Topic: News And Events

Getting physical

Tips to overcome everyday aches and pains

The main goal of the wellness programming at VNA Community Healthcare
& Hospice is to keep you moving, but pain can sometimes get in the way. Estimates from the International Association for the Study of Pain suggest that one in five adults across the globe suffer from pain.

“Even those living healthy, active lifestyles can suffer from mild to moderate aches and pains that can impact daily life,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Therapy Kelli Filosa. “Pain also doesn’t discriminate. Although many find they struggle with it as part of the aging process, younger individuals can also face challenges.”

Pain can affect anyone, even people who have not been in an accident or suffered an injury while playing a sport or performing another physical activity. For example, lower back pain, which can be caused by sitting at a desk for long stretches of time, is the most common type of chronic pain in the United States. Such pain may be unavoidable, but that does not mean it and other types of everyday aches and pains cannot be overcome.

Begin a well-rounded exercise regimen

Regular exercise that includes both strength training and cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow and helps build a strong core.

A strong core supports the spine and reduces the pressure on it, making it less likely people who sit for long stretches at a time will end their days with lower back pain. Routine exercise also helps other areas of the body by keeping muscles loose and flexible. Before beginning a new exercise regimen, men and women, especially those with existing aches and pains, should consult their physicians about which exercises they should do and which they might want to avoid.

“Our home healthcare physical therapy clients most often require our services after a fall, injury or joint replacement, though they can also be beneficial if you have an ongoing medical condition that has gotten worse – such as chronic heart failure, breathing problems or diabetes,” Filosa explained. “We can also help those dealing with weakness or poor balance after a stroke or other medical event.”

She added, “Because we help those dealing with such a wide range of physical therapy needs, we are experts in exercise programs and even home modifications that can help you live safely and prevent an injury before one occurs.”

Filosa recommends walking as a tried and true method of cardiovascular exercise, as well as low impact classes such as the Yoga, Tai Chi or Sitercise classes offered by VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice to help with building core strength and improving balance.

Employ RICE

RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, can help men and women overcome the aches and pains that result as the body ages and tendons begin to lose some of their elasticity. RICE might be most helpful for people with tendinitis.

“It’s important to exercise regularly and to stay active after an injury, fall or joint replacement, only of course with the approval of your doctor and under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, but appropriate rest and care is also necessary,” Filosa explained. “A therapist can offer tips on what’s best for specific types of pain.”

Athletes over 40 who engage in activities that require repetitive motion might need to take more days off between rounds of golf or other competitive and/or repetitive activities.

Recognize your body may develop some limitations

Age should not prevent you from being physically active, and numerous studies have touted the benefits of continuing to exercise into your golden years. However, as the body ages, muscle fibers become less dense, resulting in a loss of flexibility that increases the risk of injury and/or soreness. As men and women grow older, they shouldn’t abandon activities like gardening or strength training, but they may need to scale back on the intensity of such activities. Doing so can prevent the kinds of muscle strains associated with aging.

To learn more about our therapy program, visit our page for Therapy Services.

Fall 2019 Program Book

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers many opportunities to help you improve your health, prevent illnesses and keep you independent. From group classes, personalized blood pressure checks and nurse health coaching, to clinics and cholesterol screening, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice‘s team of professional nurses will help you design a personalized wellness program.

We are pleased to announce the release of our program book for Fall of 2019. Programs include a full line up of exercise classes and several wellness programs in towns throughout our territory.

Our next edition of the program book will be released in the winter of 2020 containing programming information for spring and summer. To be added to the mailing list, please email Mary Higgins at mhiggins@vna-commh.org or call our toll free helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Click the following link to view the Fall 2019 Program Book.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors of the Fall 2019 program book!

Local nurse receives Nightingale Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Nurse Patty Tsou was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

 

Perhaps Patty Tsou was just destined to be a nurse.

Her mother was a registered nurse, as are her siblings. Despite the strong family ties, Tsou resisted the calling at first.

“I went to school to be a teacher, but I called my mom two years in and said I wanted to switch to nursing. She cried and said, ‘You were the one I always knew would be a nurse,’” Tsou recalled.

Now, more than three decades later, the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice RN continues what became a true love affair with her profession. As a result, she was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

For the ceremony, she wore her Ona M. Wilcox College of Nursing pin alongside her mother’s St. Raphael School of Nursing Pin, just as she does every year on National Nurses Day.

