Veteran Care: What Does it Mean to be VA Contracted?

Did you know that the VA contracts with community nursing homes to care for aging veterans?

As a veteran, you have options when you’re in need of skilled nursing care. You aren’t limited to only those facilities run by the VA.

At St. William’s, we are proud to say that we are one of the few skilled nursing facilities in the area that’s contracted with the VA for veteran care.

Keep reading to learn more about what it means to be VA contracted.

Services We Offer Veterans

Nursing homes run by the VA are often hard to get into and might be located many miles from friends and family. If you opt for a community nursing facility, such as St. William’s, you can get the top-notch care you need while staying local.

Our facility offers veterans individualized medical care. Nurses work with your doctor to develop a care plan that’s best for you. Whether you’re staying with us short-term to recover from an injury or surgery, or you’re here for a longer stay, our staff is here for you with 24-hour care and support.

We offer a range of therapy services including physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Our state-of-the-art physical therapy room offers all the tools you’ll need to strengthen your muscles and improve joint function.

At St. William’s, we understand that, as a veteran, you may have unique obstacles to overcome on a day-to-day basis. Our mental health professionals work with veterans one-on-one to ensure they can manage the stress of daily life. Simply having someone to talk to can make a huge difference in your quality of life.

Occupational therapists work with veterans to help them become more independent. They can help you to re-learn how to feed and clothe yourself, do chores around the house, and cook for yourself. Occupational therapy might be just the thing you need to get back on your feet after a stroke or injury.

Are You Eligible?

According to the VA website, if you served in the active military, naval, or air services, you may be eligible for VA healthcare benefits. Visit their site to check specific eligibility requirements and to sign up for health care benefits. Once you’re signed up for benefits, you can learn more about what the services VA can help with.

There are three different types of nursing facilities that the VA will cover. State-owned veteran homes and VA-owned facilities, as well as community nursing homes such as St. William’s. Only the facilities contracted with the VA will qualify for benefits, so it’s in your best interest, as a veteran, to choose a facility like St. William’s who works with the VA and understands the process.

Veteran Care Done the Right Way

At St. William’s, we value veterans. They fought for freedom and served our country bravely. Now it’s time for us to serve them.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help care for you or your loved one.

Why St. William’s for Senior Care? It’s the Home with a Heart!

It can happen in the blink of an eye – a fall, a sudden illness, a stroke, or a heart attack.

When a situation arises where you need a skilled nursing facility, you don’t want to rush into a decision. That’s why it’s important to prepare. Get to know your local nursing home before a medical issue forces your hand.

In this article, we’ll show you why St. William’s Living Center is an excellent choice for senior care.

Five-Star Medicare Rating

The best way to compare nursing homes is to use Medicare.gov. Each nursing home in the country is given a star rating through Medicare. The overall star rating is based on the following factors:

  • Health inspections
  • Staffing
  • Quality of resident care measures

Each year, nursing homes undergo a thorough inspection by the state. The inspection looks over all areas of nursing home life including housekeeping, food safety, medication management, and protection from abuse.

The staff rating is based on the number of staffing hours per resident per day. Quality ratings measure how residents are doing at the facility. Inspectors take into account activity levels,  weight management, pain management, and up-to-date vaccinations.

It’s not easy for a nursing home to receive an overall five-star rating, but St. William’s has done it many times over. On our most recent survey, we received above-average scores in all three areas of care and a much-above-average overall score.

Everything You Need in One Place

St. William’s is a skilled nursing facility, but we offer so much more! Our outpatient therapy services are available to residents and to community members alike.

Physical therapists help patients recover faster from surgeries or illnesses and provide the necessary support for those who need a little extra help moving around.

We offer occupational therapy to help residents regain strength and get back to the activities of daily living. Our therapists help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other duties around the home. They also teach techniques for energy conservation and joint protection to prevent future injuries.

Our speech pathologists give the gift of speech to those who have lost their way. They help patients regain the ability to swallow, feed themselves, and communicate their needs.

As a resident at St. William’s, you or your loved one will have access to all of our therapy options as well as a diverse activities schedule, full dining room, and beautiful outdoor spaces.

