Clinicians Who Inspire – May 2022 Halen Coker

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Halen Coker, DOR/SLP/Champion Level I Therapist at Pierremont Healthcare Center in Louisiana. Halen loves the added opportunities to communicate with family and caregivers in her role as DOR. As an SLP, she continues to expand her clinical skills by completing CEUs offered in Reliant University. She especially appreciates those courses targeting dysphagia and dementia. To target communication skills, Halen often plays various resident-preferred board and card games in a group setting. Recently, her focus has been on residents experiencing weight loss. She is working with the interdisciplinary team to brainstorm and utilize strategies to enhance the dining experience and improve mealtime intake. Halen attributes the positive vibes in the gym to the amazing team of clinicians she works with and their close collaboration. Not only do they continue to make the gym a fun and active place to be, but they also work to spread that positivity throughout the facility. She states, “this is their home, we have to make it happy.” Thank you, Halen and team, for being clinicians who inspire each other, your patients, and all your therapy peers!

Clinicians Who Inspire – April 2022 Alyssa Stead

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month, we spoke with Alyssa Stead, COTA/DOR and Champion Level II therapist from Avalon Care Center Sonora. Alyssa shared that though there have been challenges over the past two years, a shifted mindset has allowed the therapy team and residents something to look forward to.

As residents within the dementia unit were isolated from typical routines and interactions during the pandemic per federal guidance, Alyssa and her team took the initiative to create opportunities for meaningful participation. They obtained information about their residents’ interests and created kits that included materials for activities according to those interests. Through participation in these activity kits, Alyssa saw not only satisfaction from the residents, but also a decrease in some of the potential challenging behaviors that presented on their dementia unit. This successful intervention was something that both the residents and therapists could be excited about.

Even as the residents begin to regain a sense of normalcy, these activity kits remain relevant and beneficial. Alyssa Stead, COTA/DOR shared a quote that has always stuck her, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Taking the time to learn what is meaningful and motivating to a resident can go a long way in showing that you care.

Thank you, Alyssa and team at Avalon Care Center Sonora, for shifting your mindset and exemplifying Care Matters!

Clinicians Who Inspire – March 2022 Yvette Aquino-Luna

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month, we spoke with Yvette Aquino-Luna, Champion Level II therapist, OTA/DOR at Murrieta Health and Rehab.  Yvette shared that there have been a lot of changes for her team over the past few years. Through the many changes, she has seen the team grow, becoming like a cohesive family.  While continuing to provide excellent patient care, they have learned more about each other, and have even volunteered to learn aspects of the DOR role.  She said, “I honestly couldn’t do this job without the team we have here!”  

Last year, they won several awards, receiving Visa gift cards as prizes. Yvette used them to purchase an escape room, team building activity.  She said the team enjoyed the activity so much that they are planning to do something else in the spring, perhaps an obstacle ropes course.  She noted, learning to communicate “makes a big difference when time gets tough.”

Yvette expressed that “teams need to feel appreciated.”  She has accomplished this by obtaining lunch donations from local restaurants during spirit weeks. Yvette says, “they take care of the patients, so I try to take care of them.”  Her advice for any team is to get to know your co-workers as we often “spend more time here at work than we do with our own families.”  Thank you, Yvette and team at Murrieta Health and Rehab, for remaining positive and adapting to help each other flourish.

Clinicians Who Inspire – February 2022 Kale Hintz

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month, we spoke with Kale Hintz, Mentor Therapist and PTA/DOR at Premier Estates of Kenesaw.  Kale says that the biggest tip he can share with fellow clinicians working during the COVID-19 pandemic is flexibility. From staffing challenges, patients and colleagues testing positive for COVID, to evolving procedural changes, being flexible and having a good team with you are key components to success. Kale reports that having a positive attitude has given his team the ability to make everything run smoothly for their patients and other staff members despite a high number of variables and obstacles. Thank you, Kale and team at Premier Estates of Kenesaw, for remaining upbeat and adapting as needed in order to help your patients and each other flourish.

Clinicians Who Inspire – January 2022 Cindy Akins

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. We spoke with Cindy Akins, Champion Level II Therapist and COTA/DOR. Cindy shared that effective time management, collaboration, and creativity have helped to maintain positive morale and success in her facilities.

Cindy spoke about some of the processes she uses to organize her time between the facilities where she provides care, highlighting the benefits of good organization in managing time while maintaining a positive attitude. She spoke to the importance of recognizing the impact of what we do as therapists: serve the needs of others, as a catalyst to motivate her to always keep keeping on.

Cindy also shared some innovative ideas for group therapy that have allowed residents to participate in functional, everyday activities that they enjoy. With facility and community collaboration, her facility was able to set up a fishing tournament for their residents using stocked water tanks, fishing poles, and therapeutic interventions. “We’re always trying to find activities that are functional, that will keep residents doing the things that they like.” This activity was such a hit that it is going to become an annual, community event. Cindy emphasized that therapeutic events like these become possible with the teamwork of all players on the interdisciplinary team.

