ESSENTIAL CAREGIVER PROGRAM – JULY 24, 2020 UPDATE

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

We are pleased to announce that we are creating a new program called Essential Caregiver – in accordance with guidelines released from Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Our goal through this program is to help our residents who are missing care previously provided by a loved one or outside caregiver prior to the visitor restrictions required by state and federal guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy follows 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.

Below are some of the criteria we will use as we evaluate and designate Essential Caregivers in our settings:

  • Essential Caregivers will be determined based on consultation/assessment with our interdisciplinary team.  Residents will be consulted about their wishes to help determine whom to designate as an Essential Caregiver.
  • Essential Caregivers will be actively screened for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering the building and must wear all necessary personal protective equipment while in the building. They must also perform frequent hand hygiene and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet with staff and other residents while in our building.
  • Essential Caregivers will limit their movement in our building, providing care and support in their loved ones’ room or a designated space in our building.
  • Essential Caregivers must inform us if they develop a fever or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of a visit to a resident.

With this new guidance, it is important to know that Essential Caregivers cannot take a resident out into the community except for essential medical appointments and must not visit a resident during a resident’s 14-day quarantine and must not visit when a resident is positive for COVID-19 or symptomatic, unless the visit is for compassionate care.  Please know we do retain the right to restrict or revoke Essential Care status if the designated person fails to follow our established policies and protocols. 

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.

We recognize the concern you may have that not everyone will be able to serve as an Essential Family Caregiver. We also deeply feel the desire of our residents and their loved ones to be connected in a more meaningful way.

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

Michelle Hartmann, our Social Services Director, will be the main contact for the Essential Care Program.  Michelle can be reached at 218-338-1008.

Sincerely,

Tim Kelly

Administrator

St. William’s Living Center

Kicking the Dog during the COVID-19

As the Corona virus continues, many of us struggle with sporadic, unwanted and unruly emotions that we don’t know how to deal with.   Most everyone doesn’t like to feel difficult emotions, and without good emotional management and a common-sense direction to file these feelings, emotions oftentimes relieve themselves in unhealthy ways through the use of volatility and aggression as well as the use of defense mechanisms, or unconscious ways individuals use to protect themselves from the intensity of these emotions. 

There are many ways our emotions can get us into trouble if not tended to, and the one emotion that speaks the loudest and is more socially acceptable these days, is anger.  For example, as cursing seems to be more of an accurate depiction of what one feels inside, it seems to be deemed as more acceptable.  Also, have you noticed more recently that Minnesota Nice is harder to come by, with sharper tongues, increased irritability, explosive tempers, elevated resentments, or more frequent complaints?  And, then there are those that are inspired to blow their gaskets, take on threatening swipes, roar at others, or get into another’s face after continued illustrations of aggression blasted in the TV news reports.  The intensity of emotion is ineffective and consequential.  In fact, managing the emotion of anger is a key to resolving the issues that may have brought on anger in the first place. 

And, then there is the type or expression of anger that contributes to the toll an emotion holds, despite its intensity.   Defense mechanisms are commonly used to deal with the emotion sideways, usually to protect oneself from internal anxiety or conflict.  Usually, anger takes on two common defenses:  Blaming others or situations directly without looking back at numero-uno; or displaced or projected anger in which one transfers the blame onto someone or something else that is really not directly involved.  Both expressions are damaging and give rise to increased animosity and deeper wounds.   However, at least with direct blame, one is able to defend or respond accordingly.  With displaced anger, the source of one’s frustrations are not clear or hard to directly impact, and thus seeking someone or something else less threatening is oftentimes a win if they can capture a vulnerable side-step as a replacement target.  A good example of displaced anger is… “kicking the dog” after a hard day’s work; a sad but heinous occurrence most dare not confess because of the absurdity of it all.

Blaming others or using displaced anger is a cowards’ way out.  There is no identified responsibility of self.  Both do damage, and the effects are lingering.  Displaced anger is unfair.  It gives rise to the wrong opponent.  Unfortunately, “Kicking a dog when it’s down” happens more than anyone wants to admit.  Yes, dogs can be annoying at times, especially when one is spent from the day.  However, when anger is at the door seething for a reason to blow, the dog, by its very nature, is at risk.   An unwelcomed greeting with continual licks, being underfoot, or demanding a head pat or a hug can indeed trigger oneself to go over the edge.  As the harsh words are expelled and the foot boots the dog, there may be a smitten of release only to later find Man’s Best Friend bruised and retreated, and guilt spawning.  

