Highmore Health staff promoting I care I-90 Demenita hashtagThe passion of one person can truly have an impact. A director of nursing in a small town in South Dakota saw a need to improve dementia care and her efforts led to a statewide training spanning three communities and reaching almost 300 healthcare professionals.

Highmore Health is an independently owned 40-bed facility located in Highmore, SD, population of 770 people.   The nursing home provides 24/7 nursing care, a wide variety of therapy options and recently added a few assisted living beds.  As the director of nursing, Libby Jones, RN, oversees the care of the residents, 70% of which experience some form of dementia.

“My grandpa passed away from dementia a couple years ago, and I view all of the residents in my facility as family and I want them to have the same care that I expected for my own grandpa,” shared Jones. “We have a very family-oriented home where everyone knows each other and takes care of each other just like a family would.  Staff tried everything they could think of to help the residents, but nothing was working.”

Having received a Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN) email promoting free dementia training, Jones convinced her administrator to drive to Kansas to attend. Follow-up discussions among Great Plains QIN nursing home care initiative team members from Kansas and South Dakota led to the launch of the I-90 Road Show: Dementia Certification Training in August of 2018.

Lori Hintz, RN, CDP®, CADDCT® and Holly Beving, RN, CDP®, CADDCT®, headed up the ambitious statewide effort in South Dakota with Brenda Groves, LPN, ACHO, CDSGF, CDP®, CADDCT® agreeing to make the trip from Kansas to serve as the instructor.

Libby Jones, Highmore Health and Brenda Groves, Great Plains QIN Kansas

Hintz declared, “Libby’s request was ultimately responsible for the development and resulting impact of the I-90 Road Show.”

The ripple effect continued.  Jones nominated Groves for the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) 2019 Educator of the Year and the resulting award brought additional attention to the impact of the I-90 Road Show in South Dakota and resulted in the opportunity for NCCDP instructor training.

I-90 Road Show Dementia Training Impact

Highmore Health staff attending the I-90 Road Show Dementia TrainingJones saw in impact at Highmore Health as well. “We sent 24 employees to the dementia training in Chamberlain at the end of August, and 22 of those are still employed so retention of staff seems to have improved.  In addition, the training made a huge impact in how the employees communicate with the residents, problem solve regarding negative behaviors, and train new staff to communicate with residents experiencing dementia.”

Jones continued, “Now our administrator, business office manager, dietary manager, environmental services director, all of our activities staff, and a cook have either gone through CNA classes or are currently going through them because they were inspired to learn more about how they can serve our residents.  We have implemented more widespread cross-training throughout our facility as we are able to and train all staff in all departments to communicate with the residents.”

Highmore Health also participates in Music and Memory® South Dakota, an alternative care method to help people in nursing homes and other care organizations find renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of personalized music.

Hintz, who is engaged with both the dementia and Music and Memory program, commended Jones for commitment to quality care, “I was so inspired by Libby’s leadership at Highmore Health and the dedication she and her entire team had in learning more about dementia and implementing non-pharmacological care approaches to the residents living in their center.”

Jones values the collaboration and support offered by the Great Plains QIN, “They are more than happy to help with any situation that may come up. If they don’t know something, they know who to get ahold of and they stop at nothing until they have helped you find the answer.”

Her advice for others seeking to provide quality care for residents experiencing dementia, “If there is ever an opportunity to have someone come to your facility to do training in dementia care, do it!  If there’s ever an opportunity to send staff to dementia training, do it!  It is one of the most challenging and common diagnoses in long-term care. It is worth the time, money, and effort to invest in the education!”

June is Alzheimer and Brain Awareness Month. Go purple and share your story to increase awareness.