Topic: Calendar

New Dodge Diabetes section opens this fall

Prevention is a critical piece of the puzzle of health and wellness.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, a local nonprofit devoted to helping its home healthcare patients and all members of the 35 communities it serves to achieve their best quality of life, believes in the importance of prevention and healthcare education.

That is why it will once again host its yearlong program, Dodge Diabetes, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15.

One in three American adults has prediabetes. Those with prediabetes are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, as many with prediabetes do within five years if they do not lose weight or increase their physical activity level. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.

People are most likely to have prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes if they are 45 years of age or older, are overweight, have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, are physically active fewer than three times per week or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

The best, controllable way to prevent diabetes is to lose weight through exercise and smart eating habits. Dodge Diabetes focuses on education in these areas to help individuals cut their risk of developing diabetes in half. Participants will learn how to make healthy food choices, add physical activity into their day, cope with stress, handle obstacles and overcome barriers to stay on track or get back on track when needed, track progress, stay motivated and set goals.

The program is based on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevent T2, a successful, evidence-based lifestyle change program. Prevent T2 is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

A total of 26 classes will be held throughout the next year on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Classes will be held virtually via Zoom with a potential for in-person meetings in the Agency’s Guilford Wellness Center once it is deemed safe to do so. For the first four months, the class meets every week, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.

“Diabetes is a potentially devastating chronic illness, but one that is preventable with the right tools and support,” said Tracy Blanford, RN, Health Promotion Supervisor at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “We are pleased to be able to provide this life-changing program to members of the community we serve. Our goal is to help individuals facing pre-diabetes to incorporate healthy changes into their lives and to maintain these changes to see positive results.”

This program is supported by grant funding from the Guilford Health Department Preventative Health & Health Services Block Grant, and the CT Department of Public Health.

The cost is $85 for the full 12-month program. For more information, call the VNACHCH Helpline at 866.474.5230. To register for the class, visit our calendar.

New volunteers complete virtual training

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice recently welcomed its four newest volunteers, and the first ever to be trained virtually. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Jo Ann Begley conducted the training via Zoom over a period of three days. Pictured from top left the volunteers include: Anna Bagley, Bryan Iozzia, Janet Moran and Judy Tewksbury. “We are fortunate to have people willing to serve our patients in any way possible despite the pandemic,” Begley said. Hospice volunteer efforts include serving as a patient companion both for the benefit of the patient and to offer a caregiver respite; providing relaxation therapies such as pet therapy, art and music therapy; offering spiritual, bereavement, administrative and vigil support. To learn more about the rewarding experience of volunteering for the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice program, contact the team at 203.458.5950.

Agency offers virtual wellness classes

The need to keep your distance doesn’t mean you need to keep off your feet.

Although the COVID-19 numbers in Connecticut are now low and continue to trend in the right direction, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice knows how important it is to maintain social distancing and to continue to wear masks for the protection of everyone, in particular those who are most vulnerable to the serious complications of this novel coronavirus.

With that in mind, the nonprofit made the difficult decision to close its Guilford Wellness Center and Hamden program room for the remainder of the calendar year. Similarly, many senior centers and other public centers where VNACHCH typically holds classes remain closed at this time.

Despite that, the agency has developed a full lineup of virtual exercise classes to help keep its participants engaged and in touch through this challenging time.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is now registering participants for several live classes via Zoom, as well as pre-recorded classes, which will begin in September.

The fall lineup includes a live Fitness and Movement Basics class and a more advanced live Functional Cardio & Fitness class – both designed to help participants reduce their risk of falls by focusing on strength, agility, balance, range of motion and coordination. They agency is also offering live Tai Ji Quan classes via Zoom. These classes, both a beginner and advanced section, are focused on posture and awareness and mindful control of body positioning.

VNACHCH also continues to run its exercise class tailored toward individuals living with Parkinson’s disease in a live format via Zoom, and the agency’s popular Parkinson’s support groups for patients and caregivers, as well as the general caregiver support group, are also ongoing via Zoom.

Pre-recorded classes include Tai Chi for Arthritis, Zumba Gold, Senior Boot Camp, and Chair Yoga for Pain Free Living. These classes are accessed via the agency’s YouTube channel once a participant has registered.

All classes carry a small fee for a 12-week series.

“COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges, but we were determined to continue to support our clients and their families as much as possible,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Marketing & Development Abigail Storiale. “We know so many of our exercise class participants depend on us to stay moving, stay fit and stay healthy and so we hope they’ll take advantage of what we’ve made possible in the virtual space. We are always available to help any person in need of wellness support via our Helpline, and we look forward to seeing our clients in person again in the future.”

To register for a class and for more information, including the day of the week and time of live classes as well as cost details, visit the Calendar.

