Clinicians Who Inspire – Rochelle Healy – March 2024

This month’s Clinician Who Inspires is Rochelle Healy, SLP and Champion Level II Therapist at St. Sophia Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Rochelle reminisced on how she wanted to become an SLP for as long as she could remember.  With her love of all things language, her fascination with the brain and its many functions, and her love of helping others it seemed that speech language pathology was the perfect fit. 

To this day, her passion for speech and language persists. As a way of paying it forward and building the future of SLP, Rochelle mentors students and facilitates their growth. She enjoys giving students as many opportunities as possible to build their knowledge base and provide them with practical application scenarios to build on their classroom studies. She stated, “I actually learn just as much from them as they do me, their fresh take on things is invaluable.”

When she’s not educating students and learning from her peers, she is implementing “Fun Fridays” with her patients.  On each Friday they have fun groups which entail patient-led ideas to address focused goals.  From modified “catch phrase” to learning new card games, Rochell ensures a FUN time is had by all. Rochelle shared that her primary motivation as a therapist is getting to watch her patients succeed.  She said that the biggest factor in success with her patients is allowing them autonomy to lead their sessions, letting them use their voice to decide how the treatment session will flow.

Thank you, Rochelle, for sharing your passion and inspiring other clinicians to continue the important work we do every day!

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!

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!

Clinicians Who Inspire – Richa Kohli, PT – March 2023

Richa Kohli, PT has worked in several different settings and with various patient populations. For the last 7 years, Richa has worked solely with geriatrics which is unequivocally her favorite. When it comes to providing physical therapy (PT) to geriatrics, Richa states it’s all about “being patient.” Richa, who also has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, says that when she intently listens to her patients they reciprocate and are more prone to listen to what she has to tell them in relation to PT. Richa also spoke of how important it is to make treatment personal and to take into consideration what the patient wants to do. Embracing what your patient needs or wants helps to avoid treatment becoming mundane.

Richa talked greatly about the fun group activities that her team is a part of. They partner twice a week with activities for group and find that this interdisciplinary approach allows for better coordination and participation.  

As the sole PT in her facility, Richa doesn’t miss a chance to encourage her peer therapists to broaden their knowledge base. Richa enjoys taking courses on Reliant U and reviewing journal articles to grow her skill set and equip herself with knowledge to provide evidence-based treatment.

Richa, thank you for all you do for your residents and fellow therapists. Thank you for reminding us to always listen empathetically and continue to learn and grow daily to positively impact our patients’ lives. You are an inspiration and your care matters!

Quarterly Confidential Feedback Reports for FY 2024 SNF VBP Program Available

The March 2023 Quarterly Confidential Feedback Reports for the FY 2024 SNF VBP Program are now available to download via the Quality Improvement and Evaluation System (QIES)/Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reports (CASPER) reporting system. These reports contain interim stay-level data for the SNF 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Measure (SNFRM) for 10/1/2021 – 6/30/2022 (Quarter 1 – Quarter 3 of FY 2022, the FY 2024 SNF VBP Program performance period). The interim data contained in these reports are not final and are subject to change; thus, they are not eligible for the SNF VBP Program’s Review and Correction process.

CLICK HERE to review the FAQs.

CMS Nursing Home Stakeholder Call on 2/22/23

On February 22, 2023, CMS held a Nursing Home Stakeholder Call as part of a series of calls prior to the end of the PHE on May 11, 2023. Topics discussed included the following:

  • End of the Qualifying Stay and Benefit Waiver – The qualifying hospital (3-day) stay and benefit period (100-day refresh without the 60-day wellness) waivers will end on 5/11/23. Clarifying examples provided indicated waiver application may be applied for qualifying patient whose stay begins on or before 5/11/2023. Stakeholders were reminded that CMS is unable to extend these waivers beyond the PHE, any permanent solution would have to be implemented by congress through legislation.
  • Billing of vaccines under Part B – Billing of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies during a Part A stay under the guise of consolidated billing and excluded under the bundle and billed under Part B will be in effect until June 30, 2023.
  • Vaccination requirements and reporting – Staff vaccinations (primary series only) will continue to be required until 11/5/24 and reporting of vaccinations under NHSN must be completed until 12/21/24.
  • COVID-19 testing requirements – End when the PHE expires; however, nursing homes are still going to be expected to test per CDC standards for infection control and prevention.
  • Staffing study – Data is still being collected and analyzed on the staffing study. CMS is currently reviewing the data to determine what policies will be implemented.  CMS reiterated stakeholders will have ample time to provide feedback on any proposed changes.

