Abilities Care Training Success for Milestone and Sunstone Markets

Submitted by Elyse Matson, MA CCC-SLP, Speech Resource
On a recent Saturday in Lehi, Utah, nearly 80 therapists gathered to fulfill our mission to “dignify long-term care in the eyes of the world.” Our amazing team of facilitators included Kelly Alvord, PT; Amanda Grace, OT,; Patty Fantauzzo, COTA/DOR, representing the IDT process; and Elyse Matson, SLP. Milestone and Sunstone leaders Gary Mcgiven and Asa Gardine did an amazing job gathering such a strong group on a Saturday and of course keeping everyone well-fed for the day.

Although the course trainers have taught this course many times, it was truly one of the most inspiring discussions about dementia care! Adding the IDT approach meant great questions and discussion from nursing partners about topics like care planning and the use of the Kardex as well as Quality Measures.
Patty Fantauzzo, who comes from an all-dementia facility, always has amazing examples of personalized dementia care, including cohorting of similar ACL leveled residents, training every member of the facility staff about Allen levels using a lanyard and card with ACL levels, and the use of a shadow box system for personalization of resident spaces.

The breakout sessions allowed therapists from each discipline to delve into the program from their perspective. For example, the SLPs discussed the use of communication support in this population as well as how simple communication tasks can greatly improve the interaction between residents with dementia and caregivers.

The course was made better by all who attended! Thank you so much for an amazing day.

Congratulations to NCI’s Newest CTO

Submitted by Aimee Bhatia, Therapy Resource, NCI, California
Wervonn “Vonn” Malabanan has been the Director of Rehab at Camarillo Healthcare Center since July 1, 2021. Prior to that, he had been a dedicated and influential member of the therapy team and had participated in the DORiTO program, which allowed him to actively engage in many leadership tasks prior to moving into this role. Vonn has a heart of gold. He leads with a gentle toughness. He is warm and easily approachable and truly cares about his team, yet he leads with a directness and firmness that leaves no gray area.

Throughout his short time at Camarillo, he has already made his mark. He has grown the LTC programming in-house in an admirable way with solid documentation training and with amazing outcomes for the residents. the Part B MSCA results show just how strong this programming is in the facility. Productivity, despite multiple COVID outbreaks in his first year, has been one of the strongest in the market, and his purposeful use of G & C to foster success has been noteworthy. Vonn has also been a leader in the market in better management of managed care. He teamed up with his ED to truly ensure they provide therapy to the contract terms and has come up with creative ways of providing additional opportunities for engagement and progress for the residents.

Leadership development is another strength Vonn possesses. He has uplifted many of his therapy team members by giving them opportunities to grow — anything from encouraging student mentorship and working with IDT for care plan meetings to empowering the team to engage in leadership tasks throughout the day and allowing his teams to engage in decision-making.

Vonn has done an amazing job fostering relationships with many therapy schools across the country. It is not rare for the team to host five or six students at a time year-round. It is one of the most robust student programs I have seen anywhere. Even Vonn takes on students in order to avoid saying “no” to schools. The hiring Vonn has done in his time there has been top-notch as well, with a thorough interview process, team involvement in hiring, and good mentorship to ensure an easy transition for new-hires.

Not only have Vonn’s metrics been extremely solid, but his dedication to the building has been remarkable, too. Vonn has a deep love for the entire facility. He works with DSD and Nursing to provide training to CNAs upon hire and as needed to ensure proper body mechanics, safety, and knowledge in caring for their residents. He steps in with other department heads to fill in and assist wherever needed. . He actively participates in facility celebrations and activities, helping to foster a greater relationship between Therapy and the rest of the facility. He is also an extremely valued partner to his DON and ED. The amount of pride they take in what he brings to the facility is amazing to see. It is not often I have EDs and DONs reaching out to me to nominate their therapy leaders for CTO, and certainly not this early in a leadership role. Vonn has made a tremendous impact and truly has a great future in the facility and the organization as a whole.

Vonn has great ideas, he has amazing clinical skills, and the solid leadership he brings to his team has made a remarkable impact on the facility.

Moment of Truth

From Cara Koepsel, Therapy Resource, Keystone – North, Texas
At the Healthcare Resort of Plano, something extraordinary happened this month. Our new DOR, Stephanie Wentworth, shared a moment of truth that was definitely worth sharing with others outside of their facility. These moments of truth are happening every day in our facilities but often don’t get shared, and they certainly should be!

