| A close connection between staff and residents makes care special at Cove’s Edge, believes Executive Director Cheryl Dobbelsteyn.
One of the first things Cheryl Dobbelsteyn noticed after becoming Executive Director of Cove’s Edge last year was how well staff knew their residents.
Nurses or Certified Nursing Assistants could tell her when their residents’ birthdays were, how they liked their coffee or who was at risk of falls. Over the past year, Dobbelsteyn has seen how that closeness also helps her staff spot the changes in behavior that are often the first clues that a resident’s medical condition is deteriorating.
A staff that knows their residents is also the reason the facility recently received Tier III recognition from the American Health Care Association (AHCA). The AHCA’s Quality Initiative Recognition Program recognizes AHCA nursing center members that demonstrate the attainment of AHCA Quality Initiative Goals.
“It is all about paying attention to the resident and what is going on with them,” said Dobbelsteyn.
One of the reasons staff have those connections with residents is that most of the staff is from the local community, as are most of the residents.
“People are caring for residents from this community. They know their resident’s children or their grandchildren or their neighbors or they grew up down the road,” said Dobbelsteyn.
Those connections help create a culture in which providers treat residents like people, not patients. It is also one reason Cove’s Edge has low level of hospital readmissions and a low level of anti-psychotic medication use.
The secret to keeping the hospital readmission rate down is first to make sure that patients are medically stable before they come to Cove’s and then to be aware of any change that can indicate a deteriorating medical condition, she said.
For example, the first sign of an acute infection in an elderly person might be delirium. They may seem confused or do things that are out of character. By spotting those first signs, nurses and CNAs can often catch an infection or other problem at an early stage before it becomes serious.
“They know the residents well enough to know when something is not right. So if somebody’s behavior really seems different, there is something wrong,” said Dobbelsteyn.
Knowing their residents, and engaging them in activities, also cuts down on the use of anti-psychotic drugs, said Dobbelsteyn.
Nationwide, antipsychotic drugs are over-prescribed for elderly patients, who may show signs of confusion that can be misdiagnosed as psychosis.
By keeping the use of anti-psychotic drugs to a minimum and engaging residents in activities, like soap making, flower arranging and gardening, Dobbelsteyn said Cove’s Edge providers keep patients more active.
“We don’t want to just house people. We don’t want to drug them to make them easy to manage. We want them to have quality of life,” she said.