Our Senior Care Staff is Second-to-None!

At St. William’s, we have a full staff of qualified RNs, LPNs, and CNAs to meet your senior care needs. We work with you and your doctor to come up with a personalized care plan that manages your nutritional, pharmaceutical, and social needs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, St. William’s staff members have taken great strides to make life better for our residents. Visitor restrictions have put many residents in risk of mental health issues. But the staff at St. William’s has risen to the occasion by helping residents communicate with their loved ones via video chats and window visits and by providing much-needed companionship.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was administered to staff and residents on January 13, 2021. The second dose of the vaccine will come in February.

We are so excited to share that there are currently NO active cases of COVID-19 at St. William’s and we will be able to welcome back visitors on Monday, January 25, 2021. Please refer to our visitation guide for more information on how to visit your loved ones.

As we come closer to a time when COVID-19 is no longer a threat, we want to thank the community for your support. St. William’s is more than a senior care facility – we are the home with a heart!

Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

Benefits of Short-Term Rehab at St. William’s

The days and weeks following a surgery or an injury are critical. Going home is not always the best option. You may lack the strength and mobility you’ll need to get back on your feet and back to your regular routine.

Short-term rehab is an excellent option if you’re looking for a bit of extra help while you recover. In this article, we’ll share the benefits of taking a few days or weeks to recover at St. William’s Living Center.

Recover Faster

Trying to get back on your feet when you’re all by yourself can be really tough. Even with a caretaker near, recovery can be a stressful process if you or your caretaker don’t have the proper skills. You may suffer from extreme fatigue, mobility issues, and lack of strength.

Studies have shown that people who participate in focused rehabilitation programs immediately after a medical procedure or stroke recover faster than those who don’t. With help from a dedicated staff of care professionals, you’ll get back on your feet faster.

You may benefit from short-term rehab if you’ve suffered from one or more of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Joint replacement
  • Stroke
  • Injury
  • Neurological issues
  • Illness

On-Site Therapy

Many doctors prescribe physical or occupational therapy after a surgery. You’ll get the most out of your therapy appointments if you can take them on-site at a short-term care facility. You won’t have to worry about traveling to appointments and risking further injury by moving around too much before your body is ready.

Physical therapists work with you to regain mobility and strength. You’ll receive a personalized therapy program that gives you the training and tools you need for proper recovery. Your therapist will also teach you exercises to do when you go home to lower the risk of falls or future injuries.

Occupational therapy focuses on improving coordination so you can tackle day-to-day tasks with greater ease. Your occupational therapist can help you relearn how to cook, clean, do laundry, and complete other activities when you go home.

24-Hour Care

Having a whole team of care professionals on-site to help you is a really beneficial part of short-term rehab. Other care professionals include nurses, nutritionists, and social workers.

Nursing care is especially important during the first few days after your hospital stay. They’ll help you keep track of medications, make sure you’re getting enough food and water, and can assist in bathing and toileting, if necessary. At St. William’s, we are a veteran contracted facility and can work with the VA on the right care plan for you.

You’ll also have access to other amenities including a full menu of dining options and organized daily activities to keep your brain and body active. During the warmer months, you can enjoy the outdoors in the community courtyards without worry of falling and risking further injury.

Get Back on Your Feet with Short-Term Rehab at St. William’s

Short-term rehab is an excellent option for those who aren’t quite ready to return home after a medical event. If you fall into this category, know that we’re here to help.

Contact us today! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

VISITATION MODIFICATION CHANGES BEGINNING AUGUST 31, 2020

Dear St. William’s Living Center and McCornell Court Resident, Friends, and Family,

We are very excited to share news that we will soon be able to resume visitation in our setting and warmly welcome visitors back in our buildings! After carefully developing a safe and comprehensive reopening plan, we expect in-door visits to resume on August 31, 2020.

As of today, we have not had any positive cases of COVID-19 in any staff or residents.  We developed a testing plan that includes ongoing surveillance testing of direct care staff through an agreement with the Mayo Clinic.  We are taking an aggressive approach to test residents and staff with symptoms by utilizing rapid testing available through Sanford Clinic in Parkers Prairie. 