One of the Healthcare Resort’s speech therapists, Andrew Royall, approached Stephanie to see if the facility could invest in a piano for their residents. Andrew and fellow therapist and outpatient coordinator Adam Krahl set out to find a piano at a low cost to the facility. They were able to find one that was going to be zero cost to the facility as long as they picked it up and transported it. Adam jumped on it and brought his trailer all the way to the pick-up site to transport this piano back to Plano!

The piano is now in the front area of the facility, and it looks amazing! The joys of music are now accessible to residents, a population that benefits greatly from the ability to connect and reminisce through song. The teamwork they showed to get the piano to the facility, all while yielding a zero-cost asset to the facility, will benefit residents, staff, visitors, and others well beyond just the therapy population! This shows the positive culture of the therapy team at Plano and what it looks like to have passion meet purpose. The culture of loving one another, our residents, and everyone in the whole facility was exemplified through Andrew and Adam and shows that our new leader, Stephanie, is already promoting this culture within her team and the facility!

Facility-Wide Celebration at Mission Hills

By Maybelle Hui, OTR/L, PAM, DOR, Mission Hills Post Acute Care, San Diego, CA
I wanted to send some pictures over to show everyone how Mission Hills Post Acute Care has been celebrating! In the last year, we’ve had five “best months ever” for taking care of our long-term residents with our clinical programs.. For our last “best month ever” in October, we decided to share our celebrations with our whole facility. It actually started with one of my therapists suggesting we do some kind of celebration with the CNA staff, as they all work so hard. I wanted to share this celebration with the Nursing staff as well, since we are down to only three Nursing managers holding down the fort at Mission Hills and they are all working well beyond their job duties. One of my other therapists also wanted to include Maintenance and Housekeeping since they also are so integral in keeping our building running. So, with all this, we decided to ask our administrator if we could just make this a facility-wide celebration so everyone could celebrate with us and feel included. And of course, he said yes! 😊

We are so lucky to have this culture of recognition and celebration — one that we’re aware not all departments have — and we wanted to share our successes with our colleagues since they all play a role in the care of our long-term patients. We decided to have a “Boodle Fight,” a practice that originated in the Philippines military, where a big pile of food is served in the middle of a really long table in a mess hall; every hungry soldier eats with their hands, symbolizing camaraderie, brotherhood, and equality in the military. The “fight” in the name refers to the act of grabbing and eating as much as the soldier can before others grab them, otherwise you won’t have any. In retrospect, it is symbolic of what our Rehab department was trying to do with this celebration in the first place!

All That Jazz Brings Back Memories and Camaraderie

Submitted by Sarah Scott MS, CCC-SLP, Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation, Lehi, UT
Micki Allred is a new addition to the ranks of Ensign Affiliate SLPs! She was a graduate student clinician at Pointe Meadows Health and Rehabilitation with a considerable aptitude for AAC and working with dementia patients. She accepted a position with Pointe Meadows and Provo Rehab and quickly became full time at Provo. Within her first month of full-time employment, Micki has been changing lives.

Pointe Meadows has a long-term resident, Jim, who has dementia and a history of CVA. Additionally, he has late-life loss of vision and became totally blind four years ago. Jim is a complex and dynamic personality with a lifetime of experiences. He raised five children as a single dad, ran his own business, played professionally as a jazz musician (drummer), and earned a black belt in martial arts.

Jim lived at an assisted living facility and declined in functional ability prior to admission to Pointe Meadows. At the time of admission, the patient spent the majority of his time in bed, resisted wheelchair and other activities, and stated, “I have no purpose.” He had a significantly reduced tolerance of ambient noise with hearing loss and demonstrated agitation in complex environments like the dining room.

Enter Micki. Micki earned a master’s degree in music prior to earning her master’s in communication disorders. She discovered through interview and personal history questions that JMicki’s husband, John (who is also a musician), and Jim have common connections. John’s friend Lars, who is a well-known bass player, played in a band with Jim in the 1960s. Micki went to work to create a meaningful group experience for Jim and many other residents and patients on speech therapy. John and Lars performed jazz music, demonstrating concepts Micki taught, including music dynamics (pianissimo, mezzo-forte, fortissimo), improvisation, melody, etc.

Notably, 30 residents and patients attended the group with rapt attention. Several “wanderers” engaged in the lesson/performance without loss of attention. The SLP team and graduate students circulated to facilitate participation and accuracy. Jim sat front and center for the 50-minute-long group, stayed to visit with other residents for an hour, and then ate lunch in the dining room. After lunch, he had plenty of energy and willingness to participate in OT.