Steady Steps program offered virtually

One step at a time seems like such a simple concept.

Despite that, slips and trips can happen to anyone so it’s important to be aware and, literally, take steps that reduce your risk of falls.

People over the age of just 55 are most prone to falls, though anyone with physical or sensory deficits, such as visual impairments or foot problems, is at risk. Also at risk are those with a chronic illness, those taking more than four prescription medications, and those who have noticed a decline in their physical mobility or changes in their balance.

Although the state has reopened and life is returning to a new period of normalcy, COVID-19 will have a persistent impact until a vaccine is available or herd immunity is achieved and it could be many months before precautions such as social distancing are not required and until the hospital system does not need to stand at the ready bracing for potentially high numbers of cases.

Older adults who fall are among the heaviest users of emergency rooms so preventing falls helps to ease the burden on healthcare providers. Older adults are also at highest risk to suffer serious effects of COVID-19 and so staying out of the hospital where the exposure risk is heightened is in their best interest.

This is an important time to focus on reducing the risk of falls, which is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has moved its award winning fall prevention program Steady Steps into the virtual space so it remains accessible despite the fact that the agency’s in-person classes and assessments are on hold for the immediate future.

The program includes a 10-session fall risk education component as well as exercise classes and demonstrations.

Falls are one of the most preventable health problems. Of our Steady Steps participants, 85 percent lowered their risk of falls, improved balance and learned how to prevent falls from occurring.

Funded by a grant from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention and Yale University School of Medicine through the Department of Aging, our Steady Steps program is based on research by experts from both.

To view links and details on the complete Virtual Steady Steps program, click here.

VNACHCH stands against racial injustice

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has for more than a century been devoted to community – not just to our own community but to the global idea of community and what can be accomplished when people align themselves with a mission to do good in the world.

It is with this backdrop that I have truly struggled to put together the right words to express my feelings of sadness and of frustration over the horrific death of George Floyd – the latest of many similar occurrences that shine a growing spotlight on systemic racism in our country.

It’s just as overwhelming to watch the peaceful protests of these events be juxtaposed with violence that is further dividing communities and causing more pain to the people striving for meaningful change in the face of a legacy of trauma.

We must do better. These injustices have been allowed to pervade our society for far too long. Racism and bias have no place in our communities and it is incumbent upon each of us to embody the opposite and to spread compassion to each other.

As a healthcare organization I also know we also cannot close our eyes to the fact that in our industry people of color are statistically disproportionately underserved and this is an area in which we can continue to fight for correction.

I know we can do more – listen more, learn more and advocate more. It is important to me as I hope it is to all of you that we come together in understanding, respect and empathy for what our black community members are feeling at this time and for the experiences and challenges they face every day.

Building a better community is up to us and it must be now.

-Janine Fay, President & CEO

Stay focused, stay safe through the duration of the outbreak

 

The most important thing we can all continue to do is to minimize our risk of exposure to COVID-19.

It’s easy to become complacent, particularly now that months have gone by and we are all perhaps becoming settled into a new routine of social distancing. Evaluate any non-essential medical appointments to determine whether or not you feel it necessary to keep them, but do have a plan for what you’ll do if you do become sick – with COVID-19 symptoms or otherwise.

Staying at home does not mean you cannot take steps to take care of yourself and the people for whom you provide care.

Research telemedicine

Look into whether or not your primary care physician or other health care providers are offering telemedicine. This is particularly important for those with chronic health conditions. If you’re starting to run low on medication and haven’t done so already, ask your doctor for a prescription for a few months worth so you have what you need as this time of social distancing continues.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is offering virtual Ask the Nurse clinics to meet with residents in the agency’s territory virtually for usual in-person one-on-one coaching. Our team of registered nurses are available to review medications, discuss health goals and help you prepare for any upcoming medical appointment.

Stay connected

Make sure you are staying in touch with friends and family through today’s technological offerings such as video chat using a smartphone or computer. Engage in a hobby at home to keep your mind sharp and your hands active during this phase.

Also ensure you have an emergency contact in the event that you become ill, and if you serve as someone’s emergency contact, have a back-up plan in place in case you begin to show symptoms and cannot provide your usual level of care to your loved one.

Have enough food and essential items on hand for ideally two weeks at a time and continue to engage in proper hand washing and cleaning practices.

It may be tempting to spend time with grandchildren or other family members in person now that the first wave of COVID-19 is slowing in Connecticut, but the elderly must remember they remain in a high-risk category. Try to schedule any family visits to be held outside, and engage in social distancing while wearing a mask as much as possible.