INDOOR VISITS MUST BE SCHEDULED IN ADVANCE

Guests may schedule an indoor visit online at https://stwilliamslivingcenter.simplybook.me/ or by calling the business office at 218-338-4671 during business hours Monday – Friday 8am to 4:30pm.

VISITORS MUST BE SCREEND PRIOR TO ENTRY

All visitors entering the facility will be actively screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 at a screening station prior to the visitor walking through the facility.  All visitors to the nursing home should enter door A to be screened.  All assisted living visitors should enter door E to be screened.  Do not come for an indoor visit if you are ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.  

VISITATION RULES MAY CHANGE

Visitation rules may change for several reason’s including if a resident or staff person tests positive for COVID-19, if the case activity level in the community increases above an incidence rate of 10:10,000 in Douglas or Otter Tail county, or if the facility does not have adequate staffing or PPE

See below for a visitation guide to explain the process for Level 2 visitation at McCornell Court and St. William’s Living Center.  Please know we continue to provide outdoor visits, window visits, and visits through technology and encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.  If you have any questions, please give us a call at 218-338-4671. 

Sincerely,

Tim Kelly, Administrator

MDH Essential Caregiver Update July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020

Hello St. William’s Living Center and McCornell Court Friends and Family,

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently released guidance which allows for Essential Caregiver for nursing home and assisted living residents.  Please see the MDH guidance found here and below.

Although social distancing and physical separation are still important to keep residents safe, we are taking steps to combat the unintended consequences of prolonged social isolation and to maintain overall health and wellbeing.

St. William’s Living Center will complete a policy for an Essential Caregiver program by July 25 and the program will be implemented shortly after.  The policy will follow MDH guidelines and is a narrowly defined exception to visitor restrictions which may allow certain cares to be provided by a personal caregiver from outside our community. This new guidance is not intended to be a reopening of visitors, but instead is intended to provide essential care for high risk residents.

If, at any time, it is deemed unsafe for Essential Caregivers to enter the building—due to a rise in the number of cases in our community, either within our walls or in the broader community—it is our obligation per MDH guidelines to revisit and reassess the program.

Prior to finalizing our policy, we are waiting for feedback from the Minnesota Department of Health and Leading Age MN.  When our policy is complete, we will distribute it on our website at www.stwilliamslivingcenter.com, by email, and by mail to each resident’s point of contact. 

Please know we continue to provide outdoor visits, window visits, and visits through technology and encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.

Sincerely,

Tim Kelly

Administrator

St. William’s Living Center

Is It True? Common Misinformation About the Coronavirus Outbreak

We are fortunate to live in a time when we don’t have to wait for the morning paper for our news. It’s easy to get the breaking news we need through twenty-four-hour cable news outlets, social media, and the internet.

This fast news cycle has its drawbacks too. Misinformation about the Coronavirus outbreak tends to get spread around just as quickly as facts. Sometimes, even legitimate news sources make mistakes in their reporting and spread misinformation about this deadly disease.

In this article, we’ll address some of the recent pieces of misinformation floating around out there. We’ll also tell you what you can believe during these uncertain times.

Recently Reported Misinformation

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently made claims that asymptomatic spread, or spread of the disease by those who carry the virus yet exhibit no symptoms, is a rare occurrence. A day later, they went back on this claim and said that much is still unknown about asymptomatic spread.

In early June, the Star Tribune reported a story that grossly misrepresented the impact of the disease in the state’s long-term care facilities. The article miscounted death totals and made no mention of the measures taken to care for those with COVID-19.

Some of the facilities mentioned in the article opened up entire wings to the care of COVID-19 patients and have high recovery rates. This information was completely omitted from the original article and only a small correction printed in the next day’s paper.

There have also been many reports about how the virus spreads. In the initial stages of the outbreak, scientists believed the virus was spread by touching surfaces. Now, some news outlets are saying that it can’t be spread this way, rather, it spreads by being close to someone who has the virus.

