Rainycrest talks recent improvements

Ken Kellar

It was a night for fun and food, but those attending the Alzheimer Society’s “Forget Me Not” dinner on Saturday night also had the opportunity to learn about some of the changes that have come to Rainycrest over the past while.

Rainycrest’s Director of Care Tara Morelli was the invited guest speaker at the dinner, and she took to the stage to talk about some of the novel ideas and programs that have come to the long-term care home in the past year, as well as their partnership with the Alzheimer Society, particularly since the home was reopened to patient admissions in March 2019, following a more than year-long freeze by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

“It’s been a year of growth and improvement for Rainycrest,” Morelli told the crowd.

“We are proud of our accomplishments and the path of rebuilding a home for quality resident family centre care. We have recently re-engaged with the Alzheimer Society to really focus on support to those diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease or other related dementias as well as their families. After being closed to admissions for a year we really wanted to make improvements that impacted the quality of care that we provide residents and families at Rainycrest.”

Morelli noted that the facility has undergone renovations and improvements on several levels, including with a redone dining room that includes wheelchair accessible tables and chairs, as well as fresh coats of paint in bright, soothing colours throughout the building.

“Our next project is to renovate our activation area, and looking for new ways to provide activities and entertainment to residents in the home, Morelli said.

“We have an amazing group of staff, from nursing to housekeeping and everyone in between, that take great pride in caring for the members of our community.”

Moving out of a long-time home into a place like Rainycrest can be difficult, which Morelli acknowledged as she described some of the improvements that have been made to the transition process into the facility, which include welcome packages for each new resident, provided by the Rainycrest Ladies Auxiliary, tours for those who are considering becoming residents or placing their family members into care, opening up the room to move in items of sentimental value ahead of the new resident’s first day in order to create a more familiar and welcoming space, as well as a newly revised handbook containing all the necessary information for moving in.

“We have professional registered nurses who spend dedicated time with each new resident and family and develop plans of care that are specific to their needs,” Morelli added.

“[And] we have meal tickets that we offer families to enjoy a meal with their loved ones on day of admission.”

The facility also uses a form entitled “Getting to Know Me,” which invites the new resident or their families to fill out information in order to help staff get a better understanding of who they are as a person.”It helps staff better support and connect with the person as they are transitioning into our home, which is now theirs,” Morelli said.

“Information on the Getting to Know Me forms that is really important is personality, likes and dislikes, favourite activities of the individual, maybe daily routines, interests and life histories. These all play important parts in transitioning someone into a new home.”

In addition to looking at ways to make entry into Rainycrest as smooth as possible, a great deal of focus has also been placed on continuing to educate staff around Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. That includes a partnership with Mary O’Connor, the Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River’s client services co-ordinator for Fort Frances.

“We’re looking forward to the upcoming year of providing supports to the families, residents and staff,” Morelli said.

“The Alzheimer Society is providing excellent [resources] on ambiguous loss and grief, a resource for healthcare providers, which we’ll share on our on-site orientation for new healthcare providers; registered nurses, registered Practical nurses, health care aides and support workers, as well as having it available for our current employees, because you can never stop learning. Our goal is to educate staff to better serve and connect with residents and families.”

In addition, O’Connor will also provide dementia-specific educational huddles for staff, which will cover different topics and techniques around working with people living with dementia.

Morelli also noted the facility is in the process of having staff undergo Gentle Persuasive Approach (GPA) training. The GPA training helps participants to fully understand responsive behaviours associated with dementia processes and to respond effectively and appropriately in a workplace setting.

“Rainycrest is grateful for the current supports the Alzheimer Society has within the home,” Morelli concluded.

“We’re eager to embark on our future partnership to not only support residents and families but also to educate the healthcare providers in truly providing person-centred care to our residents with dementia and their families. The greatness of a community is discovered through teamwork and collaboration, and we’re very proud to be part of this community.”