LTC Programming at Kirkwood Manor

By Heidi Gulley, PTA/DOR, Kirkwood Manor, New Braunfels, TX
At Kirkwood Manor, we have diverse and robust LTC programming. We believe in individualizing treatment to fit patient-specific needs to improve quality of life. We also tap into the many talents and tools that come with a large rehab staff. We focus on LTC programming to improve the quality of life of our LTC residents, and during our rehab meetings, we discuss new ideas and areas that therapists are passionate about and ways to implement those ideas.

One of our programs is a lymphedema program that is headed up by one of our PTs, Francisco Yap. He has had great success in this area and has greatly improved the quality of life of our residents who benefit from this program. (photo)

Another LTC program that we are also having great success in is revamping our Abilities Care program, updating and ensuring all residents in the facility have an updated life storyboard. This helps greatly with our dementia patients and patients who are more behaviorally challenging. It allows us to reach the patients who never get out of bed and build rapport with them, and then we all celebrate our success stories when we make breakthroughs.

It is a really cool thing to know that we get to be a huge part of this — that the resident who yells and never gets out of bed is now going to activities and having meaningful interactions with others, and that the resident who was unable to use their arms or legs effectively due to edema is now able to function more effectively.

Workout to Win

By Mark Walker, PT, CEEE/DOR, Orem Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing, Orem, UT
Each week, our residents are asked if they want to participate in a home exercise program prescribed by the Therapy department. These are in-room exercises with handouts provided by one of our physical, occupational, or speech therapists. If a resident chooses to participate in the program, they are given a punch card that helps them and us track if they completed their daily exercises. When the full punch card is completed, it is then entered into a bimonthly drawing for one of our prizes (massage pillow, water bottle, cup holder, coloring pencils, coloring book, Orem Rehab swag, etc.)

Each raffle drawing is done in the gym every other week, and we are seeing the buzz getting around. Last week, we had 17 participants from our residents here at Orem. This isn’t a program run by the therapist, so there is no impact on productivity or efficiency. Our therapy aides run this, and it gives them a program to take ownership over. We are seeing some huge success as residents look forward to their daily workouts. The staff is helping the residents complete their workouts and are letting us know when they have done so. Each resident who enters a completed punch card into the raffle is given either a chip, a Gatorade, or a treat, so everyone is a winner bimonthly. The cost is minimal, and we are even starting to see staff/families donate prizes for the raffle. It’s a fun way to get our residents engaged in exercise and improve their quality of life.

Congratulations to Our Newest SPARC Winner!

Kelly Janak, PT Student, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Graduation Date: August 2023

Read her winning Essay below:

Although health is typically viewed in a more physical sense, I have come to recognize and appreciate the more cognitive-emotional aspects as well. Many times, patients who have suffered an injury or are coping with life-changing diagnoses might experience a loss of control. One of the things that drew me to physical therapy is that it is a profession with the goal of empowering patients. Unlike other professions that beg patient cooperation while treatments are passively applied to the patient during the healing process, physical therapy teaches patients to heal themselves through a more active role. However, I have learned that without patient investment, physical therapy treatment is not as effective. Time engaged in therapy during the treatment session alone is not enough to provide a substantial impact. The patient must spend time training outside of the treatment sessions, otherwise the positive effect of physical therapy may grow stagnant. Without patient buy in and commitment, even the most ideal treatment plans will lack effectiveness. The patient must be motivated to take an active role in their health and to continue to train outside of appointments. Truly a large part of therapy involves establishing a therapeutic alliance with the patient and inspiring their engagement in the healing process. Although it’s undeniable that my education and training have expanded my knowledge and understanding of how to identify and treat patients with different diagnoses, it has also expanded my ability to motivate my patients, my understanding of how to relate to my patients, and willingness to seek the most effective treatments for each individual.

As I have learned more about the multitude of benefits that physical therapy can provide, I have gained a variety of reasons to support engagement in physical therapy. If a patient can understand the vast benefits of physical therapy, such as the improvements in health, functionality, longevity, and emotional well-being that exercise can provide, then they are much more likely to not only be driven to be engaged and compliant in their therapy experience, but also enjoy it and continue to exercise after discharge from physical therapy. It is also important to keep therapy exercises salient to the patient. Not everyone enjoys doing squats, bicep curls and abdominal crunches. For individuals who don’t enjoy these exercises, exercise can seem tedious and unappealing. But using creativity to create “non-conventional” exercises that appeals more to the patient’s personal interests can be more exciting. If the patient is doing treatment that directly relates to their hobbies, interests, and personal goals, they are much more likely to enjoy their experiences in physical therapy, which will make them more likely to do the work involved in order to accomplish the goals of their physical therapy program. For example, if the patient really enjoys gardening, they can be prescribed exercises pertaining to gardening so that the patient can be engaged in exercises that are meaningful to them and directly observe the correlation of their dedication to their treatments and their increased ability to engage in their activities that are important to them at a higher capability. I hope to provide a positive benefit to my patients in the form of helping them to see that their hard work can pay off in ways that are meaningful to their individual lives so that they can view exercise as something that is empowering rather than menial. I hope to not only improve their therapy experience but drive them to continue to lead a healthy lifestyle even after discharge as they strive for continued improvement in functional ability through motivation derived from things they love to do.

