We too often take it for granted. We get up in the morning and have breakfast of our choice, followed later by a midday lunch and capped in the early evening by dinner, sometimes with a cocktail. Unless we’re hosting a dinner party or a weekend BBQ we tend not to apply too much conscious thought to the daily process of eating. (Foodie’s excepted of course!)
This lack of conscious thought can be dangerous because it leads our subconscious to make a lot of assumptions. When we go out to eat at various restaurants we assume our food is of high quality and not riddled with potentially deadly food bacteria. We assume when we purchase food at the market that it is free of bacteria and viruses that cause food borne illnesses. But of late, it seems like we are hearing more and more about food safety issues with recalls due to salmonella, e-coli and other bacteria.
In my position I am very cognizant of the fact that the elderly are much more susceptible to food borne illness than the general population, mostly because of compromised immune systems. Our industry is heavily regulated and one of the main areas of regulation is food safety. All of our staff are trained in basic food safety. Our kitchens are inspected frequently by City and State Environmental Health agencies. Proudly, in our five years of operations, we have not received any violations regarding kitchen/food safety at either of our locations. This is a tremendous accomplishment given the frequency and depth of our kitchen inspections. It is also yet another testament to the amazing job the staff at both locations are doing.
Knowing how susceptible our residents are to food borne illness, we pay particular attention to our kitchen practices. While not required to do so, we took an extra step and sent our chef and kitchen personnel to the nationally recognized ServeSafe Program for Managers and Food Handlers. ServeSafe is a well known and respected National Restaurant Association program.
Our staff are trained on:
Also many congratulations to Margaret for passing the ServeSafe Food Handler certification program last year!
As you can see from the photo’s Chef Therese’s magnificent culinary concoctions are not only absolutely delicious, but prepared in full compliance with industry established food safety practices. Well done Chef Therese, Carol and Margaret for doing A Love For Life™ so proud!
We recently lost a wonderful resident. It was an emotionally draining experience and yet another reminder about the terrific care our staff provide under very challenging circumstances. Dealing with dementia afflicted individuals can be very difficult but even tougher is the hospice care we provide through to the final end.
So a little about hospice…
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care website (2016), the term "hospice" (from the same linguistic root as "hospitality") can be traced back to medieval times when it referred to a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers on a long journey. The name was first applied to specialized care for dying patients by physician Dame Cicely Saunders, who began her work with the terminally ill in 1948 and eventually went on to create the first modern hospice—St. Christopher’s Hospice—in a residential suburb of London.
Saunders introduced the idea of specialized care for the dying to the United States during a 1963 visit with Yale University. Her lecture, given to medical students, nurses, social workers, and chaplains about the concept of holistic hospice care, included photos of terminally ill cancer patients and their families, showing the dramatic differences before and after the symptom control care. This lecture launched the following chain of events, which resulted in the development of hospice care as we know it today.
In 1986 the Medicare Hospice Benefit was made permanent by the U.S. Congress.
The focus in on caring, not curing. Hospice utilizes an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals and trained volunteers that address symptom control, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. In America, hospice care is provided to 1.65 million patients and their families, each year (and growing).
All Americans deserve quality care at the end of life – it’s a fundamental part of living.
While caring for those on hospice is not for everyone, especially during the last weeks and days, those who do it are very special individuals. At A Love For Life™, the staff are compassionate and dedicated. The care during the last phase of life can be very intense. The goal of all hospice providers is comfort. Comfort care can encompass the smallest of things such as lubricating ones lips frequently, to providing sips of water when drinking and eating are no longer possible. Great skin care means keeping individuals clean and dry. Pain management is one of the most important measures we take during this phase. Providing emotional support for families is also a part of the process.
Imagine the emotional toll it takes on caregivers. For example when we sit and hold hands of a dying person because family were unable to arrive in time. Or the times when we tearfully try to ease the pain of someone, or when we play the dying persons favorite music. Particularly difficult is putting our own emotions aside to support family members because we have cared for these folks for many years. They are our "family" too.
Our most recent passing was the epitome of staff devotion to our hospice residents during the last days.
She was alone because family did not arrive in time. I sat with her and held her hand. Sor talked to her and told her it was time to "let go and go to the light". It’s OK, Sor said. "It’s time. The angels are waiting. It’s going to be beautiful." Sor began to sing the most beautiful song in her most beautiful voice…in 10 minutes, our sweetheart was gone.
Yes, it takes very special individuals to ease the passage of the dying on their final journey and I am extremely blessed to have them working with me at A Love For Life™
The past several months have been peppered with change. As I mentioned before and as a result of the new home, we have hired a number of new staff, taken on many, many new residents, have been through hours and hours of training, transitioned to new processes and new equipment, and have just plain experienced a significant amount of change.
Our more experienced tenured staff are training new, less experienced staff. Staff are rotating between both homes to allow for “bench strength” all the while caring for more new residents and meeting new families.
During this time we’ve experienced deaths of our beloved residents adding even more strain and stress on the staff. They have been through thick and thin. No; they are not complaining.
Courageously and compassionately, they continue marching to the beat of our mission…kind, compassionate, and professional care.
Unfortunately, yet very typically, in the past few months we have had several falls. We’ve had head lacerations, we’ve had high blood pressure issues, low blood pressure issues, high and low blood sugar issues, more falls, more lacerations, urinary tract infections, and on and on.
It is easy to underestimate the seriousness of the situations that are encountered in a business of this type. It takes a certain type of individual to be able to withstand the physical, emotional, and often heartbreaking situations we find ourselves in.
The staff at A Love For Life™ are true angels of mercy. They stop the bleeding; they lift the fallen, they comfort the dying, and they wipe the tears.
There is no one that has a greater amount of respect for my staff and their profession, than me.
Thank you to my amazing staff!