Healthy Living in the North

A picture-perfect partnership: Prince George photographer donates photographs to reconnect long-term care residents with their community

Two female Gateway Lodge residents in motorized wheelchairs are in a hallway. They are admiring a picture hanging on the wall. The picture has a rusted bridge in the foreground and a river, trees, and sky in the background.

Gateway Lodge residents Ilse and Diana can admire photographs of places they know thanks to a partnership with local photographer Anna Michele McCue. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Lynn AuCoin hopes the pictures hanging in Gateway Lodge bring more than words – even a thousand of them. She hopes each image helps residents reconnect with their community.

“We’ve been trying to make our facilities more home-like,” says Lynn, the Recreation Therapist Supervisor for Gateway Lodge’s complex care and Rainbow Lodge in Prince George. “Our residents enter a new stage in their lives. Suddenly, they’re getting regular care and help in a new place. We want to see our hallways filled with things that residents can relate to and talk about. Whether that’s milking the cow, riding the tractor, or enjoying the sunset or local places.”

In a beige hallway, a picture of a long haired, black and brown dachshund in a wagon hangs above a chair.

This image of a dog in a wagon is a favourite among Gateway Lodge residents. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

Lynn is a member of a Prince George Facebook group that shares good news and local photography. In February 2019, she was scrolling through it and several stunning photos caught her eye. Lynn noticed they were all by a photographer named Anna Michele McCue, who goes by Michele. Lynn reached out to Michele right away.

“We didn’t have a big budget for this, so I was hoping we could work something out,” says Lynn. “Michele got back to me right away. She loved the idea of connecting residents with their communities. She offered her pictures at no cost!”

Thanks to Michele’s generosity, nine pictures are now hanging throughout Gateway Lodge.

A picture of a Prince George street in the fall hangs on a wall. The street is centred and continues for several blocks. It is covered in yellow leaves. On either side of the street there are tall trees with yellow leaves that have yet to fall, and houses.

Another example of a picture by Anna Michele McCue that is hanging in Gateway Lodge. Photo courtesy of Anna Michele McCue.

“I’m so pleased that my photography is bringing joy to people,” says Michele. “Seniors, who have contributed so much, are an important part of our community. It means the world to help remind them of how they lived, what they accomplished, and what they enjoyed.”

Michele isn’t the only one who’s pleased. These trips down memory lane are getting rave reviews from Gateway residents as well.

“They add beauty and colour to our empty walls,” says Margaret, a resident of Gateway Lodge. “We all enjoy finding out the location of where a photo was taken.”

Lynn notes that other Northern Health long-term care facilities may see local photography on their walls in the future.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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Advance Care Planning in Long Term Care

Patti sitting on a boulder amongst rocks.

ACP Lead Patti reminds us to have a conversation about end of life care with our loved ones.

I started working with Advance Care Planning (ACP) about a year and a half ago. While my position includes promoting ACP, I’m also a nurse consultant with the palliative care team, which means I meet with clients who reside in Long Term Care (LTC) facilities.

When I did my Registered Nurse (RN) training many years ago, I did a portion of my practicum in a LTC facility; at the time it was seen by my classmates as a position that lacked excitement and offered limited experience. Twenty-seven years later, I see this experience differently! LTC is an area where there is more of a focus on comfort and normalcy within the resident’s care, because this is likely the last home they will reside in. In these kinds of situations, we must consider the individual’s needs and wants within the care that they receive, including cultural-based values and beliefs. As such, it’s even more important that there’s a focus on the individual, and whether they have thought about what’s important to them regarding their wishes for end-of-life care.

The last year in this position has led me to further see and understand the importance of ACP in LTC facilities, including: discussions that need to happen amongst family members; awareness regarding what the future looks like for the resident; and situations and circumstances that need to be explained. Not having these conversations may lead to misunderstandings and the failure to follow the dying person’s wishes.

As health care staff, we have to ensure that there are open lines of communication with the family members and loved ones, as well as the residents. As a family member, we need to be proactive, involved, and not afraid to ask questions, in order to be informed. ACP needs to be an ongoing process to keep everyone from questioning care choices. Sometimes the residents are at a stage where they can no longer have these conversations, or they may not have loved ones who are involved, and these topics don’t always get discussed. This makes it even more important to have these conversations with our patients before it’s too late, at a time when they are still able to express their wishes.

The extended length of stay creates relationships and bonds between staff and the residents, often closer ones than exist in regular hospital wards. So, sometimes it can be difficult for the staff to experience the decline in the residents and the care involved, and even harder if there is no ACP in place.

Advance Care Planning day was April 16, but ACP should be encouraged every day whether it’s with a loved one or a patient. Find out what’s important to them and get them thinking about what their beliefs and values are, and what would matter most to them at end-of-life. Let’s all work at promoting ACP and make an effort to have those conversations. For more information on ACP visit www.speakup.ca and www.advancecareplanning.ca.