If we are willing to be afront to a dog, how much easier is it to displace anger onto family members or friends who likely can’t find reprieve because of being homebound from the pandemic? How about those we work with or spend our time with?  How much anger can be spent without some sort of consequence?  We need to learn how to manage our emotions and reactions, and know what to do to deal with them as we cope with ourselves during the stressors of COVID-19…. And for goodness sakes, don’t kick the dog!  

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Out-patient psychotherapist

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

Our Physical Therapy Clinic is Open!

Did you have to give up your regular physical therapy visits because of COVID-19? Or have you sustained a new injury that needs more attention to heal?

Aches, pains, and other physical ailments don’t go away because there’s a global pandemic. If you need physical therapy, we have good news for you. The physical therapy clinic at St. William’s Living Center is open!

Here’s what you need to know about physical therapy and the precautions we’re taking to keep you safe during the pandemic.

Do You Need Physical Therapy?

Mobility issues are caused by many things including arthritis, falling, overuse, and surgery. They can happen suddenly or may evolve over time. 

Physical therapy can help restore range of motion in stiff and sore joints through stretching and other exercises. These same exercises can make muscles stronger and more supportive. The stronger your muscles, the less likely you’ll re-injure yourself.

Therapy is also great for those recovering from surgery. Surgery often means a prolonged period of bed rest, which can cause the rest of your bones and muscles to weaken. Physical therapy can get you back on your feet again with less downtime and less pain after surgery.

If you suffer from any type of mobility issue, or are experiencing pain through regular movement, physical therapy might be just what you need.

Therapy Options

At St. William’s, we have several options to administer physical therapy treatment. Traditional or in-clinic treatment is ideal for those who have sustained a recent injury or had recent surgery. This is where you’ll receive the hands-on treatment you need in the first few days after the event. 

In-clinic treatment is also ideal for those who need a higher level of assistance during physical therapy sessions. This includes patients who are less steady on their feet or prone to falling. 

Another option is a virtual or telehealth session. If you have limited access to transportation, this is a great option for you. It allows you to visit with a physical therapist and learn practical exercises that you can do in the comfort of your home.

Also, if you’re uneasy about venturing out in public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a telehealth session is a great option. You’ll receive the treatment you need while maintaining social distance.

For those patients who are somewhere in the middle between telehealth and in-clinic visits, our therapists can create a personalized program that’s a hybrid of the two options. You can come in for certain therapies and work with your therapist to continue your program at home while checking in through virtual visits.   

Safety Precautions at SWLC Physical Therapy Clinic

We’ve taken extra precautions during this pandemic to ensure the safety of our patients, residents, and staff members. 

Upon entering the clinic, a staff member screens you by taking your temperature. Anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees will be asked to leave and contact their doctor. 

Then, you’ll answer a series of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms to ensure you are not carrying the virus. Nobody who exhibits symptoms will be allowed into the St. William’s facility, and that includes staff members. If you do feel like you have any symptoms, we ask you to reschedule your therapy appointment and call your doctor.

All physical therapy patients and therapists wear surgical masks and eye protection during treatment sessions. Staff sanitizes therapy equipment after every patient. In addition, nursing home residents do not share the therapy facility with out-patient clients so you’ll have no worries about picking up the virus from others. 

Are you ready to get back on your feet? Contact us today to make your appointment at St. William’s physical therapy clinic!

How Are Our Children Doing?

Many adults know what it feels like to be traumatized as a child because they have experienced it themselves while growing up, be it tornados or floods, accidents, death of a close family member or friend, poverty, peer teasing, or difficulties at home.  However, in our lifetime, most of us have not experienced a world-wide trauma, like a pandemic or world war.

World-wide events are different than more localized traumas as there is some sense of normalcy still standing outside the disaster.  However, when the whole world is dealing with a pandemic, it is hard to find the anchor.   There is no knowledge as to where the COVID-19 will take us, how bad it will get and how long it will last.  Most of what we do know is that there have been pandemics in the past and we have survived them.  It is at least a reference point.   