Thank you, Micki, for bringing Jim and the Pointe Meadows crew “All That Jazz.”

Group Refinishing Project Brings Sense of Purpose

By Tess Hurley, DPT, Meadow View Nursing & Rehabilitation, Nampa, ID
In autumn 2022, the Meadow View Therapy Department teamed up with maintenance staff and residents to refinish the weathered, wooden outdoor furniture. This project consisted of refurbishing 12 tables and over 20 chairs.

Throughout the crisp and sunny weather, Therapy, maintenance staff, and residents worked together to sand, stain, and seal the wood. The much-used and appreciated outdoor furniture was given new life!

One of our patients stated, “I am so excited that I can hardly sleep!” This project gave residents the opportunity to feel a sense of purpose, achievement, and pride in their work. The group activity doubled as a therapeutic activity, as the residents were able to work on improving their strength and cardiovascular endurance.

The residents also enjoyed getting out of their rooms and having time to socialize with others while working. Each day for over a week, our Therapy staff assisted each patient for an hour. The patients would listen to their favorite tunes, provide valuable sequential advice in regard to the proper steps, and actively participate in the physical task of woodworking — all with smiles on their faces. Our residents enjoyed refinishing the tables, as it gave them an opportunity to contribute to their homes and community by improving an outdoor socializing space. Also, the residents are of a generation in which disposal of useful items is unheard of. Thus, the fact that they helped refurbish existing, functional wood furniture was not only beneficial for their psyches, but it saved Meadow View an estimated $3,500 to replace those items.

Now when our therapists take residents outside to ambulate and exercise, they can use the tables as a way to motivate the residents and remind them of their hard work. The patients responded very positively and stated that it helped them feel more excited about going outside and that they felt more at home. One patient stated, “It felt good to contribute to my home, and it reminded me of my good ol’ days.”

Therapy Recruiting with Our Leaders

By Scott Hollander, Therapy Recruiting Resource
The therapy recruiting resource team wants to express how much we appreciate each of you who contributed and participated in therapy recruiting in 2022. This past year, we had the privilege of getting back in-person with students and veteran therapists in career fair and convention settings and professional healthcare networking mixers. Leaders being present at these events has been the best part of this return to in-person events. Many of you have had a career fair suitcase mailed to you and have been the sole representative in these efforts. Thank you!

Significant impact was made at ASHA and AOTA. At ASHA, we had three of our SLP master clinicians present, and it was great to see the therapy recruiting resources step back and watch Sarah Scott, Melissa Alexander, and Hannah Allen take the spotlight and share who we are as an organization and the impact that we are having on long-term care and post-acute rehab in the eyes of the world. At AOTA, it was great to have so many of our OTs and COTAs come to our booth and share with others how special it is to be a part of our organization. Stephanie Cole, Patty Fantauzzo, Joe Pergamo, Mira Waszak, TJ Petty, Sarah Boone, Martin Monarrez, Denny Davis, Jenny Farley and Lito Ortiz’s team have all helped with guest lectures at universities across the country. We have held healthcare professional networking events in Rhode Island, New York, Tennessee, Texas (Stephanie Winkler is the highlight of all of these in Texas), California, Washington, Utah, Arizona, and Nebraska and appreciate everyone who has contributed to these events.

We are privileged to work with so many great leaders and with such a unique and strong organization. We love and appreciate every one of you. We wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Change of Condition Strategy Pays Off

By Todd Burgener PT, DPT, CBIS, DOR, Mount Ogden Health and Rehabilitation, Ogden, UT
Mount Ogden has traditionally been very proud of their low readmission rates, high employee retention rates, and 0% agency utilization. As Mount Ogden has emerged from the COVID-19 era within the last year, the situation has changed. As with the rest of the industry, Mount Ogden found itself dealing with a staffing crisis, including with CNAs and nurses. While experiencing ever-increasing turnover rates in all departments and increased agency usage, the resulting readmission rates began to soar. It became very apparent that certain systems such as change of condition reporting needed an overhaul. The Mount Ogden Therapy department recognized that we had an opportunity to support our nursing partners and play a more active role in this effort.

