A Big Step Forward
By Ann Wyatt, Manager of Palliative & Residential Care
As we have discussed in past issues, since 2012, CaringKind has been working with three New York City nursing homes (Cobble Hill Health Center in Brooklyn and Isabella Geriatric Center and The New Jewish Home in Manhattan) to implement a model of palliative care developed by the Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, Arizona, for people with dementia. This comfort-focused approach which Beatitudes developed is known as Comfort Matters®, and now includes an official designation process for those homes that meet its standards for high-quality dementia care.
CaringKind and our three partner nursing homes met with staff from Coler Hospital and other H+H homes to share our successes in improving the quality of care for people with dementia.
We are enormously proud to report that this past November, all three of our nursing home partners have achieved accreditation for their pilot project dementia units, in addition to a second unit at Isabella and a third unit scheduled for an accreditation visit in March. CaringKind staff participated in the accreditation visits by Comfort Matters and can confirm that what we observed, and what we heard from interviews with all levels of staff and with families, is everything we hoped for; these units are truly transformed.
As part of our work with these three homes, we recently published Palliative Care for People with Dementia: Why Comfort Matters in Long-Term Care (available for free download here), which describes how the homes went about implementing this approach. Copies of this publication have been sent to every nursing home in New York State, and have also been shared with nursing homes, organizations, and individuals all across the country.
We are also pleased to share that other homes in the New York metropolitan area have expressed interest in this approach as well, including NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler on Roosevelt Island. Coler has been working on its own to implement some of the Comfort Matters practices, and in December it invited staff from our three homes to share their experiences at a conference. A dozen staff from Cobble Hill, Isabella, and The New Jewish Home participated, and staff and a family member from Coler presented as well. Among the nearly 100 attendees were representatives from other H+H homes (Susan Smith McKinney, Gouverneur Health and Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility). Below are photos from the Coler conference.
It has been an enormous privilege to help in bringing this truly excellent model of care to New York, and we are deeply grateful to our funders, who not only provided their support, but have also been as excited and moved by this work as we are: the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Inc.; The Mayday Fund; The Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation; PARC Foundation; United Hospital Fund; The John A. Hartford Foundation; and additional funding from the Altman Foundation to support a related capacity-building component. Additional contributions came from 1199 SEIU Training & Employment Fund & The Greater New York Education Fund; Caccappolo Family Fund; Daniel and Nancy Finke; Matthew Furman and Judy Hecker Furman; Benjamin Jenkins; Sharon Kilmer; and CaringKind and its Junior Committee have also allocated funds to this project.
In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing what we have learned with other homes throughout the area, as well as with the families and friends of people with advanced dementia, so that this approach is adopted far more widely. We have provided educational sessions here at CaringKind, and have done presentations at a number of conferences, including one for the NYC Nursing Home Ombudsman Program.