How do we help our children if the adults in the room aren’t able to gain perspective themselves on how to move forward?  Even though most of us adults are struggling with heightened anxiety and fear ourselves about the pandemic, that dread is quickly infiltrated to our children.  Overall, children are mostly vulnerable as their developing brains are easily overwhelmed with raw emotions of which a filter has not yet emerged.  They haven’t gained a perspective as to how to survive, and without logic or guidance, children can easily become prey to their own explosive emotions and the trauma itself is absorbed into the fabric of their own development, with lifelong influences.  

Nearly 5 months in and children have already experienced the surge of emotion that comes with traumas.  It can take the form of anger, irritability, clinginess, sleeping difficulties and nightmares, and isolation. Along with life or death worries and fears, their lives have also been disrupted with no school, limited contact with their friends and extended families, the scarcity of activities they have become accustomed to, their parents’ own struggles with increased demands, the change of structure at home with parents having fluctuating work schedules and environments, budgeting changes, a lack of structure and much less stimulation than their previous life before COVID-19.  Children need to know that despite the trauma, a part of their lives are still indeed normal, and life goes on.  Children need their parents or guided adults to help them realize that their whole world isn’t caving in. 

Parents need to manage their own stressors so that they can be good role models for their children.  Parents need to be perceptive to their children’s needs and avail themselves accordingly.  Parents need to give their children the love and attention they need to help them find ways to express themselves and direct their fears and anxieties to a level that they can manage.  Parents need to be honest with their children, explaining what is happening in a way that they can understand, even if they are young.     Parents need to provide structure and routines to their days so that their children can find some anchor.  Parents need to find a sense of “normalcy”, so that their children can grasp it as well.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Can Garage-Saling Turn you into a Hoarder?

Shopping at garage sales is a lot of fun; especially when you are able to accumulate things you’ve “always wanted”, especially at a good price. Garage saling can also take on a life of its own. Usually, it is a time for women to get together, have coffee or brunch and do something light-hearted and casual on a Friday or Saturday morning.  Cruising the streets for sale signs, dropping in for a look, putzing around, bartering and then leaving with an armful of good stuff and pocket change only to go at it for another round. 

As these treasures accumulate and as the years go by, it is fairly common to find a buyer in their packed home where there is no more room to spare.  It is a dilemma for sure, but then again garage sale buyers usually beget garage sale sellers!  Buying and selling is the draw, and the social get-togethers remain steadfast; unless of course buying without selling becomes a stickler.   

Unfortunately, there are indeed some who just cannot part from all those treasures they have collected throughout the years; and as the problem merges further, they find themselves in cramped living conditions with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter.  Countertops, book cases, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways, and all other surfaces are piled high and can fall in domino fashion with a simple nudge.  And then, if there still isn’t room, there is always the garage, storage units or even stacks of stuff piled outside. 

Individuals with a Hoarding Disorder have a very difficult time discarding their possessions because of their belief that they need to save.  Even thinking of parting with their items brings them significant stress and anxiety, regardless of the actual value of the items.  Common characteristics for those that hoard have difficulty planning, organizing, and making decisions, procrastinate and avoid ways to deal with arising issues, and struggle with getting rid of things or wasting anything that could be used later.  They also tend to have an emotional connection with the objects collected, reminding them of previous times they felt happier or safer.  There are treatment efforts available to reduce hoarding behavior and one finds they have grown out of their own home.  However, many also can learn to stop and take action to reduce the clutter once they realize the problem.  Keep garage saling fun by managing its potential aftermath!

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

OVER-SENSITIVITY TO REJECTION CAN ACTUALLY CREATE REJECTION BY OTHERS

Are you one of those oversensitive souls that take things too personally and oftentimes feel attacked when the other person didn’t intend to hurt you?  Possibly, they were just giving you feedback or making suggestions to you, and you took it to heart.  Or, maybe they actually were confronting you or even criticizing something that you were doing, and you felt like you melted into a puddle on the floor, feeling worthless.  Maybe you search for facial expressions or gestures that might validate others’ dislike towards you, because you already know inside that they don’t care for you or that you’ve disappointed them.   Maybe, you over-analyze even a huff, or reading into getting no responses from others as reinforcing your belief that you don’t matter to them.  If you struggle with being over-sensitive to rejection, are you also your own worst enemy?   Does your inside voice rattle off a plethora of negative statements about yourself, questioning your own self-worth?  Your strong yearning to be cared about and approved by others may actually be an attempt to overcompensate for the lack of support you give yourself. 

