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When is the Perfect Time to Recharge Your LTC Volunteer Program?

                                                                                                                                                       
When is the perfect time to recharge your nursing facility’s volunteer program?  Right now!   

All facilities can benefit from an outstanding volunteer program.  It can –   

  1. assist with improved quality of life for your residents by offering more people to socialize with them,
  2. decrease stress for your staff by having others around to respond to non-care needs, 
  3. and, when implemented correctly, can supplement your marketing efforts to increase census by     expanding the number of visitors in your building on a regular basis, observing the great care you’re providing.    

Start by establishing goals for each month this year and an overall goal to be achieved after twelve months.  Make the goals simple, realistic, and achievable.  Involve your entire team in the process, including any long-term volunteers that you currently have, and residents who have shown an interest.    

Your first goal should be to increase the number of volunteers or volunteer hours.  Establish a ‘campaign’ to achieve record-setting numbers for your program each month.  Ensure that your campaign is not just ‘dumped’ on the Activity Director.  Encourage your team to spread the message to groups that they are members of outside of work.    

Community engagement is the key.  Your marketing staff can assist with PR.  In smaller communities, inform your local chamber of commerce of the program and offer to speak at the next meeting.  Create a buzz in your community by contacting neighboring businesses, youth groups, schools, churches, and sororities.  Use your volunteer campaign and goals to drive your social media presence.    

Outline the potential benefits that volunteering can bring to your residents and request an interview with the local newspaper.  Contribute letters to the editor with the benefits of volunteering, updates to your goals, and calls to action for participation.  Offer to submit a monthly “Ways to Volunteer” column.   

Most importantly when beginning a volunteer program have resources available for the volunteers.  Utilize lists that can be reviewed with first-time volunteers to match their interests with your facility’s needs.  Assign each volunteer to a specific task and follow-up to ensure that they feel comfortable with it.  And always remember to follow your building’s policies and procedures regarding volunteers.   

What steps are you going to make this month to improve your volunteer program?  Is your ultimate goal to have one volunteer for every resident?  Have a great idea that has either worked for your facility or that you are planning to implement?  Share it here!   

Need ideas to improve your volunteer program?  Does your Social Service or Activities department need assistance with documentation?  Is your Indiana nursing facility in compliance with QMRP regulations?  Contact Julie at Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC (260-894-1417, julie@simmonshc.com) to start improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

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Have You Nominated Someone for an Age of Excellence Award?

                                                                                                                                                       


Nominations for the Age of Excellence awards are now open through REAL Services.  As stated on their site - "Our purpose is to recognize those individuals who quietly support their loved ones and their communities through daily acts of kindness, compassion and selflessness. They remind us in the most fundamental way, what is most meaningful in life. They remind us that we are truly serving a higher purpose when we serve our fellow man."  

Eligibility - Each award category is different and each has its own guidelines for eligibility. Nominees must work or live in Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Marshall or St. Joseph Counties, or provide care to persons residing in those counties. (Indiana)

Deadline for nominations - April 11, 2013 at 4pm.  The awards presentation will take place on May 16, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana.  The keynote speaker is scheduled to be singer and songwriter, Amy Grant.

Nominations can be made online here or by mail via this form (opens as a PDF).  

Nomination Categories - 

  • Business of the Year:  A care giving agency or business that displays a commitment to the elderly.
  • Caregiver of the Year for an Older Adult (60+):  An individual who unselfishly provides unpaid care to someone who is 60 years of age or older.
  • Caregiver of the Year for the Disabled (0-59):  An individual who unselfishly provides unpaid care to someone who is less than 60 years of age.
  • Education Award:  A student, classroom (Kindergarten through College), teacher or school administrator that has displayed an understanding of the value of older adults.
  • Hoosier Lifetime Award (over 60):  An individual, 60 years of age or older, who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to his or her community (paid or unpaid).
  • Professional of the Year:  An individual who, throughout their career, has provided dedicated service to older adults. (ex: nurse, police officer, home health aide, doctor, etc.)
  • Kimble Volunteer of the Year:  An individual, 60 years of age or older, who has displayed a commitment to volunteerism in service to the elderly.
  • Volunteer of the Year (under 60):  An individual, under 60 years of age, who has displayed a commitment to volunteerism in service to the elderly.
  • Volunteer Group of the Year:  A group of volunteers, who has displayed a commitment to volunteerism in service to the elderly.

Contact information for REAL Services can be found at the above links if you have any questions.
As always, contact Simmons Healthcare Consulting, LLC, with any questions, concerns, or needs related to your Quality of Life (Social Service, Activities, QMRP) departments.  

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Finding Transportation - A Not-So-Easy Task at Times

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For the Social Service folks out there, especially ones new to the industry...You're going through your day, feeling pretty good about the issues you're helping with, tasks you've accomplished, and then it happens - someone comes to you for assistance with transportation.  Particularly during the holiday season an increase in out-of-the-ordinary transportation arrangements is not unusual.  For some communities, this isn't difficult.  There's lots of public transportation, a facility van, or special mobility providers.  In other areas, especially rural ones, trying to obtain transportation for a resident outside of the normal routine can turn into an all-day event.  

Some resources that might help include - 

  • Disability.gov -The link to Indiana transportation resources
  • APTA (American Public Transportation Association) - Indiana transit links.  This page has a fairly extensive list by county.  
  • Your local Council on Aging - especially for rural communities
  • Indiana Area Agencies on Aging link
  • Veterans - DAV transportation link, or your local American Legion

If you have residents who might be needing transportation in the future, the best thing you can do is to start checking on the process now.  Dates tend to fill quickly.  Many providers have forms that need to be completed and/or cards that will need to be issued. Does the resident need a physician's clearance? Ensure there are proper MD orders in place.  Is there a fee?  And is the resident aware of any charges prior to the trip?

Need assistance with establishing a workable community resource list?  Contact SHC and we'll schedule a visit to continue improving Quality of Life services for your residents.

Alzheimer's Association Resource Guides

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The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Indiana has Resource Guides available for many Indiana communities.  They are essentially to assist caregivers in finding community resources.  However, for Social Service staff, it can also be a quick go-to guide when you need to find information for your residents regarding local transportation, legal assistance, meal delivery, neurologists, etc.  Staff or family members can order them free or download a copy through the Alzheimer’s Association by following this link.  Consider sharing the link or a copy of the guide with residents’ family members who might be struggling with a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis or attempting to cope with the transition to facility placement.  Need assistance with easy organization of your Social Service department’s community resources list?  Contact SHC and we’ll schedule a visit to assist your facility with improving Quality of Life services.

Geriatrics, Extended Care, and the VA

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The role of gatekeeper for discharge planning has become a crucial aspect for Social Service staff in LTC.  Ensuring that the resident has access to community resources will continue to be a priority.  For your Veterans, one of the easiest ways to coordinate their return to community living is to contact their VA social worker.  He/She can assist with determining eligibility for VA home benefits.  Most Veterans can meet the clinical criteria for home care assistance following LTC placement.  The following link outlines some of the available benefits - VA Geriatrics and Extended Care.  The programs can include a homemaker, HHA, skilled nursing, a SW, and potentially more as needed.  As with many areas of the VA, the important part is to start early in the discharge planning process.  Contact the local VA as soon as the initial admission assessment information is completed and it's determined that the resident is a Veteran and desires to eventually return home.  

Need assistance with streamlining your discharge planning process?  Contact SHC and we'll schedule a visit to help your facility continue improving Quality of Life services.