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Wesley Village - A Story of Planetree Continuing Care Implementation

Implementation Example - Director of Life’s Journey


When a staff member of 40 years began talking about her retirement and next steps last year, the administration at Bishop Wicke Health Center saw this as a perfect opportunity to expand its vision of relationship-centered care. 

Our social worker, Irene Scheld, has been with our organization since it opened its doors in 1969," notes Ron Bucci, Bishop Wicke Administrator.  "We saw that we could enhance her life's journey by creating a position where she could help others who are also transitioning to a new phase in their lives." 

They created a new part-time position, Director of Life's Journey, which works primarily with individuals who are moving from short-term rehabilitation to long-term care, or for those admitted to Bishop Wicke as long-term residents.  The flexible hours allow Irene to chair a series of small weekly discussion groups on each pavilion geared toward easing the transitions of these residents. 

For a short-term patient who moves to long-term care, there can definitely be some culture shock, because things are run differently on the subactute area.  Irene is the person who starts that dialogue about the differences.  She guides patients and their families through the process, opening lines of communication, getting residents and families to open up about their fears, proactively addressing concerns, and helping to navigate the transition. 

Residents who have been reluctant to participate in larger activities have warmed to the intimate conversation groups that have become a staple on the activities schedule.  All residents receive a personal invitation with a small daisy on the front.  "After dinner seems to be such a logical time to sit down and have a catch-up chat," Irene states.  When asked what they talk about, she states, "Whatever you would talk about at the day's end . . . . LIFE!"   

Of course, group members often share their feelings about the changes in their lives.  But more often than not, it's a smorgasbord of topics, with everyone chiming as they feel comfortable.  Topics range from extended families to the best way to can fruit.  A discussion of one-room schoolhouses recently revealed that 2 residents had attended the same grammar school.  A Christmas dinner party with food provided by a restaurateur family member brought an unprecedented crowd, primarily because of the bonds that have been formed among the group's participants. 

The health center has seen other important outcomes.  Residents participating in this program who had previously plateaued in rehabilitation have become more independent and are now seeing better results in rehab.  They have seen improvement in ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) as well as improvements in behavior.  The program has helped create community and optimize the culture on each pavilion, giving residents the opportunity to mingle and support one another in this time of transition.   And it ultimately has further transformed the culture of the organization, continuing to enhance relationship-centered care for residents, employees, and families.

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