Treating Adverse Behaviors

By Tara Meyepeter, OT, DOR, Keystone Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation, Omaha, NE
Keystone Ridge is a facility with a typical census of 72. Keystone is unique in the population in which they serve. Most typically, we serve residents who suffer/experience diagnoses that include homelessness, drug/alcohol addiction, and mental health disorders. With such disorders, we often see an increase in adverse behaviors, including self-isolation and denial of care. Our therapists have embraced looking at residents using an holistic approach. How do we serve their needs?

In one recent referral, a: 76-year-old female presented with a diagnosis that includes major depressive disorder and anxiety. She was referred to therapy due to her refusal to complete ADLs and her adverse behaviors (yelling, screaming) with caregivers. So often, we may look at this resident as “that’s just how she is.” The challenge to the team is, what can we do for this resident? Are we looking at the person as a whole?

In what way can we bring purpose? How do we increase their quality of life?
● Start building rapport. Be consistent. Trial different times to determine the most appropriate part of the day based on patient engagement.
● Establish likes/dislikes. A great tool to use is the Interest Checklist or Life History and Profile.
● Why are they refusing care? Is it more than behaviors? Find out their why. Most often it is more than just refusing. We used a sensory profile to determine sensory needs.

We have developed a friendship and trust. I discovered that my resident is sensory avoiding. She prefers the dark and is highly sensitive to clothing. She is very deconditioned from years of self-isolation and refusal to get out of bed. As a result, she is a high fall risk; however, she has good insight that it is not safe to walk alone. We determined her love for animals, specifically elephants. To work on sitting balance, we would watch the virtual zoo on the computer while seated at EOB. Little by little, I gained her trust.

Through these approaches, my resident has allowed me to cut off 12 inches of unkept matted hair, and most importantly, she is accepting my help with ADLs like showering. Now this took time, 1.5 months in fact! This is the person most often people chalk up to “That’s just the way she is.” My challenge to everyone is, are you treating at your optimal level of practice? Are we looking at the whole person?