Archive for “EFLI” Categories

Elder’s Family Learning Initiative: Separate Perception and Reality in Long-Term Care

By Scott Selfridge, intern with Robison Jewish Health Center social services.

As a member of the baby-boomer generation I saw my parents’ transition through long-term care and the end of their lives. Like most people, I was totally unprepared for my parents’ decline. I faced so many difficult questions and I had to learn a lot in a very short period of time. For example, I learned there is short-term care, long-term care, assisted living, skilled care, independent living, foster homes, and rehabilitation care facilities. The list goes on.

Most of us have a terrible lack of knowledge on this subject and most of us have a negative perception of the industry, viewing all such organizations as “nursing homes.” My parents held such views and perceived this transition as being moved into a nursing home, no matter how nice looking that assisted-living building  was. It was a place they had always said they did not want to go, a place they perceived as a dismal and dreary institution with inadequate care and just a place to warehouse people until they die.

What I also learned through this experience was that there are great facilities, staffed by wonderful caring people, and that for the most part the nursing home of the 1950’s and 1960’s does not exist anymore. This was not a easy process for my family, and the transition was difficult, but we ultimately found an assisted-living facility that meet my parents’ needs.

This is the value of the Elder’s Family Learning Initiative: it helps to educate people about the true nature of long-term care and the choices they have, and to assist them in their journey. Through such a training program we can provide the information that many need to make informed, reasonable decisions for their loved ones and for themselves.

Does the Elder’s Family Learning Initiative resonate with you? Consider supporting it with an online donation now. Thank you for your generosity!

Elder’s Family Learning Initiative: Use Your Contact Person to Navigate Care

By Sarah Wheeler, Social Services Co-Director at Robison Jewish Health Center, Project Manager of Elder’s Family Learning Initiative

Robison Jewish Health Center frontAs a social worker at Robison Jewish Health Center, I’ve had residents’ family members come to me saying they’re having a hard time navigating the nursing home portion of long-term care. All the departments, communications, titles, and procedures are just too much. Last year, one particular family member offered some ideas about how to improve families’ ability to navigate the long-term care system. She wasn’t upset or angry, she just felt it was a lot for anyone to learn and understand everything.

I took this feedback to Robison’s then-Administrator Kimberly Fuson, who shared with me that the Elder’s Family Learning Initiative was being revived. She said the program aims to help families navigate the system of long-term care, and asked me to lead the project. Because I believe it’s important for people to understand the long-term care system they’re entering, I didn’t hesitate to take on the role of  Elder’s Family Learning Initiative Project Manager.

The program will offer a variety of tools family members, residents, and the community in general can use to navigate the elder-care system, including “A Guide to Care for an Aging Parent”, handouts, slideshows, and, most importantly, live classes, which we’ll start offering in 2012.

If there’s one thing I’d like each participant to take away from the course, it is this: identify a couple of main staff members, such as a social worker or resident care manager, who can answer your questions or concerns, and really use them.  Every aspect of long-term care will affect different people differently. Follow the example of the family member I mentioned earlier and talk to your main contact about whatever frustrates you. Don’t wait or hesitate to talk about anything that might be on your mind. If you bottle your frustration for too long, it will get worse. Long-term care is a challenging system and frustration is one of the biggest barriers for people to find satisfaction. We’re here to help you navigate the system.

Elder’s Family Learning Initiative is our effort to offer easy, manageable ways for residents and family members to understand the process of long-term elder care. I hope this training tool will be helpful to you and your family. I look forward to going out into the community to conduct classes, and learn what works and what needs improvement.

Does the Elder’s Family Learning Initiative resonate with you? Consider supporting it with an online donation now. Thank you for your generosity!

Elder’s Family Learning Initiative: Get Involved, Learn From One Another

By David Fuks, CEO

Before I had kids I thought I was a great expert on parenting. Once I became a father I discovered how much I had to learn. I had entered a path of lifelong learning that continues to be interesting and challenging even as my children have entered adulthood.

The same experience was true for me as my parents aged and experienced health problems and disabling conditions, and when they ultimately passed away. I found myself learning in a visceral way lessons that I had learned in a more intellectual way as a human services professional.

The fact is, we live in unprecedented times. Today’s generation of elders is living longer than any generation in the history of the world, and their adult children are having to make significant decisions about their health care, residency, and end of life.

As a professional working with elders, these decisions and issues were at least familiar to me. But many families are on a path they had never anticipated stepping onto. These families must learn their way around complex systems of care and develop new knowledge to assist their loved ones, to be effective members of care teams, and to become advocates for quality care.

When adult children and other family members face these issues, they’re dealing with two circumstances at once. The process of aging, disability, and decline is complex and dynamic. Family members with a loved one experiencing health problems related to a long slow decline, such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia, have a very different experience than people whose loved one has been diagnosed with aggressive terminal cancer, for example.

In addition, adult children and family caregivers are also experiencing complexity in the context of their own immediate family lives. For example, a family with young children finds itself being a member of a “sandwich generation” where the support needs of young children and aging parents must be handled simultaneously. Older adult children may be facing their own health concerns while they’re providing support to an aging parent.

These two sets of dynamics create a lot of challenges when people seek to develop the skills needed to help the people they love. The Elder’s Family Learning Initiative and its blog series is dedicated to helping family members learn about the various systems of care and service they may encounter when providing support to their elders or relatives with disability. The weekly blog series will provide an opportunity to hear from professionals with elder-care expertise and to learn about real-life service systems. It will also describe the path of aging and how family members can effectively manage related health and social issues.

Most importantly, the program will provide participants a space to interact with each other as they go through the process of learning, so that the shared wisdom and support can improve the experience for everyone.

We look forward to your involvement, feedback, and to our learning together about how to best serve the elders and people with disabilities.