The truth? It’s more complicated than these limited online stories cover.

What We Know About the Coronavirus Outbreak

The examples we’ve given in this article are just a few recent examples of misreporting on this topic. Let’s concentrate on what we know to be true at this time.

1. We Don’t Understand the Disease Yet

Despite all the information out there on COVID-19, scientists really don’t know much about it. From the beginning, we’ve operated assuming asymptomatic spread and surface spread are dangerous to our residents. Until we have hard, scientific facts about how the disease spreads, we plan to air on the side of caution to protect our vulnerable residents.

2. It Is Deadly to Our Residents

We might not have scientific data about the disease, but we do know one thing for sure – it is deadly to the elderly and to those with compromised immune systems. The statistics verify this as a fact and we need to continue diligent safety measures to protect the residents of St. William’s Living Center.

3. Masks DO Help

Wearing a cloth mask won’t necessarily prevent you from contracting the virus. However, wearing a mask does protect others if you happen to be a carrier of the virus or if you haven’t developed symptoms yet.

In fact, disposable masks are now readily available at many major stores and pharmacies. Disposable masks provide a better fit, which gives you more protection. They are also more comfortable to wear than heavy, cloth masks.

4. Testing Is Very Important

Testing is the best way to prevent outbreaks in long-term care facilities. By testing our residents and staff, we can identify those who carry the virus, even if they do not show symptoms. We can keep infected staff out of the building, and we can isolate infected residents to prevent further spread.

At this time, St. William’s has had no positive cases of COVID-19.

5. Excellent Hygiene Works to Prevent Outbreak

We know for certain that practicing excellent hygiene is the best way to stay safe during this pandemic. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid touching your face.

Use hand sanitizer throughout the day as an added precaution. Hand sanitizer is now readily available in most major stores. Buy a bottle to keep in your car and use it every time you return from a trip out. 

What We’re Doing to Keep Our Residents Safe

Our top priority is keeping our residents safe from a Coronavirus outbreak. All St. William’s staff wear surgical masks and protective eyewear while on duty. We are also screening all employees before they enter the building to ensure someone with symptoms doesn’t come to work and infect others.

We worked with the National Guard to complete three rounds of testing on all residents and staff members. So far, we have had no positive cases of Coronavirus at St. William’s.

We are well-stocked in personal protective equipment for our staff members and we have plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies on hand. Employees that develop COVID-like symptoms are immediately asked to leave work, consult their physician, and get tested before returning to work.

Residents who report symptoms are isolated in their room and immediately tested. If a resident tests positive, we’ve prepared a separate area of our facility to act as a COVID unit. That resident will be separated from healthy residents and only COVID designated staff will care for them. Healthy residents will never share space or staff with the COVID unit when that time comes.

St. William’s is strictly following all Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control guidelines. If you have questions or concerns, please call us.

What Does “Getting Old” Mean?

What is the definition of “Getting Old”?  Is “getting old” about a person’s age or maybe it really has nothing to do with the number of years a person lives? 

There are good and bad connotations about “getting old”.  There are true hallmarks of becoming older, such as doing things slower than usual, forgetting more easily, getting wrinkles, and needing more rest than before.  No doubt, age usually begets a breakdown in our physical and mental capabilities; but, does that actually mean we are “getting old?”.  Does “getting old” really have to do with declining health and succumbing to its struggles or is it more about life experiences and the value of what you have to offer? 

Maybe “getting old” has more to do with the characteristics developed after being around for a long time.  After battling through the thicket of life’s circumstances and succumbing to the many bumps along the way, what kind of outlook does an older person develop over the years?  Of course, we are all different and respond uniquely as we journey down the road. 

Those who have aged have a choice of “getting older”.  Maybe “getting old” is when you are absorbed with the loss of what you had before or what you don’t have now?