Oftentimes, those that are over-sensitive to rejection have experienced significant rejection in the past, although there are some who have more of a biological propensity to being over-sensitive to rejection.  Possibly, they have received strong parental criticism or verbal and/or physical abuse and neglect as a child.  Others may have been victimized by significant bullying and negative peer relationships, and with continual taunting and ridicule, grew up believing that they were “no good”.  Oftentimes, those that have experienced significant rejection, also anticipate that they will continue to be rejected or criticized.  This isn’t about feeling bad about making mistakes.  It is only about self-rejection.

Unfortunately, those who remain oversensitive to rejection and continue doubting themselves oftentimes become over-dependent on others for validation and support.  As the quality or equality of the relationship swings the pendulum to a lopsided relationship, partners oftentimes feel they are “walking on eggs” and have to be careful how they approach sensitive subjects ,or they may puppet or connive the sensitive person towards being controlled by them with the use of criticism and condemnation if not followed.  Regardless, the relationship is impacted by one struggling with an oversensitivity to rejection. 

For many, it is not easy to learn not to be self-rejecting.  It’s usually a habit developed over a lifetime.  However, it may be worth the battle to go inside and fight those invisible tigers.  With research suggesting that we can change the hard drive in our brains by how we think, it seems like a worthwhile pursuit. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Does Worry Keep the Sleep Fairy Away?

Worry is a definite fiend that robs many people from their normal sleeping schedule.  In fact, researchers have found that 25% of adults say their worries keep them tossing and turning at night.  Apparently, there is a direct link between fretting during the day-time and sleep disturbance at night. 

Of course, all of us worry from time to time.  However, worrying becomes the problem in and of itself when we battle at night trying to sleep, or we can’t concentrate the next day.  Not being able to sleep can take its toll on our bodies and our emotion, even if worrying isn’t part of the story.  Here are some suggestions to keep worrying at bay when it is excessive or not helpful:

  1. Keep a pad and pencil near the bed to jot down reminders of what to do if your worrying is focused on remembering to get tasks done.  That way, it’s off your mind and you can “let go” of it ‘til the next day.
  2. Try to separate out the difference between habitual worrying and productive worrying.  Excessive worrying as a past time is usually a hindrance and causes all sorts of side effects, such as sleeping problems, concentration problems, and irritability, Become aware of when you are worrying, and consciously decide if that is what you want to continue to do with your time. 
  3. Choose to “let go” of what you cannot control, and focus instead on those matters you can do something about.
  4. If you choose to worry, focus on what you are worrying about exclusively.  It is apparent that Worry is knocking on your door for a reason or two.  What are those reasons?  What are the issues you need to spend time resolving?  Give your attention to the matter and process out ways to problem-solve so that Worry can go back to where it came and the issue can be handled the best you know at the time.  After reviewing the issue, you may choose that although the issue didn’t get resolved, worrying about it doesn’t bring it to resolution either, and revisiting it later may be the best course of action
  5. Realize that worrying can be unquenchable, with racing thoughts, ruminations, obsessive tendencies and the continual “what if’s” building to a fearful and anxious character that struggles with discovering the opposite, relaxation or finding joy the moment. 
  6. Practicing relaxation efforts can also help break up worrying episodes, such as paying attention to and managing your breath or heart rate, visualizing and detailing good memories, identifying enjoyable interests and practicing distraction from useless worrying, keep your focus on the big picture, and above all, be aware when you are worrying and decipher if that is distracting yourself from useless worrying or helpful in resolving things. 

If you experience anxiety that is not better managed with these suggestions and it impacts your health or your life satisfaction, you should consider seeking professional help.  There is a good chance that psychotherapy and/or medications can help put your worries down, allowing the sleep fairy to return again, splashing fairy dust onto you, and singing bedtime songs as you begin your sleeping journey through the night.

Claudia Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

The Wise Man Seeks Happiness, Regardless of the Condition Life Happens to Offer

First of all, what really is Happiness:  According to Webster, it can mean lots of things:  wealth, self-gratification, exhilaration, bliss, etc.  For our sake, we will define happiness as contentedness, pleasurable satisfaction, and one which is peaceful and rests without desires.  According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”.          

