The Pioneer Network is the national leader of the culture change movement within nursing homes. In August, staff from three nursing homes that participate in the Labor Management Project’s Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative – Mary Manning Walsh, Terence Cardinal Cooke and Amsterdam Nursing Home – attended Pioneer’s annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Ten staff members from these homes, three managers and seven union members, along with Labor Management Project Consultants, Robert DeLauro and Diann Jeffers, presented a 90-minute workshop entitled, “Adding Mental Health First Aid to Your Person-Centered Skillset” to more than sixty conference attendees.

The Behavioral Health Learning Collaborative is a two-year-old initiative that provides full-day training sessions on behavioral health issues that affect nursing home residents. In addition to the instruction provided by subject matter experts, the sessions are organized to provide time for participants from different homes to hear from each other. This gives them the opportunity to share best practices, as well as the common challenges they face when caring for residents with mental illness, dementia and behavioral disorders. This peer support among nursing home staff is a unique feature of the Learning Collaborative.

At the Pioneer conference, the three Learning Collaborative nursing homes took turns presenting how the collaborative has helped them improve care for residents with behavioral health issues.

Amsterdam is implementing training for all staff on de-escalating potentially volatile situations. Their goal is to decrease the number of assaults on staff in 2019, compared with 2017 and 2018. Mary Manning Walsh presented the case study of a resident with a multitude of distressing behaviors. They described how improving patient-centered communication, developing a team approach and implementing several non-pharmacological interventions lead to measurable improvements for this resident. Terence Cardinal Cooke discussed the formidable task of planning, implementing and sustaining a safe, fair, enforceable and person-centered smoking policy. This “work-in-progress” is being continually reviewed to make a difference for residents with clear-cut nicotine addiction.

Conference attendees rated this workshop as exceptional.

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