Or, maybe the choice is to experience the maturity and thoughtfulness of this life.  There is definitely some truth to the saying, “Wisdom Comes with Age”, although this is really determined by the one “getting old”.  Wisdom is about looking through the lens of what really matters; yielding to a backlash of experiences, seeing the forest and not just the trees, summarizing life’s issues, and deriving conclusions by gaining perspective or a well-rounded view of what is important. “Getting old” can be about building tolerance, patience, fortitude, understanding, focusing on what truly matters, having more confidence and feeling a calling or moral responsibility to speak up for the sake of the upcoming generations.  “Getting older” may be a beautiful thing.  What a ripe moment to enjoy life, if you choose to. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Seniors Facing COVID-19

Putting yourself in the seat of a senior, what would it feel like to be constantly reminded about the fear of contracting COVID-?  While facing the reality that grave illness or death for themselves or their friends may be just around the corner, the curve of anxiety takes a steep turn upwards.  Not only is the mind turning various possibilities of “What if’s”, they are also more prone to constant worrying, sleeping and eating problems, concentration difficulties, increased irritability and frustration, and likely fear the worst-case scenarios – all symptoms of clinical anxiety; and all normal in the face of a pandemic. 

On top of this, seniors, as is the case for most Americans, are authorized to isolate themselves or practice social distancing during the course of this virus.  Overall, seniors struggle significantly more with isolation compared to the general population.   As isolation persists as a constant, loneliness oftentimes begets depression.   Being alone can be debilitating, with a high suicide rate among those over 65, noting that 18% of all suicide deaths are from the elderly population.  Depression among the elderly oftentimes shows itself with common symptoms, including staying in bed and sleeping too much or too little, not eating well, losing interest in a usual routine, having little energy to do even pleasurable activities, postponing contact with others, and of course isolating.  Actually, if you have visited your area nursing home or senior living facilities, it is evident that there is an epidemic of loneliness among its residents.

On the flip side, not only do seniors isolate themselves when depressed, the truth is that they are isolated as a forgotten generation while the rest of the world stays busy with all its distractions.  Their isolation comes from within as well as in a large part, prompted by the reality of being left behind as an after-thought or one of the last “things to do” on their adult children’s “to do” list. Isolation is a daily reality for most seniors, and likely much more so with the COVID-19 virus.

As we all face being home-bound, missing our friends and those family members not living with us, isolated in a sense from normal living, let’s pause and empathize with those seniors that live like this as a matter of routine.  Reach out and connect.  Seniors need the support, comfort, and alliance during this difficult time.  They are a special generation of people with strong values and faith, hardy by history, and have been our leaders and role models for the generations after them.  They are next in line as the lost generation.  Let us respect, appreciate and value their worth, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  Now that life hurriedness has taken a stop with quarantine for most of us, let us take time and reflect on what really is important.  Reach out and virtually touch a senior, including those that are isolated as well as those more vulnerable and are especially dealing with heightened anxiety and depression.  If you were sitting in their seat, isn’t that what you would want?  

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Mental Health Professional

St. Williams Mental Health Services

What About the Kids?

How are kids dealing with the CoVid-19?  Being locked down is a difficult proposition, but especially for our kids.  Kids are used to playing with their friends, being active, going to school and not necessarily focusing on world events as their parents are.  I mean, it is their parents’ job, right? Not there’s.  However, don’t be fooled.  With Co-VID-10, those of smaller stature have experienced their worlds as having been turned upside down these past few weeks.

First, they are home-bound.  They have limited access with their friends and only through electronic means.  Their only companions are their siblings which in reality can be quite skirmish and combative.  They are limited to their back yard, if they have one and it is not snowing and cold.  The news of the virus is on nearly 24/7 on many channels.  The resounding “Breaking News” numerates many times a day, and oftentimes parents are glued to the updates to prepare for the next surge of action.  But “what about the kids?”. 

Even when parents try to fake it, kids feel it in their bones when their parents feel anxious, frustrated, belabored or depressed.  That is the nature of kids.  Their connection to their parents is intuitive.  It can’t be seen or heard, but it is there.  They feel what their parents feel.  They may express it or react differently than their parents, but kids feel there is definitely something in the air! They watch their parents watch the news and the tension draws deeply inside them.  They watch their parents, the leaders of their world, struggle.

