Congratulations! Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, among others in Illinois, achieved the composite score goal of six or less for at least one quarter, aligning its performance with the top 10% of nursing homes nationally.
Dementia-only care centers are springing up all over Chicagoland, but Memory Springs offers a unique and separate program within an existing skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.
Launching officially Oct. 4 in a building that has been serving its neighborhood since 1976, Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., will be providing gender-based care by separating its secured dementia floor in half – one side for women and the other for men.
“We’re excited to provide this unique approach,” memory care director Stephanie Haggard said. “We will open the program with women residents only and then expand eventually into accepting men. Each side of our dementia floor will have its own activity room and dining room.”
Haggard added that the dementia program will take a non-traditional approach – meaning it will be more homelike than like a nursing home. All staff will be specifically trained in dementia care and will be permanently assigned to the floor for consistency in care.
In total, the memory care floor will have 50 beds and serve residents with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. A pre-admissions assessment determines whether an individual’s needs fit the program, and an interdisciplinary team will be working closely with both the family and residents. Caregivers will be specially trained in ways to interact with residents meaningfully by getting to know each person and their daily preferences personally.
Haggard, a former nursing home activity director, noted that activities will be geared to each resident’s level of functioning.
“Appropriate activities are vital to engaging residents and helping them relate to the world around them as much as possible,” Haggard said. “We will also be encouraging families to join their loved one by participating in activities together.”
Music programs will be an important part of regular activities. Studies have shown that music elevates mood and improves cognition. Cueing and hand-overhand assistance will also be provided by staff to help residents who may need that extra support.
Additionally, there will be on-site psychiatric and psychological services along with ongoing dementia and behavioral education – especially important for family members struggling with acceptance of the disease process in their loved ones.
“By offering a separate program within the confines of an existing nursing home like Continental, which even has an onsite dialysis unit, we can accept residents who may also have complex skilled nursing needs or require physical, occupational or even speech therapy,” Haggard said. “We believe we have it all here under one roof and are excited to offer Memory Springs as another important component of our resident-centered care.”
For the past 43 years, Patty Schultz, 80, has called Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., home.
She is the resident who’s lived there the longest. According to senior staff members, she was admitted as either patient No. 2 or patient No. 3 in August 1976, moving in even before the building was completely finished.
Schultz grew up in a bustling family of eight children in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. Because of a serious neurological disorder that has now impacted her ability to speak, she was protected and cared for by her mother and later other family members until it was no longer feasible.
“My sister was named Patricia because she was born on St. Patrick’s Day,” her brother, John, recalled. “She’s always loved that holiday – all holidays for that matter. She has an easy-going personality, loves to laugh and go to parties.”
Sabrina Robinson, Continental’s activity director, confirms that Patty is quite the party-goer.
“No matter what we’re doing – she’s right there in the thick of it,” Robinson said. “She enjoys everything from finger painting – especially with green paint because of her connection to St. Paddy’s Day – playing catch with stress balls or wearing silly headpieces along with everyone else – she knows how to have fun.”
Robinson, a former special education teacher, has found her niche designing activities for all levels of functioning among Continental’s residents.
“FaceTime with families and friends who live far away or simply cannot visit is a very popular activity for them all,” she said. “Whether it’s Patty’s family or the families of other residents, we have done FaceTime with people as far away as Europe, Japan and even the Philippines. It’s a great way to keep their connections strong.” When Schultz was younger, a bus picked her up from Continental and transported her to and from the nearby Anixter Center where individuals with special needs can gain life skills, stay active and earn a modest income. She worked there for eight years with Continental’s dietary staff packing her a brown-bag lunch each day so she could enjoy her noon break with friends.
Today, keeping life consistent for Schultz is a shared staff goal. She even has had the same physician caring for her since her original 1976 admission date despite his now being semi-retired.
“We truly provide person-centered care here,” Robinson observed. “Whether it’s Patty or others – we care about them like we would our own family. Seeing them happy, involved and content is so gratifying, not just to me, but to everyone who works here. Patty brings us all a lot of joy.”
Senior Living Magazine
Marine Lance Corporal Charles Pierce very well remembers coming home from Vietnam back in the early 1970s – maybe because so many of his friends did not. His work as a field radio operator took him all over that country during a war where “everything was a front line,” he vividly recalls. Pierce, now a full-time resident at Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., noted that his re-entry into civilian life after being in the Marines from 1967 through 1971 was tough. In “Nam,” he said, marijuana and opioids were in plentiful use among the military. And yes, he took part freely.
For the first three years following his honorable discharge, he just “bummed around” Chicago trying to get his bearings while witnessing his brother, also a Vietnam vet, suffer with PTSD.
Finally, in 1974 Pierce - with constant urging from his mother - decided he’d better get a job. After some introspection, he realized that being a marine taught him one very critical thing about himself … an insight that would propel him into a successful work life.
“I learned that I really like working outside, no matter what the weather,” he said. Soon he was busy refueling jet planes at a Chicago airport and would do so for the next 27 years.
Pierce was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and was discharged at a rank of Private, but it came with a steep price: exposure to Agent Orange.
Senior Living Magazine
Part treasure hunter, part detective, Amanda Schmicker, the social services director at Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 5336 N. Western Ave., is not easily dissuaded by bureaucratic complexity on behalf of her patients.
Schmicker, who is also a registered nurse and licensed nursing home administrator holds a Master of Business Administration, is known for her creativity and dogged persistence.