Patti Doering

About Patti Doering

Patti was raised in Prince George and graduated from the CNC Nursing Program in 1991. She has been employed with Northern Health for 26 years and has worked in many different areas such as Med/Surg, Emergency, Mental Health and the Operating Room. Patti joined the Palliative Care Consultation team in October 2017, in a one year term position which is focusing on personal support worker palliative care education, advanced care planning, and other projects which support the work of the consultation team. Patti is presently working on her BScN through the UNBC’s online program. In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, sports, and spending time with her daughters and her schnauzer, Dexter.

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“DementiAbility” approach helps make Terraceview Lodge feel like home

Activity bins for people with dementia at the Terraceview Lodge in Terrace.

Some activities for people with dementia at the Terraceview Lodge in Terrace. As a part of the DementiAbility initiative, these activities are designed to focus on maximizing abilities, instead of focusing on disabilities.

How do you define “home”? One definition was suggested by Northern Health Occupational Therapist Cheryl Block: “It’s the place where you make a genuine contribution, where you’re a part of what’s going on. That’s what feels like home.”

Cheryl, who works in Terraceview Lodge, is helping implement the DementiAbility initiative, which she says has been positively received by residents and their families.

DementiAbility, which is based on the Montessori educational philosophy, is an approach to caring for people with dementia that focuses on maximizing abilities instead of focusing on disabilities.

“We really work to prepare the environment so people can be successful,” says Cheryl. An example is using signage on walls to tell residents how to find the dining room or the activity room. “This can really decrease anxiety and help people feel, ‘Hey, I can be independent, I know where I’m going’,” says Cheryl.

A senior sorting silverware at Terraceview Lodge.

Sorting silverware is an example of an activity available at Terraceview Lodge that gives residents the chance to carry out day-to-day activities to help care for their home. Other examples include arranging flowers, folding socks, reading books, and trying on jewelry.

Another aspect of the DementiAbility approach is giving residents the chance to carry out day-to-day activities to help care for their home, Terraceview Lodge.

“We already have some residents who love to fold the aprons we use at mealtimes, and others who tend our plants,” says Cheryl.  “You can ask them, ‘I have this load of laundry that needs folding, would you be willing to help me?’ – and someone who isn’t interested in a more formal workout can still get some of the same range of motion and strength benefits — and also with a sense of purpose.”

Cheryl has challenged other departments at Terraceview to come up with activities they could involve residents in on a regular basis. “It’s been really neat, the response we’ve got from the residents — the smiles that we get — it’s that sense of purpose and that sense of belonging,” she says.

Another type of activity that has been a success at Terraceview Lodge is reading groups, where residents take turns reading a large-print book aimed at their age group page by page.

“I have to say, this is something that gives me goosebumps,” says Cheryl. “We’ve seen residents who are generally nonverbal and don’t interact with others come to these reading groups, read everything clearly and concisely and then participate in discussion group. It’s really neat to see how allowing residents to use the abilities that they have, can brighten their day and the day of anyone who interacts with them.”

Cheryl notes that it’s been a team effort to make DementiAbility a success at Terraceview Lodge. “The team has come together to make this a success,” she says, “all the way from Quality Improvement at the regional level supporting us; Brad, the manager here, has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic; and all the departments, from Maintenance to Dietary, Housekeeping, and Nursing. Everyone is really wanting to be part of something that’s good for the residents — it’s ultimately all about the residents and what’s best for them.”

With the help of Northern Health’s Quality Improvement department, Block is working on spreading the DementiAbility approach throughout Terraceview Lodge. “It’s exciting to see where this will go,” she says.

Anne Scott

About Anne Scott

Anne is a communications officer at Northern Health; she lives in Prince George with her husband Andrew Watkinson. Her current health goals are to do a pull-up and more than one consecutive “real” push-up. She also dreams of becoming a master’s level competitive sprinter and finding a publisher for her children’s book on colourblindness. Anne enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, sugar-free chocolate, and napping -- sometimes all on the same day!

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Fire infographic

A dramatic infographic presents Northern Health’s response to the 2017 wildfires. Greg Marr, NH’s Regional Director, Medical Affairs, and Jason Jaswal, Prince George Director of Long Term Care and Support Services, presented it at the BC Health Care Leaders Conference in Vancouver.

infographic showing statistics during 2017 wildfires

Sincere thanks to everyone involved in supporting the northern wildfire response both this year and last year, including NH Emergency Management and all NH staff members and physicians, and thank you to Jason and Greg for highlighting these details!

Greg and Jason side by side in suits.

Greg Marr (L), NH’s Regional Director, Medical Affairs, and Jason Jaswal, Prince George Director of Long Term Care and Support Services, at the BC Health Care Leaders Conference in Vancouver.

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