Kids also have their own reaction to the crisis besides dealing with their parents’ reaction.  They are out of their element.  Instead of playing or doing homework after school while supper is being made, they are at home all of the time.  They can no longer be distracted by reality.  They have nightmares or feel that zombies are living in their basement.  They may regress and act younger than they are.  They may be clingier, or cry more, or have more outbursts.  It’s their way of saying that they are not doing well.  Expressing their fears verbally is just not their nature at their young ages.

What do kids need?  Lots of love, and patience, and understanding, and reassurance, and a walk-through of their fears to help them better understand that things will eventually return to normal.  They need guidance and leadership.  They need a parent who will help them pick up the pieces and encourage them to be resilient, look at positives, and allow their parents to handle the burdens.  What about the kids?  Their mind is not yet developed and their understanding of this crisis is warped by the emotion of it all.  Be there for them.  Help them know that this will soon pass.  Give them hope.  Give them your attention.  Having kids stay at home could be a hidden blessing as they are around their most influential people to help them get through this crisis.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Psychotherapist

Hunkering Down with the Coronavirus

Here we are, hunkering down at home for a while.  Who would have thought?  How do we survive with each other during this time of crisis?  This in itself can be quite the stressor unless we practice some good strategies. 

Here are some of the mental health practices oftentimes reviewed in the literature that you can install in your home to make the time go smoother for everyone during the lockdown period.

Have a routine – Grab onto some structure.  Most of us are accustomed to some kind of structure, be it work duties at our jobs or school assignments at school.  Now, with chaos arising at the home-front, having a routine is a good thing to incorporate; sleeping and eating schedules, exercise times, social distancing contacts, designated chores or duties, selected fun time with new and creative activities, and school and work time slots with designated breaks.  It doesn’t have to be a prison for everyone, but it surely doesn’t have to be WWIII!  Studies have shown that having a routine can help reduce boredom, reduce anxiety and depression and lead to more healthy patterns of coping.  This format at home can then allow more energy to deal with other more important things that need to be tended to. 

Don’t stop exercising because the gym is no longer open – Physical exercise is synced with good mental health.  Get that heart pumping, build those muscles and make that body move.  Cramped quarters can be a problem, but figure out how you can make it work – even if you have to have a shared group exercise program in the living room, or if you can find some exercises that allow you to stay in one place.  It doesn’t take a genius.

Spend time in nature – even if it is through a TV channel, video or internet.  It is calming to your soul and it definitely helps your body relax.  There is much research that has found time in “green” and “blue” space is associated with a reduction in anxiety and depression as well as helps reduce the risk of chronic health issues.  Being out in the sunshine, breathing air outside (with good social distancing) is a good habit for both your body and mind.  In fact, some studies indicate that the chemicals released from the trees; phytoncides” can increase the immune cells that help keep the body healthy.

Re-arrange, clean out or organize your home – It makes you feel productive, you gain a sense of control over times of uncertainty, and gives you time to focus on something else besides the news flashes and all the media clips about the Corona-Virus. 

Give yourself some time to breathe, be quiet, and meditate.  It helps your body calm down, have better insight as to what is happening, and maintain a sense of internal control and confidence that this too shall pass.

Continue with your support team as you maintain social distancing – We are social creatures and need each other; that is how we were made.  Take time to reach out and connect.

Keep your empathy at the forefront – While experiencing the sense of being home-bound, you now can realize what so many people regularly experience throughout their much of their lives.  Reach out. – but don’t touch – at least not yet.    Empathy is a great experience that makes you feel good all over.  Doing acts of kindness and thinking of others before yourself all have huge mental health benefits.  It provides you with a sense of purpose.  It also helps you the opportunity to climb out of yourselves and give a bit of support and kindness to someone else that also needs it. 

Be thankful – Recognizing your blessings, being grateful, trusting in a spirit greater than yourself can be hugely beneficial to mental health.  Practicing thankfulness with others not only improves your mood, but those recipients of such grace.  Don’t judge.  Realize that we are all likely doing the best we can with what we got.  Sit back and relax.  We will get through this.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Psychotherapist