She has tracked down veterans’ benefits, long-forgotten pensions and trust funds, never-applied-for Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid assistance, even missing relatives. If Schmicker is on the case, patients can rest assured their “fortune” will be found.
“I learned to navigate the money maze simply by googling for information and teaching myself,” Schmicker said modestly. “I’d talk to patients who would tell me they were penniless, yet they had served our country as a veteran, honorably discharged, and had the medals and honors to prove it. It started me on a mission to get what was coming to them, to obtain the financial benefits they had earned and deserved. It completely turns their outlook around when suddenly they learn their future is brighter than they thought.”
Knowing patients’ income levels and financial resources is imperative for Schmicker in creating a successful discharge plan. Many veterans, Schmicker noted, don’t realize that they may qualify for homemaker services or home health visits once they’re back at home, or that they can receive additional monthly income from a little-known benefit called the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension.
In addition to linking veterans to appropriate funding, Schmicker has helped reunite families, even determining birth dates and birth places by using information from Facebook or Intelius.
One patient’s records indicated three different birth years, and when the patient said his records could be found in Bangor, Maine, they were actually located in Bangor, Michigan.
Schmicker is credited for launching a financial fraud investigation, tracking down misdirected funds from a trust fund on behalf of one of her patients. For a long time, a large sum of money covering rent, cell phone costs and other incidental expenses was sent to a location where her patient no longer resided. Schmicker followed the money trail to successfully reunite the patient once more with his funds.
Piecing together yet another puzzle helped a patient, now in his 40s, receive the Medicare benefits of his deceased parents. How did he qualify? He had been disabled as a youth while his parents were still living.
“I have a patient who worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years and never collected his retirement benefits,” Schmicker said. “I contacted the post office’s Office of Personnel Management for federal employees to learn what I could about activating his pension. Then I used Intelius to see if I could locate any relatives of his and finally found a niece who agreed to act as his healthcare surrogate. In his case, there were a lot of dots to connect.”
Schmicker noted that the insurance industry today is complex, with customer service contacts that only give callers the run-around. “Patients just give up,” she said. “When they don’t have family to assist them, are sick and struggling on their own, the entire process is just too overwhelming.”
And that’s why having a determined advocate like Schmicker is to everyone’s benefit.
One patient summed up her services well: “She’s the best friend I’ve ever had.”
Continental staff recently hosted a continuing education program for area healthcare professionals entitled, “Ethics: Am I Really Responsible?” presented by Deborah Byrd Goodwill. Deborah is a well-known continuing education provider throughout the State of Illinois with a varied list of almost two dozen timely topics. More than 60 healthcare professionals attended the evening event which included live music, networking, food and beverages. Guests were given tours and left with not only gift bags, but their CEU certificates conveniently in hand.
If you think you're seeing double while at Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation, you are! Claudette and Claudine Liban are identical twins along with being registered nurses who work in this long-term care facility at 5336 N. Western Ave. in Chicago. Luckily, each woman has a vastly different job, however, patients and families may still easily run into both during their stay or visit there.
"Even though I might be in a care plan meeting with serious things to discuss with patients and families, the minute they find out I'm a twin, and my twin also works in this building, the conversation immediately takes a different turn," Claudette said with an amused smile. "People are fascinated with the idea of twins and want to know all about the experience of having one."
Twin birth statistics in the U.S., as of 2013, show that twins accounted for three in 100 births. And, about 32 individuals out of every 1,000 is a twin.
On Oct. 23, 1980, the girls were born three months prematurely in the Philippines where their family resided at the time. Claudette was born first at 11:54 p.m. followed by Claudine at 11:59 p.m.
"What's amazing about our birth times," Claudette explained, "is that we could have been twins with completely different birthdays had Claudine showed up just one minute later!" As children they were identical in height and weight. Their mother dressed them in identical outfits. Even their voices sound the same. However, as they grew, Claudine eventually identified nursing as her career choice and Claudette followed her lead.
The women now have 17 years of longterm care experience after starting out working as teens in a nursing home close to their home. From that experience, they went on to become certified nursing assistants while also studying for their nursing degrees. They attended Evanston Township High School followed by Oakton Community College. Today, Claudette is Continental's assistant director of nursing and Claudine is the MDS Coordinator which includes assessing patients in a way that helps formulate and implement individual care plans.
"Growing up as a twin was fun," said Claudine, who is described as the social butterfly of the two. "We're both Cubs fans and foodies checking out all the fabulous restaurants Chicago has to offer. Claudette is always taking photos of the food we're served!"
For relaxation, the twins also enjoy visiting Chicago's museum campus and in particular the Shedd Aquarium. There they find environments like coral reefs, along with sharks, exotic fish, and stingrays that remind them of their childhood summers along the water in the Philippines.
"Because our professional lives are so hectic, it is nice to create a serene experience on our own time, and going to the Shedd is a nice outlet for us," Claudette added.
What's the best part of being a twin? Both women quickly agreed that the highlight is always having someone to talk to or to spend time with. Claudette added, "My sister is very smart - she's so knowledgeable and always gives good advice. I really appreciate that." Looks like that feeling is mutual.
Senior Living - December 7th, 2016
The statistics are sobering - kidney disease is on the rise in the United States today. One in 10 American adults (more than 20 million people) now have some level of chronic kidney disease. End-stage renal disease is especially hard-hitting among African Americans at a rate that is three times higher than for Caucasians.