Have a plan

Discuss with your loved ones in advance the steps you will take if you do develop symptoms such as cough, fever or trouble breathing. If symptoms are not severe, you will likely be told to stay at home to recover. A test at a local drive-thru testing location may be prescribed by your physician to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis.

If you are told to go to the hospital, make sure to ask what steps you should take upon arrival and what to expect. Do not go to the hospital or emergency room without talking to your physician first as many hospitals are reaching capacity and, if your diagnosis has not been confirmed, you could be risking exposure to COVID-19 unnecessarily.

This is a challenging and often overwhelming time for many, but it will pass. It’s important to stay focused on your health and well-being and ask for help when its needed.

Starting the Hospice conversation

No one is ever fully prepared to have a conversation about death. It’s sad and difficult for loved ones of a person reaching the end-of-life as well as for that person’s physician who has been focused on helping that person recover or improve.

No one wants to hear, “There is nothing more that can be done,” and with hospice as an option that statement is never true. A cure might not be possible, but it’s important each individual faced with that reality know that there is still more life ahead.

The best thing for the people we love is for them to have the best quality of life possible, for as long as possible – and when a cure is no longer possible, hospice is available to offer care and support.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we offer symptom management while also supporting the social and spiritual needs of people helping them to live their best possible lives in the time remaining.

The best way to broach the topic of hospice with a loved one is to put all the cards on the table and have an honest discussion about the person’s prognosis and the complications of their current condition, such as frequent ER visits and hospital stays, side effects of their illness or treatment such as infections, pain and shortness of breath, and the overall stress and fear they are feeling.

It’s important for a person considering hospice care to know what their options are and that they will not be alone. Focus on the following points:

  • There is not a cure for your condition, so let’s focus on the things we can control and that includes
    making sure you make the most of the time you have left
  • The hospice team will help you to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible for as
    long as possible so you can have the best possible quality of life
  • Because of hospice, you’ll have better control of your symptoms and be able to stay at home with us
  • Your doctor is still part of the team and we can reach out if we need him/her
  • You aren’t going to live as long as we all want, but we’ll be able to enjoy the time we have with you

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is happy to sit down with families and help them have this conversation or have it with their loved ones for them. No one should walk the end of life journey along, and we are proud to be here to support patients and their loved ones every step of the way.

For more information call 866.474.5230 or visit our Hospice page.

Keep Moving Forward

 

Tips for those living with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers

 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be frightening, but understanding what you can do to be proactive with your health will make a big difference.

April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a good time to acknowledge that Parkinson’s impacts each person differently and cases of progression vary, but no matter your situation, there are important lifestyle choices that can help you manage symptoms and help you attain maximum quality of life.

“We hear a lot of patients say, ‘I don’t need therapy yet’, or ‘I’m not ready for that class yet’, but the reality is you shouldn’t wait to get worse to focus on getting better. Although there is no cure, improvement is possible and you can delay the progression,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “We can be here from the start to help you keep moving so you can achieve a high degree of wellness throughout the stages of Parkinson’s disease.”

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has a proven track record of success treating patients with Parkinson’s disease. The non-profit agency’s homecare program offers research-based exercise developed specifically for those with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. It is effective for all stages, from early onset to later stages.

The agency also offers twice weekly exercise classes with a nominal $6 fee to attend and a free weekly dance class tailored to Parkinson’s patients. Fall risk assessments are also available. Balance issues caused by Parkinson’s puts patients at an increased risk for falls, so an assessment can be a critical component of the effort to keep you safe at home. Free support groups for those living with the disease and their caregivers are held monthly and VNACHCH staff members are always available to offer suggestions to those looking to live their best life despite their diagnosis.

To read more about the VNACHCH Parkinson’s programs, click here.

Keep moving

Regular exercise and stretching is important to help those living with Parkinson’s increase flexibility, attain better balance, improve coordination and add muscle strength. Tai Chi, walking, dancing and stretching are all important ways movement can be incorporated into one’s daily routine. Group classes can provide support and guidance along with a team mentality which helps to lessen anxiety and depression.

Eat, sleep and be well

Proper sleep and nutrition are critical to achieving the best level of wellness for anyone. Those with Parkinson’s may struggle to get the most restful sleep, but sticking to a bedtime schedule and an exercise routine can help. Keep daytime naps brief, avoid caffeine, get plenty of natural light during the day and keep screens out of the bedroom and pets off your bed. The most comfortable environment will lead to the most restful sleep.

Make sure you plan meals around incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains into our diet while limiting fats, sugar, sodium and alcohol. Stay hydrated and get plenty of calcium, vitamin K and vitamin D to ward off bone density loss and other Parkinson’s symptoms.

Look for support, care for your caregivers

Attending a support group can help those with a Parkinson’s disease to feel camaraderie rather than loneliness that often comes with any medical diagnosis. It’s also important to have strong caregivers in your corner.