“Every day I get to teach, just not kids,” Tsou said with a laugh, referencing her once potential field and the many skills she later found home health nursing requires. Not only do nurses provide clinical care, they also work to educate patients and their caregivers on self-care to manage chronic conditions and to otherwise help them recover from surgeries and illness.

“I see people in their environment. I’ve been to squalor and I’ve been to mansions, but at the end of the day [our patients] are all just people who need help,” she said.

During her career, Tsou has always been willing to go the extra mile. When she was assigned to Spanish-speaking patients, she learned the language on the job by carrying with her a pocket Spanish dictionary and eventually becoming fluent in what she termed “medical Spanish.”

“People appreciate the effort,” she said. “As a nurse, they’re always happy to see you, but even on my worst days, I still know they’ve made a difference.”

Tsou has been an employee of VNACHCH for 10 years.

According to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Nursing Karen Naccarato, Tsou has been described by her patients as a wonderful representation of VNACHCH who is “helpful, accommodating and a real comfort.”

Naccarato said Tsou goes above and beyond for her work, whether it’s serving as a preceptor to new employees, participating in new projects or allowing students to shadow her for the day.

“She truly exemplifies the qualities of excellence for the Florence Nightingale Award,” Naccarato said. “Patty brings forth much home care experience, professionalism, compassion and kindness when caring for her patients.”

The Nightingale Awards program was developed in 2001 to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. The program honors nurses from all health care settings and all Registered Nurses and LPNs involved in clinical practice, leadership or education may be considered.

Nurses can only be nominated once in their lifetime for the award. Nominations are made by the health care organization with which the nurse is affiliated. Award winners are selected based on criteria that examines what set the sets the nurse apart from others, how they impacted patient care and the profession, how they’ve shown commitment to the community and whether or not they’ve achieved a life-long legacy in a particular arena.

It’s Not All In Your Head

Dispelling myths about mental wellness during National Mental Health Month

Many understand the importance of mental wellness and the concept of self-care to prevent mental or emotional struggles, but far fewer may realized the far-reaching impacts mental health problems have in the life of every individual. Although we may think of mental health as something that does not affect us if we do not suffer personally or currently, the issue of mental health is a prevalent one today.

One in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue – some of the most common including anxiety and depression – but perhaps surprisingly to some, one in 25 Americans has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to mentalhealth.gov, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 41,000 lives lost annually.

This May, recognized as National Mental Health Month, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice wants to dispel some myths of mental illness and treatment.

Myth: Recovery is not possible

The idea of recovery seems insurmountable to many when it comes to mental illness, but when looked at as the journey of yourself or a loved one reaching a point where a normal life – including the ability to work and be an active member of the community – is the goal, then recovery is indeed possible.

Through its Behavioral Home Health program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s registered nurses collaborate with patients, family member’s and a client’s entire treatment team to help each individual discern small, achievable goals to have success reaching their best potential quality of life.

VNACHCH staff is available for visits seven days a week, plus 24-hour phone coverage to help with things like medication administration, facilitating copying skills, offering coaching on preventing physical impacts of treatment and addressing side effects should they arise.

Individuals on medication for mental illness are prone to conditions such as diabetes due to rising blood sugar or cardiac complications, and the VNACHCH staff is trained in assessing and managing these side effects in coordination with a patient’s other health providers.

Myth: People can “get over” mental illness on their own

Mental illness is not a sign of a weak mind. Some individuals have a mental illness as a result of genetics or brain chemistry, while others have an illness triggered by physical conditions or injuries that impact the body. Traumatic life experiences also serve to bring on mental illness.

To reach a point of mental wellness, people require a variety of treatment, including medication and therapy as well as the support of loved ones.

The most helpful family caregivers are those who commit to serving as advocates to connect a loved one with needed services and those who understand their family member is not defined by their mental illness. Helping to remove the stigma of mental illness is a critical part of the process.

Myth: It’s not safe to be around someone with mental illness

Most people with a mental illness are not violent, though media coverage of isolated incidents can make it appear mentally ill people are always unpredictable and irrational. Many people with mental health problems are able to go about every-day lives with little to no outward indicators of their illness.

To learn more about our Behavioral Home Health program visit https://vnacommunityhealthcare.org/our-care-programs/behavioral-home-health/.

Take the stress out of preparing to see your healthcare provider

Preparing for a medical visit can be a stressful experience.

Time frames for appointments are limited, and many often leave the doctor’s office and quickly think of questions they forgot to ask or realize they have follow-up concerns regarding the treatment or medications prescribed during their time in the exam room.