According to The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, it is not “self-centered” to work at being happy.  When we feel happy, we feel more light-hearted and are more able to eliminate the bad feelings or actions we oftentimes get stuck in, such as over-eating, drinking, gossiping, being irritable, being uninterested in others, being selfish and wanting our way, and doubting that happiness is possible.

If we work very hard to be happy, and mind you, it takes very hard work to be happy in this world, we may feel right and good, and more content in the midst of our battles.

So, how do I get there?  Here are some ideas:

  • Wish to be happy, and challenge those thoughts that guard your efforts; Is the glass full or empty?  If I think I’m happier, I am happier
  • Fight the tigers of negative thought patterns.  Hurdles are easier to swallow than big, monstrous, unpassable mountains
  • Focus on what is good and right.  Be lighthearted, generous, creative, kind, encouraging and helpful
  • Remember in detail the good memories of yesterday
  • Meditate on the good characteristics of others.  We all have an angel and devil on our shoulders. Seek the angel – in you and in others.  The one, who gets the most attention, wins.
  • Realize that we all make mistakes, and being fair usually ends with a  positive outcome
  • Recognize the good experiences you are having right now that you would normally not spot
  • Make other people happy
  • Practice laughing
  • Realize that the years are short
  • Put yourself in control of your attitude 
  • Set your goal on what is meaningful and with purpose

Of course, Happiness does not take the reality out of living.  We still go through many hardships; loved one’s passing, family conflicts, mental illness, poverty, cold wars, endless political battles, illness, and so on.  Life is not easy.  We need to solve our problems and not pretend they don’t exist.  We need to have hope that this too shall pass.

Happiness is an attitude.  It is a resolution. It is a decision.  It is a life-long goal or path we can take so that we are better equipped to deal with the rough spots of the many troubles we face each today.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. William’s Living Center Outdoor Visitation Policy:

Visitors should call activity department at 218-338-1010 to schedule an appointment.  Appointments must be scheduled for outdoor visits.  If activity staff are not available, visitors should leave a message and staff will return the phone call.  Families are encouraged to give as much advance notice for staff and residents to prepare for the visit.  Visits will be scheduled in half hour time slots, which will allow for a 20-minute visit.  This will allow staff time to assist residents to get to and from their assigned visit.  Longer visits will be taken into consideration for special circumstances.  Visitation hours are based on staff availability. 

Current COVID-19 positive residents, residents with COVID-19 signs or symptoms, and residents in a 14-day quarantine or observation period are not eligible for outside visits.

One staff person should be assigned to each resident for the duration of the visit.  Staff should maintain visual observation but provide as much distance as necessary to allow for privacy of the visit conversation.

Visitors must be screened by staff prior to the visit.  Staff should use the visitor log to gather contact information and document screening questions.  Temperatures of visitors must be taken.  Any visitor with a temperature of 100 or greater or any of the following symptoms will be asked to leave.  Screening questions include:

  • In the last 14 days, has had contact with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID19, or under investigation for COVID-19, or are ill with respiratory illness.
  • Do you have a new fever (100 F or higher) or the sense of having a fever?
  • Do you have a new cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new shortness of breath that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have a new sore throat that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
  • Do you have new muscle aches that you cannot attribute to anther health condition or that may have been caused by a specific activity (such as physical exercise)?   

Residents and visitors must wear a mask or other face covering during the visit, as tolerated and must support social distancing of at least 6 feet between the visitor and resident.  If visitors do not have a mask, a cloth mask will be provided by the facility to use during the visit.

Due to the risk of exposure, holding hands, hugging, kissing, or other physical contact is not allowed during family visits.  Visitors under age 12 years must be in the control of adults who bring them and must also comply with social distancing requirements.  Pets must be under the control of the visitor bringing them in.

SWLC will provide alcohol-based hand rub to persons visiting residents and staff will provide verbal reminders of correct use.

Weather: Visits should occur only on days when there are no weather warnings that would put either the visitor or resident at risk.

St. William’s Living Center retains the right to deny outdoor visitation to specific residents only if they believe:

1. Circumstances pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to the facility because the resident or visitor does not comply with infection control guidance, or

2. The resident or visitor is at risk of abuse/harm.