Preparing for the End of the PHE Fact Sheets

As we prepare for the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023, CMS and HHS have released fact sheets to aid in a smooth transition.

The PHE Fact Sheet includes information on

  • COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatments.
  • Telehealth services.
  • Nurse Aide Training for Nursing Homes.

The LTC Fact Sheet highlights

  • The end of the 3-day prior hospitalization and 60-day wellness period waivers at the end of the PHE.
  • Payment for COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.

The COVID-19 PHE Transition Roadmap outlines flexibilities and processes that will and will not be affected by the end of the PHE.

CMS has agreed to provide additional resources as the end of the PHE nears. Reliant Rehabilitation will continue to keep you updated as new information is released.

 

Clinicians Who Inspire – February 2023 – Dana Marsh

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Dana Marsh, Champion Level I Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Rehab at Spring Valley Care Center. Dana states, “You’re never going to regret being kind.” Her favorite part of working in long-term care is being able to utilize her speech pathology skillset to improve outcomes with the added bonus of incorporating small acts of kindness that make a huge difference in patients’ lives.

Dana holds regular morning groups (pictured here) where patients are guided through skilled prompting, modeling, and use of compensatory strategies to share current events, games, snacks, and coffee while targeting their speech and language goals.

For clinicians looking to further their knowledge with education courses, Dana recommends Clinical Effects and Considerations of Stroke Based on the Affected Region of the Brain, a Reliant University course she completed that describes common clinical manifestations of stroke based on the affected region of the brain, and discusses the implications on treatment strategies and consideration.

Dana values student internships at her facility from local universities. She enjoys the mentorship opportunities it presents and has even gained additional team members from these placements. Her biggest piece of advice to her clinical colleagues is to work together with all the various departments in the facility. She feels that working together with all departments ensure that everyone feels valued and unified in the overall goal to ensure that patients are receiving the best care. Thank you, Dana, for sharing your passion and creativity with your patients, interdisciplinary team, and therapy peers!

 

SNF Provider Preview Reports Now Available

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Provider Preview Reports have been updated and are now available. These reports contain provider performance scores for quality measures, which will be published on Care Compare and Provider Data Catalog (PDC) during the April 2023 refresh.

 

The data contained within the Preview Reports are based on quality assessment data submitted by SNFs from Quarter 3, 2021 through Quarter 2, 2022. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among Healthcare Personnel (HCP) measure reflects data from Quarter 2, 2022. The data for the claims-based measures will display data from Quarter 3, 2019 through Quarter 4, 2019 and Quarter 3, 2020 through Quarter 2, 2021 for this refresh, and for the SNF Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) measure, from Quarter 4, 2020 through Quarter 3, 2021.

 

Providers have until February 16, 2023, to review their performance data. 

Promoting Mental Health in Long-Term Care

The month of January hosts National Popcorn Day and National Compliment Day among other lighthearted celebrations; however, it is also known to be Mental Wellness month. Before this month comes to an end, let’s take some time to discuss the importance of mental health awareness in long-term care and evaluate current efforts in place to promote mental wellness.

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, 65-90% of nursing home residents are affected by a mental health disorder. Furthermore, research tells us that decreased mental health can affect both cognitive and physical functioning, and ultimately, a resident’s quality of life. With this knowledge, it’s not surprising that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated requirements and compliance processes related to mental health services in the long-term care setting. Awareness of the effects of mental health on residents is imperative, but only one piece of the puzzle in the greater picture of optimized mental wellness. Focus on facility processes that facilitate opportunities for residents to feel like their best selves is a key component to success.

Listed below are some practical ways for skilled nursing facilities to promote mental wellness among residents:

  • Maintain connection with friends and family. Provide accessibility to necessary devices for planning and interaction.
  • Increase opportunities for decision-making. Offer choices in meal options, leisure activities, and daily routine.
  • Provide activities to promote physical and mental exercise. Encourage residents to safely participate in memory games, puzzles, and home exercise programs.
  • Encourage social interaction through group activities. Ensure every resident is invited to attend celebrations, group activities, and/or community outings.
  • Implement resident-specific interests in daily life. Promote facility staff awareness of each resident’s motivation and activities of interest.

Reliant strives to serve with you to promote the mental health of residents in your facility. Reach out to your Reliant partners to learn more.