Doak Walker recognized

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The Colorado Foundation for Medical Care recently named the Doak Walker Care Center a "success story" for its work in improving the quality of life for its residents, most of whom are elderly and need longterm, 24-hour care.

The center is among 32 skilled nursing facilities in the state working with CFMC to enhance systems of care for pain management, pressure ulcers and infections. The center was one of six centers -- out of 221 nursing homes in the state -- to receive the recognition.

"We're just delighted," nurse manager Lee Dickey said. "It's nice to be recognized for work that has gone on here for years."

The Doak Walker Care Center's work is part of the Nursing Home Quality Initiative, a national program launched in 2002 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

CFMC, which collaborates with the Medicare and Medicaid programs, provided training and resources to facilities and regularly checked on their progress.

On their first visit to Doak Walker Care Center, CFMC officials were pleased with what the facility already was doing in the areas of pain management, pressure ulcers and infections. CFMC's support helped the center make those systems of care more comprehensive, Dickey said.

The center developed various scales measuring patients' pain, including a scale involving a series of observation's that helps staff understand the pain experienced by patients who have difficulty communicating, nurse manager Sue Heiner said.

"Any of the ideas they gave us helped us improve," she said. "We were doing a good job, but they helped us fine-tune things."

Although the Doak Walker Care Center hasn't had a patient develop pressure ulcers, which occur when patients remain in one position for too long, CFMC helped the center implement a structure for treating wounds on patients arriving from other facilities, Dickey said.

Pressure ulcers, which often occur on tailbones, elbows, shoulder blades and heels, can take months to heal and require different types of dressings, she said.

CFMC also supports other projects at the center, including efforts to achieve "culture change," a new model emphasizing a more personal, social approach to patient care.

Culture change aims to eliminate residents' loneliness, boredom and helplessness by providing spontaneous activities, social interactions with staff and opportunities for patients to be caregivers.

A resident dog, aviary, summer garden, houseplants and Special Friends program -- which pairs residents with children in the GrandKids Child Care Center -- are aspects of culture change already in place at Doak Walker Care Center.

"Our relationships with residents becomes deeper and more meaningful. ... We are really excited about it. If feels so right," Dickey said.

The center is completing an application to register with Eden Alternative, an organization promoting culture change in skilled nursing facilities. When staff completes the lengthy application process, they will receive a visit from organization officials, who will observe the center.

If accepted, Doak Walker Care Center would be only the second Eden Alternative facility in Colorado, Dickey said.

"We're talking about committing to a very profound change in how we do long-term care," she said.

In the meantime, staff members are enjoying CFMC's recognition for their work as they continue to pursue goals within the Nursing Home Quality Initiative.

"A lot of people work very, very hard here," she said.


-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204

or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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