Updated: Apr 5, 2022
By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
Physical, Occupational, Cognitive, Speech, IV, Oxygen, and Music therapy. These programs are the components that we have to thank for the quality of therapy and life within our long-term care communities.
The quality of therapeutic services can make a world of difference in the lives of those living within a long-term care community. In May 2021, Skyview Nursing Center and Oak Hills Care Center, under the management of Voyage LTC, officially moved their therapy opportunities in-house, rather than using contract employees from a third-party company.
Director of Rehabilitation, Lindsey Smith, and most of her team had already been working under the third-party contract company with our residents for the past two years when the transition was initiated. When Smith and her team got the opportunity to work directly under Voyage LTC, there was no hesitation, “It was exciting that we got to stay where we already put roots,” Smith said.
Smith states that her and the team have priorities in place, “We make sure that people can go to the bathroom, dress, get up, move around, and feed themselves independently. Once we have established that they can do that, we will then strengthen what they do have or modify what they don’t have. We just try to get them to the highest independent level possible.”
Therapeutic Practices in Depth
OTPTST, (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy), are the primary focus for the rehabilitation programs within our communities. Occupational Therapy, (OT), guides patients through activities of daily living, also known as ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), like using the bathroom, moving around in a wheelchair, eating with utensils, and upkeeping personal hygiene and grooming. OT also includes treatments like assisted stretching, aquatic therapy, behavioral assistance, and practice with social skills. Our OT therapists record a patient’s progress and give them the skills to apply their continued rehabilitation.
Physical Therapy, (PT), working hand-in-hand with OT, focuses on techniques like massages, movement trainings, and exercises to help people recover from their injuries or illnesses. PT will work closely with patients to learn more about their conditions, and it is personalized depending on the needs of each individual resident.
Speech Therapy, (ST), works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders. Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) are feeding and swallowing difficulties, which may follow an illness, surgery, stroke, or injury. For victims of stroke who no longer have a full range of communication, Smith and her team have the option to customize a “communication book” for any resident suffering from speech issues within the therapy programs. These books contain pictures and words used most frequently by the residents. The residents can show pictures from the book to other members of the staff when they need something.
Future enrichment program plans will entail bi-weekly activities of daily living, enrichment groups, and individual therapy at each facility to increase patient socialization and opportunities.
Smith and her team of rehabilitation specialists are currently growing and implementing individual and group therapeutic activities like a virtual reality corner, nerf gun target practice, gardening, outdoor exercises and activities, and ice cream socials. The residents even have the opportunity to help beautify their own community building as the needs arise.
Since Voyage LTC’s transition to moving rehabilitation in-house, it allows for our rehabilitation team to work with residents who aren’t just enrolled in therapy services. Smith says that group therapy activities will help catch any cognitive issues that any residents have that may not have been noticed before. “For instance, if we did a small cooking group, and we notice a resident struggling with their tasks, we may not have caught that before, and now we have the time to sit down and work with them one-on-one.”
To the residents, the bi-weekly activities are just another fun day at home, but for our rehabilitators, they are an opportunity to assess and improve the resident’s physical and mental well-being. “For the team and I, our big thing is play. We all have a core where we believe that you don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing. As long as we are playing all day, we have done our job.”
“Every patient is different, we win some we lose some, but it’s fun to watch them make those gains when they make them,” Smith said. “I do think that long-term care has a bad rap, but I think people don’t see what we see. We see someone’s Mother, someone’s Grandma and someone’s Dad. So being here means that we can show the surrounding community that these guys don’t just come here to sit, they have things to do. I guess, selfishly, watching them smile, gives us all we, [the team] need.”
“We will never say never with any of these guys. We will never say someone can’t walk or someone can’t talk, because they can surprise you every day." - Director of Rehabilitation, Lindsey Smith.