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.

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.

The Error of Making a Mistake

Making mistakes is not an easy thing, especially when it impacts others, or our conscience, or our ego.  Many find it very difficult to even acknowledge being wrong.  Instead, it may seem more pliable to make excuses, blame the circumstances onto things beyond our control, or point the finger at someone else that could be touted as being responsible, and as a replacement take the fall.   Admitting a mistake oftentimes takes courage to be sufficiently humble, especially if it requires a request for forgiveness.  The funny thing is, making mistakes is part of life.  Even for those that say their biggest mistake was admitting to one they really didn’t make. 

So, what is the error of making a mistake?  Is the problem actually making a mistake or not admitting to one?  For those that prefer to live under a false pretense that making a mistake is unacceptable, they may also be displaying an underlying dread that screams out-loud one’s fear of being considered weak and imperfect by others or themselves.  The fear of being judged or unaccepted by self/others compounds the need to deny their wrongs, maintain a sense of hidden pride, and resume a superficial façade that mistakes are signs of weakness.  As an anonymous author writes, “Making mistakes is better than faking perfections “

If mistake making is really part of being human and no one is perfect in their own right, maybe the biggest error of making a mistake is not seeing its value?  The denial of making mistakes truly is a short-gap measure to growth and learning.   What a loss it would be to make a mistake, without resolve; without guilt and remorse, without forgiveness and consolation, without recovery and change, and without the recognition that we all give and receive mistakes just as part of our human condition.  Acknowledging our mistakes keeps us honest, humble, more accepting, and allows us to breathe a contrite spirit amongst us. 

Making mistakes is obviously not the practical or desirable means towards growth.  We truly do not intentionally go about seeking a means to make mistakes.  However, acknowledging them surely gives us the opportunity to move forward if we allow it. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW