“This brings us back to why we’re here. We’re here to take care of our residents,” Jackie Murillo said of the new “Walking To The Beat” program that began April 26. Ms Murillo is the director of nursing at Masonicare at Newtown.
The employee/resident cooperative program is intended to encourage those residents who are able, to add to the number of steps they walk every day, and to provide them with additional social interaction, said Ms Murillo. “It’s about developing relationships,” she said.
Nearly two dozen clinical and nonclinical staff members at the Toddy Hill skilled nursing facility have “adopted” a resident, and the pairs spend at least 15 minutes each day, Monday through Friday, involved in walking activities, or simply visiting, going for a cup of coffee, taking advantage of hand massage services, or enjoying pleasant weather outside.
Only the clinical staff takes part in physically getting residents up and walking, said Masonicare at Newtown administrator John Sweeney. “But this is a program even for those who are wheelchair bound,” he said. Nonclinical staff, such as housekeepers, secretaries, and office staff, is not responsible for “ambulating” residents, but are happy to take their charges outdoors or sit in the parlor and visit over a cup of tea.
The program gives staff that normally would not have the opportunity to do so, to bond with the residents, Mr Sweeney said. “It’s not like the employees are strangers to our residents, either. Masonicare at Newtown has a homelike setting, with a lot of interaction, and there was already a relationship here,” he said. Walking To The Beat simply builds on those relationships.
Ms Murillo and administrators selected the residents they felt could benefit the most from the new program, and then employees selected residents with whom they felt they could build a friendship. So far, it has worked out, with everyone pleased with his or her new partners, said Ms Murillo.
Maureen Jennings is assistant director of nursing, and said that the residents are very happy to have the extra attention. “The residents love seeing the extra staff, and staff morale has increased,” Ms Jennings said.
“They like the one-on-one,” agreed Ms Murillo. “The actually wait for that special someone to come and take them outside or walk with them,” she said.
Staff members and residents alike know when the magic hour appears. Upbeat music plays over the intercom, “And everyone gets excited,” Ms Murillo said.
“This is above and beyond the regular daily care that our residents receive. It’s an added touch to have this personalization,” emphasized Mr Sweeney.
“I love [the program],” said Dee Wagner, a resident at Masonicare at Newtown. Carol Baccari, a registered nurse at the facility, is her new friend. “She takes me for walks and we chat. We multitask,” Ms Wagner joked, “chatting and walking at the same time. It’s a wonderful program.”
“Inside or outside, we walk each day,” Ms Baccari said. “Dee does incredibly well.”
Residents Sperios Ballas and Annabelle Lyle share the attentions of Barb Summo, who is a secretary at Masonicare in the rehabilitation department.
“We visit and read together, sometimes go for manicures,” said Ms Summo, although Mr Ballas raised his eyebrows at the mention of the last activity.
“It’s a very good program,” Mr Ballas said, and Ms Lyle was mostly in agreement.
“I think they’re working on it, and it’s working out well,” she said.
Ms Murillo said that initially the nonclinical employees were hesitant to sign up, fearing that they would be in charge of ambulating their new friends. “But only our clinical employees do that,” Ms Murillo said, and employees enthusiastically took part when they understood their responsibilities. “That’s really the only thing we’ve had to work out, so far,” she said.
“We want our residents to walk the longer walk. If we keep them walking, hopefully it will protect their health,” Mr Sweeney said.
“We wanted to be different and mostly,” Ms Murillo said, “and we want to be the best we can be for our residents.”