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. Show your provider your appreciation by becoming an active partner in your medical care and learning how to make time with your physician as production possible.

In addition to offering screenings of things such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice nurses are available at regular Ask the Nurse clinics throughout the community to help patients set healthy lifestyle goals and prepare for upcoming physician’s visits.

“Preparing for a visit to the doctor can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “Our nurses are available to help you navigate whatever questions and concerns you might be having about your health and make an action plan so you feel confident going into your appointment.”

Basic advice

When getting ready to visit the doctor, it’s important to write down all your symptoms and a sequence of events that occurred leading to your health concerns. Be concise with your information. Also make sure to bring your current insurance card and co-pay to the visit, as well as an up-to-date medication list to share with your provider. If you want to ask something specific, ask in a pleasantly assertive way. Don’t wait until the doctor is leaving the room to discuss the real reason you came.

Many patients don’t think to take notes during a visit, but it can be quite helpful, particularly if new medications or courses of treatment are discussed. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor politely if you feel rushed in conversation. It’s important to recognize the busy schedule physicians must keep while also advocating for the care that you need.

Know what to ask

Much of the responsibility for one’s health lies with the individual. Medical providers can make recommendations, offer treatment options and order tests, but it is critical patients take an active role in their own health. Part of this means being prepared to ask the right questions when you see your doctor.

Ask why the doctor’s recommendations are important, what symptoms you should watch for to report to your provider’s office, and be sure you understand the instructions you’ve been given to follow until you next see your physician.

Know your family history

Family medical histories are important, particularly when it comes to knowing one’s risk for a variety of conditions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, family history might be one of the strongest influences on a person’s risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. The more you know about your risk factors, the more help you can be to your physician as they work to recommend the best course of your care.

Information in your family history might suggest to your doctor that you require certain screening tests or more frequents routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Family history of things such as Alzheimer’s and dementia also helps you to know what signs and symptoms to be on the look out for so you can discuss your changing health conditions with your doctor as soon as possible.

Bring an appointment companion

While it’s important that everyone see their doctor annually, many individuals – in particular senior citizens – may find their visits to be much more frequent.

This schedule can be helpful, but also makes it easier for information to blur from one visit to the next, or for patients to take for granted they’ll be seeing their doctor again soon and lose focus, leading to a misunderstanding of instructions or missed details.

Spouses, children or even friends can be helpful when brought along on a visit. An extra set of ears, someone to take notes for you and someone to help you remember the details of your medical history can be invaluable. In addition, bringing a companion or caregiver along often means you have an advocate with you to help clarify questions or ask questions you may be unsure of asking yourself.

Janine Fay named Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home chairman of the board

Janine Fay, a Clinton resident and the President and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – headquartered in Guilford – recently took up the post of chairman of the board of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

Her two-year term was effective Jan. 1 and she hit the ground running, leading a full-day CAHCH board retreat earlier this month to chart a course to lead the industry through significant challenges and consolidation.

Fay has decades of experience in the home healthcare industry, including 20 years with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. She has led the organization as CEO since 2011.

Fay has been an active member of the CAHCH board and its committees over the years, most recently serving as Government Relations Committee Chair.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my work with CAHCH, an association whose mission I am passionate about, and taking on this new role leading its board. This is a challenging time for the home health and hospice industry as reimbursement rates continue to decline yet we see significant increases in the needs of patient’s being discharged from medical settings,” Fay said. “CAHCH does excellent work helping to bring home health and hospice providers together for advocacy and education. Its efforts are patient-centered and aimed at ensuring home health and hospice care that is cost effective and of the highest quality is available to all in need.”

As CAHCH board chairman, Fay succeeds Susan Adams, Vice President of Alliance Integration at Masonicare, who is now the immediate past chair and chairman of the CAHCH Government Relations committee.

For a full list of executive committee and board members, visit www.cthealthcareathome.org/page/Board.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.ConnecticutHomecare.org or call 203-458-4200.

Keenan Funeral Home to sponsor Comfort in Motion

A warm and welcoming 8-week session of bereavement support will be offered at Evergreen Woods in North Branford

Great comfort can be found in simply taking a walk with a friend.

That is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will once again hold its Comfort in Motion bereavement support group. The upcoming series will take place for nine weeks beginning April 11 and ending June 6. Sessions are held from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

This unique bereavement support group – the only one of its kind in the state – is facilitated by a trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Bereavement volunteer and sponsored by Keenan Funeral Home, located in North Branford.