That being said, caregivers can only provide the support you need if they also make sure to care for themselves. Encourage your loved ones to attend a caregiver support group and take occasional time for themselves.

Help to educate them about your disease and be open about your frustrations coping with symptoms, your limitations that mean you will require help and what things you’d like to try doing on your own. Have as many open and honest communications as possible about your wishes while you are in early stages of Parkinson’s, and provide clear direction about how you want to be treated and have your affairs handled after the onset of later stages.

Your support team should also include therapists who can help manage symptoms and even improve your condition.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice clinicians certified in LSVT BIG and LSVT LOUD deliver physical, occupational and speech therapy in intense and complex standardized treatment sessions with repetitions of core movements used in daily living. Clinicians conduct 16 sessions per month with patients as part of this research-based treatment that leads to documented gains in motor functioning, trunk rotation, balance and quality of life, as well as long term improvements in speech and voice quality.

LIFETIME Care at Home earns Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award

LIFETIME Care at Home, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, is once again a recipient of the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award.

This award – the most prestigious award in the home care industry – is given annually only to providers who achieved top client and caregiver satisfaction scores in Home Care Pulse rankings and those who earned both the Provider of Choice and Employer of Choice distinctions.

Home Care Pulse is the home care industry’s leading firm in satisfaction research and quality assurance.

A minimum of 10 percent of a provider’s client base must be interviewed monthly and providers must rank in the 50th percentile in two or more caregiver satisfaction categories in the region to earn the Provider and Employer of Choice distinctions.

In addition to those honors, Leader in Excellence award winners must score in the 90th percentile in at least 10 out of 14 combined client and caregiver satisfaction categories. LIFETIME Care at Home scored in the 90th percentile in 13 out of 14 categories.

This data is collected by monthly telephone surveys to rate performance of providers as compared to others in each region and on a national level. Providers must also complete a minimum of two client and two caregiver satisfaction interviews per month during the previous year.

“The title of Leader in Excellence is only give to the select providers who have set a high standard of care and who have achieved top scores,” Home Care Pulse CEO Erik Madsen wrote in a letter notifying LIFETIME Care at Home of its honor. “Your agency has ranked among these few providers, and has proved itself to be among the best in the nation.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is a private in-home, nonmedical care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through daily challenges of living more confidently. It is one of only six providers in the state of Connecticut to earn the Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award and one of only two such providers outside of Fairfield county.

It is among only 180 providers in the nation to be given the Leader in Excellence Award, and among 794 Providers of Choice and 508 Employers of Choice nationwide.

“We are honored to be recognized for the second consecutive year as a Leader in Excellence Award winner by Home Care Pulse and the Best of Home Care awards,” said LIFETIME Care at Home Executive Director Guy Tommasi. “We appreciate the trust our clients and caregivers place in us each day and we will continue our efforts to provide the most exceptional service clients can hope for when they allow our staff to come into their home.”

LIFETIME Care at Home is an important part of the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice continuum of care, integrated as part of a larger team to help address home care needs quicker and more completely than other alternatives.

LIFETIME Care at Home staff provide insight into care solutions and create more stable living situations for the clients the agency serves.

To learn more, visit lifetimecareathome.com.

VNACHCH releases annual report

This year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice sought to paint a true picture of the value of its services with the agency’s annual report.

In partnership with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme, the home healthcare agency depicted patient and staff testimonials through works of art. Inspired by the quote, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art,” VNACHCH asked a few of its clients, caregivers and staff members to select artwork from the museum collection that spoke to them about living well – the very thing VNACHCH endeavors to make possible for all individuals it serves.

Ann Freeman, whose husband, Michael, was a VNACHCH Hospice patient in the last year, chose a painting of the Maine coastline that spoke to her about the years she and her husband spent visiting Maine and other oceanside locations together.

VNACHCH nurse Patty Tsou chose a painting that reminded her of Ireland and evoked the feeling of a “hopeful start to a new day” for her, stirring in her a feeling of connection to her mother, who also was a nurse.

Images of those who provided testimonials posing among the museum’s artwork fill the pages of the annual report, which also tells the story of an agency holding steady in winds of fiscal struggle prompted by state budget cuts and a changing healthcare landscape. The report outlines the agency goals for the future, it’s focus on excellence in patient care, and the many ways donor support is needed and appreciated.

“We are proud of our continued commitment to our mission to help patients live their best lives, and would like to express sincere gratitude to the Florence Griswold Museum and its staff for their willingness to share the beauty of art with us so we can share the beauty of our own stories with the community,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay.

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR2018_WEB.

To learn more about ways to give to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, click here.