To Infinity Rehab, therapy is about outstanding patient outcomes and happy residents. Their team of clinicians work diligently for patient satisfaction and therapy accomplishments.
Wendy Rehfeld, MOTR/L with Infinity Rehab, reflects on her successes with patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and how her therapy team’s efforts have benefitted their residents.
Tales of Success in Uncertain Times
We each have a story, and during these COVID times, have some mighty adventures within adventures. This is dedicated to all those therapists out there, in the trenches pouring into people, both residents and coworkers. Each thing you do and say makes a difference! Maybe it seems it doesn’t at first, but know that it does!
Success according to Webster’s dictionary is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Interestingly, the comment about the “thin line between success and failure” used to articulate the word is something I think we can all relate to. Often the world we function in cannot differentiate between success and failure unless there is some monetary value assigned to it. When working directly with people and as therapists in the trenches, we don’t directly see the money piece (sometimes) and I can say I struggle with how to put a price on health and quality of life.
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
“there is a thin line between success and failure”
the good or bad outcome of an undertaking.
“the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises”
My recent adventure as the rehab director at Sherwood Park to some may not be seen as a success, but I have to say it was a fantastic learning opportunity and I believe very much successful! I have learned through conversation with staff and residents that our efforts as a therapy team made such a difference at Sherwood Park. We had the opportunity to come into a broken place and help it heal. We poured into each resident and staff member to rebuild relationships, bring back functional capacity, and improve quality of life. For the business-minded, I am certain there are places that may have been operated more soundly, but for the residents and therapy team, we can rest knowing that we poured heart and soul into people and in return, woke up life!
Initially, I had some challenges winning the trust and support of staff, but after months of pouring into residents and CNAs/nursing staff, things started happening. On the tail end of COVID-19 outbreaks, the facility was on lockdown for quite a while. People were wasting away in their rooms, struggling to carry on. The ultimate case of failure to thrive. I know we have all seen the effects of the isolation and a decline in overall function with COVID-19, notably in the elderly population. It is a real thing and has been devastating to folks all over! I was now seeing it first hand and knew it had to change!
I had to re-teach staff and residents the dangers of too much time in bed and through hours of therapies and working side by side with CNAs and nursing staff, we tirelessly began to build OOB schedules and strategies to support daily routines incorporating participation in meaningful activity. We designed restorative programs and worked tirelessly fighting the barriers to seamless execution of the programs. I worked to create tracking systems and minimized the impact on caregiver staff. Therapies worked hard to train and reinforce resident-driven exercise programs, OOB tracking, and to encourage turnout to facility activities with caregiver support wherever possible.
After months of these efforts, we finally started to see life awakening, like new growth after a wild fire. Finally, the turnouts for exercise classes, facility social activities, and even Resident Council were at an all time high. Activities staff were the first to comment on continued turnout of residents and attributing to therapies. Over the months, it just kept getting better. Then they had to create two exercise classes to accommodate the turnout and make the dining area larger, pushing the boundaries of social distancing. Similar things began to happen with residents being more active in their care and the overall caregiver burden notably being reduced.
That was when nursing staff began commenting on how resident quality of life and functional performance were better. One nurse in particular, who was a hard sell from the beginning, was the one who later came back and said to me, “You have brought a lot to this place and it is better here because of you. You are a high caliper therapist! Thank you for all you have done.”
That compliment came at a particularly low time for me when I was feeling discouraged with the pushback I was getting from CNA staff. Change is always so difficult for people. It’s so easy to take the path of least resistance. When you are confronted with people who sometimes just show up for a paycheck, it is hard to convince them that quality of life is important and it is our responsibility as caregivers to make it possible. The efforts are hard, and in order to maximize functional recovery and quality of life it requires the support and hard work of nurses, CNAs, and therapy staff around the clock. It’s the ultimate 24-hour therapy environment.
Since that point, I felt a little less deflated and continued to pour into the residents and staff through purposeful therapies and caregiver training/education. I have since had most of the residents who are or have been on caseload say they have enjoyed the therapy experience and are so much better now. They thanked us profusely commenting on their progress and how they feel “alive again.”
When it was time to say goodbye, it was definitely heartfelt. Sad to see the closing of a chapter as Sherwood Park has been in the Infinity Rehab family for several years. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to serve and am humbled by the gratitude that has been shown by residents and staff.
Sometimes we don’t always get to see things come full circle. But when we do, it is the reminder that I need to keep pressing on, remembering why I chose to be a therapist and that my work does indeed make a difference in one small corner of the world.
Wendy Rehfeld, MOTR/L