Thank you, Cindy Akins, Champion Level II Therapist and COTA/DOR, for sharing your positivity and inspiration with those in your sphere of influence. You are making a difference!

Clinicians Who Inspire: September 2021 Melissa Huggins

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Melissa Huggins, Champion Level II Therapist, PTA, and Director of Rehabilitation at Panora Specialty Care in Iowa.  Melissa states that dealing with the effects of COVID-19 really forced her to think outside the box.  She mentioned the need for creativity in therapy interventions to help encourage participation in sessions.  Melissa and her team like to use Reliant resources like A Year of Wellness to help generate creative ideas.  One of Melissa’s favorite activities has been card making with patients during therapy.  The patients worked on their individualized therapy goals in conjunction with making cards for other residents who weren’t getting as much interaction.  A lot of the residents knew of others who might benefit from a little “pick-me-up” card, but if not, the therapy staff assisted in making those connections.  As part of their therapy intervention, the patients were often able to deliver the cards to their resident friends in person.  Melissa reports that these cards made everyone, from the therapy staff to the residents, very happy!  These interactions helped residents who were spending more time in their rooms to socialize and, in some cases, even leave their rooms to connect with other residents.  Melissa also reports that pictures of residents in therapy sessions being featured on social media is seen as a privilege.  One resident even told her, “You’re going to make me a star!”  Not only are your residents STARS to us, Melissa, but you are also as is the entire team at Panora Specialty Care!

Clinicians Who Inspire: August 2021 Shannon Rasmussen

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Shannon Rasmussen, Champion Level II Therapist, and SLP at Pecan Tree Rehabilitation & Healthcare in Texas. Shannon states that working through the pandemic was the most trying time of her SLP career.  What kept her encouraged during those times is the advice she now gives other clinicians, “remember why you became a therapist.” Shannon stresses the importance of staying focused on remembering that we are in our field of work to help others. This focus is what motivated her to use her vocation to provide a positive, meaningful impact during the pandemic. When social isolation became a reality in her facility, Shannon decided to tackle a very real consequence of isolation- weight loss. She met with the dietary manager, and together they initiated a snack cart, filled with a variety of the residents’ favorite snacks. This cart would make its rounds at the facility and provide a real pick-me-up (and additional calories) to the residents spending increased time in their rooms. As in many facilities, another area of concern was the loss of communal meals. Shannon recognized that residents spending increased time in bed could negatively impact their cognitive and communication skills. She worked with the IDT to ensure residents were up and enjoying mealtimes. She even facilitated roommates enjoying socially distanced meals together while seated and facing each other to promote mealtime conversations and socialization. These seemingly straightforward strategies are just a couple of examples of Shannon and her IDT communicating, brainstorming, and working together to bring back some sense of normalcy during demanding times and a reminder to us to focus on our calling to provide patient-centered care. Thank you, Shannon, and team, for being clinicians who inspire each other, your patients, and all of your therapy peers! Keep up the amazing work you do each and every day!

Condensed Version:

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Shannon Rasmussen, Champion Level II Therapist, and SLP at Pecan Tree Rehabilitation & Healthcare in Texas.  What kept her encouraged during trying times is the advice she now gives other clinicians, “remember why you became a therapist.”  When social isolation became a reality in her facility, Shannon decided to tackle a very real consequence of isolation- weight loss. Together with the dietary manager, they initiated a snack cart, filled with a variety of the residents’ favorite snacks. Another area of concern was the loss of communal meals. She facilitated roommates enjoying socially distanced meals together while seated and facing each other to promote mealtime conversations. These are just some examples of Shannon and her IDT working together to bring back some sense of normalcy during demanding times and a reminder to us to focus on our calling to provide patient-centered care. Thank you, Shannon, and team, for being clinicians who inspire each other, your patients, and all of your therapy peers! Keep up the amazing work you do each and every day! #CareMatters

Clinicians Who Inspire: July 2021 Danielle Grove

Through the Clinicians Who Inspire series, we continue to share motivation, creativity, and inspiration from clinicians in the field. This month we spoke with Danielle Grove, Mentor Therapist, COTA and Director of Rehab at University Park Nursing and Rehab in Iowa. Danielle credits her facility’s ability to maintain positive morale throughout the pandemic to continual communication with an interdisciplinary team approach. She shared the impact of therapy education and training with nursing staff on repositioning, swallowing, and ADL completion; allowing continual care and success even when restrictions were put in place to mitigate risks of transmission. “Without all of us working together, we wouldn’t be able to come together to be successful and positive for our patients”. Danielle also shared her team’s focus on promoting positivity throughout their building and community with patient-centered groups and celebrations. She recommends use of Reliant’s “A Year of Wellness” program, collaboration with Activities and Marketing departments within the facility, and collaboration with patients to identify fun ideas and opportunities to gather for a therapeutic activity that may also serve as a bright spot in your patients’ day. Through Danielle and her team’s efforts, they’ve seen a change in not only their building’s morale, but also their reputation in the community. Thank you, Danielle and team, for being clinicians who inspire each other, your patients, and all of your therapy peers! Keep up the amazing work you do each and every day!