Those grieving the loss of a loved one are invited to gather with others to walk and talk in a supportive setting while getting some exercise.

“This support group is an important part of the bereavement program for the loved ones of hospice patients we’ve served, but participation is not limited to the families of those we’ve worked with in the past,” explained Jo Ann Begley of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Any person who has lost a loved one can benefit from the support of others walking a similar journey of grief.”

The group will meet weekly at the main entrance of Evergreen Woods, 88 Notch Hill Rd., North Branford.

The facilitator will offer suggestions to help guide conversation during and after the walk. After the walk, those who choose will gather in the library at Evergreen Woods.

Begley believes in the impact she has seen this group have on those who have lost someone close to them.

“There is this synergy you can just see,” she said of the participants.

This program is free. To register call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Thank you to our sponsor:

Spring/Summer 2019 program book released

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers many opportunities to help you improve your health, prevent illnesses and keep you independent. From group classes, personalized blood pressure checks and nurse health coaching, to clinics and cholesterol screening, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice‘s team of professional nurses will help you design a personalized wellness program.

We are pleased to announce the release of our program book for Spring/Summer of 2019. Programs include a full line up of exercise classes and several wellness programs in towns throughout our territory. For the first time, our program book also includes educational articles about health and wellness trends and advice for living well.

Our next edition of the program book will be released in August of this year containing programming information for the fall. To be added to the mailing list, please email Mary Higgins at mhiggins@vna-commh.org or call our toll free helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Click the following link to view the Program book spring_summer 2019.

Guy Tommasi given Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home Innovation Award

During its annual conference earlier this month, the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home presented its Innovation Award to Guy Tommasi, the executive director of LIFETIME Care at Home.

A proven leader in the private home care industry, Tommasi created an outcome system that enables LIFETIME and its parent agency, VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice, to demonstrate the value LIFETIME brings to the healthcare system.

The CAHCH Innovation Award is given each year to an association member agency or individual who embraces change and consistently strives to use new methods and technologies to optimize home health, hospice or personal care delivery.

“Guy is recognized and respected as a statewide leader by creating the model of the future for the non-medical home care agencies,” said Deborah Hoyt, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home.

“His knowledge about leveraging data to improve business operations has elevated LIFETIME Care at Home’s value and opened doors to forward-thinking relationship-building with healthcare providers across the care continuum. Guy’s trailblazing efforts are improving the personal care industry as a whole and have carved out an important place for home-based services in future healthcare delivery models,” Hoyt added.

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. 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 welcomes new board members

During it’s annual meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, the Board of Directors of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice said goodbye to two board members and welcomed two new members to its slate.

Susan Bailey and Don Offner were thanked for their years of service on the board as their tenures came to a close, while new members Bob Paolucci and Diane Vorio were welcomed aboard.

Outgoing Board Chair Dr. Gerard Kerins, who will remain a board member, passed the chairperson reigns to David Cowan.

Paolucci brings more than 20 years of wealth management experience to the board. He founded Principle Wealth Partners, prior to which he served as senior vice president at Essex Financial where he was a member of the investment committee and board of directors. He also has large investment firm experience serving in senior roles at Fidelity Investments and Bank of America Investments. He focuses on all areas of financial planning including investment management, taxes, wealth accumulation, cash flow generation, insurance and estate planning to generate comprehensive financial plans for clients.

As a fiduciary, Paolucci, said he has a passion for providing independent, unbiased advice and educating his clients on the importance of behavioral finance.

He resides in Killingworth with his wife and daughter.

A resident of Guilford, Vorio holds an MS in Management from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, The Hartford Graduate Center and an MSN in Nursing Management, Policy & Leadership from the Yale University School of Nursing. She earned her BS in Healthcare Management from St. Joseph’s College (now The University of Saint Joseph) and her diploma as a Registered Nurse from Grace New Haven School of Nursing.

She spent the last decade at Yale New Haven Hospital as vice president of patient services and associate Chief Nursing Officer. She specializes in developing and implementing system and organizational improvements to advance safety, quality and efficiency results, as well as controlling costs and finding success in accreditation and regulatory reviews.

“On behalf of myself and my staff, I’m excited to welcome our two new board members. We know their varied and impressive skills will help us continue to thrive in our mission to be beside patients at every turn,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice President & CEO Janine Fay. “I’d also like to extend our gratitude to our two outgoing board members for their dedicated service to our agency.”