After several strategy sessions, operation “Change of Condition” was born. The Therapy department made a few critical strategic changes, which included moving therapists’ weekly schedules to four 10-hour shifts to allow them to attend morning and afternoon nursing huddles. During those huddles, high-risk change of condition patients were identified. These patients would be a focus during therapy sessions, where detailed vitals would be taken and reported back to Nursing. Therapists would have more supervision and monitoring of these individuals to be able to prevent any changes of condition or at least be able to intervene more quickly if a change of condition occurred.

Since these changes have gone into effect, we have seen significant changes in our readmission rates, from 28% in July of 2022 to 8.3% in October. Our staffing has stabilized, as we have been able to focus on recruiting and retaining nurses and CNAs.

Presenting the First CMO Award for Endura

By Maryanne Bowles, Endura Therapy Resource, Colorado
Back in January 2021, I presented on the resource call about thinking outside of the box on what therapy could do to help Clinical and opportunities we could take. I presented on an MDS coordinator position being held by a therapist. The position works closely with the nursing team and completed MDS are reviewed and signed by a nurse. In this situation our therapist MDS coordinator has her work signed off by her MDS coordinator Apollonia Williams, RN, MDS Coordinator

This week, we presented Carolyn Pluta, OTR/L, CMC, MDS coordinator at South Valley Post-Acute, with the first CMO award for Endura. As the MDS Resource Appy Williams, RN wrote: “Carolyn, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. You’ve helped pave the way in MDS for Endura, and we are so grateful for all you have done.”

Carolyn began her career as an OT at Julia Temple Specialized Care in 2015 as a staff OT and clinical lead. Carolyn wanted to grow as a leader in therapy. Carolyn then became the DOR at Arvada Care Center in 2017 through 2021 and was a therapy Summit attendee in 2019. Carolyn wanted to grow within the company she loved and with the population she adored, so she expressed interest in the MDS coordinator position with her supervisors and colleagues. “People can’t support you or let you know of opportunities if they don’t know what you are striving for,” she notes. She applied at our Acquisition building South Valley Post Acute and grew to become the first cluster lead MDS coordinator and a mentor for new MDS coordinators. She truly has helped to hold the facility accountable to reach its goals each quarter. We are proud of Carolyn and where she has gone with her desire to achieve this honor in her role. Congratulations — what a great success!

My CAPLICO Journey

By Jasmine M Bala, OTR/L, DOR, Mystic Park Nursing & Rehabilitation, San Antonio, TX
Customer second! That was the reason I joined the movement. My grandmother instilled this principle in me early in life — that you can’t give what you don’t have. So, you need to love yourself first before you can love other people.

It was February 2019 when I joined the Sonterra Family; Lindsay Fry hired me. I loved my peers and I loved the freedom to be the therapist I wanted to be. However, I think I was too comfortable for a while. Lindsay keeps pushing me to start leading. I remembered telling her I’m allergic to stress … “I can never be a DOR,” I thought.

Then DORiTO came in early 2022. Being a DORiTO opened my eyes. My trip to the Service Center made me see the heart of servant leadership up close and personal. I grasped CAPLICO. I saw the great example of people breathing and living CAPLICO in every way. I saw how ownership works and how beautiful love one another is, and I went home with one goal: to Live CAPLICO.

Great things don’t come easy; it takes time and resilience. Mystic Park was my answered prayer. On October 1, 2022, I transitioned to my new home, Mystic Park. CAPLICO was alive and strong! I was in awe of how everyone worked together and supported each other. People from the Service Center, resources from everywhere, and the cluster family came over to help out. DORs from other facilities came and were treating, evaluating patients, and helping out. When the state came for a full book on our second week, I was never shaken. The support was overwhelming. CAPLICO was there on day one. Lindsay, my constant guide and friend, stood with me and is still standing.

The goal was to build a strong team (we only had two therapists when we started: one COTA and one SLP). We sought to bring in the right people and lay the foundation: CAPLICO. During our first month, we were able to build such a beautiful team. The residents were ecstatic, families were overjoyed, and staff was amazed at how we were able to turn the building around. We saw success story after story after story! Family, staff, and residents continued stopping by to give appreciation for what Rehab was doing. And to top it off, in our first month, we hit our target! Having an ED who has your back is everything! Osiris is awesome! Attached are pictures of our first team building/celebration for a job well-done!

Now I can say I love being a DOR, and I can’t wait to start training, supporting my staff, and growing with them as they find their inner geniuses. After all, we are in the business of building leaders. To Dignify Long Term Care in the Eyes of the World is my WHY. CAPLICO is my HOW.