sonic that one resident was craving or a specially requested pasta dish from a daughter.

Sylvia’s message to other clinicians is simple: find balance and value each other. Thank you, Sylvia, for helping keep morale high and fostering an excellent team dynamic. Your unwavering dedication is an inspiration

Clinicians Who Inspire – Rhiannon Haynes, COTA/DOR – April 2023

This month we had the privilege of speaking with Rhiannon Haynes, COTA and DOR, Champion Level I, at Envive Healthcare of Hartford City, to share some insight and inspiration from clinicians in the field. As we discussed treatment interventions and interdisciplinary communication, it was evident that Rhiannon brings “good vibes only” everywhere she goes.

Rhiannon encourages therapists to have no fear in thinking outside the box, trying new things, and reaching out to colleagues when it comes to providing the best treatment for residents. She shared the importance of humor, positivity, and patient-centered goals to motivate residents to not only participate, but also enjoy their therapy sessions. Recently, the therapists at Hartford City have incorporated the use of ‘Alexa’ in their therapy gym. Whether it be to play music during exercise, practice communication skills with Q&A, or to catch up on the week’s weather forecast, it has proven to bring something extra to therapy. Rhiannon also shared that holiday groups to create crafts and door decorations help brighten the halls of their community.

The staff at Rhiannon’s facility share the common goal of being there for one another so that ultimately, they can be their best for their residents. She spoke of the interdisciplinary team as a “family unit” that values each person’s role in overall cohesion and communication. “We all talk to one another with openness and common respect. We treat each other how we want to be treated, and that makes it easy for good vibes.”

Rhiannon- thank you for sharing your good vibes with your residents, your “family unit”, and your therapy peers! You are an inspiration, and your care matters!