Patients will not be motivated by health care professionals that they do not trust. As part of the nature of the career, physical therapists spend much more time with patients than their counterparts from other health professions. This provides a substantial opportunity to either build a great therapeutic alliance, or tear it down. In pursuit of the first, I have learned that often the best way to establish patient trust is through understanding and openness. According to evidence, patients trust healthcare providers who they believe truly have the patient’s best interests at heart. However, in the hustle and bustle and time restraints of daily work life as a physical therapist, it can sometimes be difficult to take the time to establish an actual relationship with patients. In a career that specializes in people, it can become an unfortunate consequence to lose recognition of the sense of humanity that patients possess. But I think that if I continue to value each individual and recognize their inherent worth, I can maintain a recognition of the dignity that each human being possesses without losing sight of that in burnout. I will strive to always show compassion and patience and respect to each of my patients. Beyond that, I hope to continue to try to understand my patients on a deep level by trying to make a meaningful connection and by listening. My work with diverse populations has further affirmed the fact that every individual is unique and I can only know and understand each person and their needs by actively learning to understand them. I will also strive to maintain a personal sense of openness, honesty, and humility to further foster a healthy relationship. I hope that establishing authentic relationships with my patients will not only help them become more engaged in physical therapy and make the experience more enjoyable for them, but also encourage them to make more meaningful relationships with other individuals.

Lastly, and more obviously, it is important to seek out applicable current evidence-based practice and be in constant pursuit of personal growth within my role. Even with the best intentions, if I am not effective at my job, I will not be a very good physical therapist. Also, being an adept physical therapist can help with encourage patient investment in physical therapy. Patients will have a greater acceptance of physical therapy if they can witness the benefits that are provided from the treatments firsthand. Seeing as physical therapy is a relatively new profession which is constantly evolving, it is imperative to keep up with evidence-based practice by researching new treatment strategies that will be effective to implement in my patient population every day and to encourage co-workers to do the same. In order to best serve my patients, I recognize that it is my duty to be well-informed on effective treatment strategies that will benefit my patients and adjust my practices to develop alongside current research in order to ascertain that my treatments are effective for my patients. Along with this, I aspire to always be improving my clinical skills and knowledge. I will pursue increased proficiency in the realm of physical therapy so that I can develop into a professional who can provide the greatest benefit to my patients. I understand that they are trusting me to guide them towards better health and capability and I want to honor that by continuously improving my ability to deliver great service to my patients. I hope to become shrewder in identifying potential diagnoses and practices that might not be healthy for my patients and become more proficient on educating them on methods to improve their health. I hope to be successful in empowering them to lead a healthier life, even after they have finished with physical therapy so that they can be more free from the constraints and complications of poor health. By improving my knowledge and skills, I hope to effectively help them not only to return to their baseline health, but inspire them to continue to rise to a higher state of health so that they can enjoy their lives to a higher degree.
Through my devotion to patient motivation, relationship, and evidence-based practice and personal development, I hope to spark my patients to be empowered to take control of their own health, rather than maintain a passive role. I wish for them to be driven to lead a more healthy and full life in whatever capacity is available to them, so that they can enjoy the benefits in functionality, energy, emotion, and well-being. I hope to encourage them to see healthy living and improved function not as an unattainable goal or as undesirable work, but as a natural and enjoyable part of their everyday life.

Celebrating Multicultural Diversity

By Tara Meyerpeter, OT, DOR, Keystone Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation, Omaha, NE
America’s aging population continues to increase in numbers as well as cultural diversity. Baby boomers of all races and nationalities are entering our senior living communities. It is important to embrace cultural diversity and accept the different customs that contribute to the make-up. As the make-up of seniors changes, front-line staff are provided the opportunity to embrace new cultures and celebrate multicultural diversity.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Create an occupational profile to obtain pertinent information regarding ethnicity and cultural background following development of rapport and trust.
  • Identify ways to incorporate preferences into treatment sessions (such as recognition of prayer practices, cultural preference/practices, and routines).
  • Provide your staff with education to recognize and accommodate the unique needs that accompany different cultures.
  • Provide activities and programs that offer seniors the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures such as a multi-cultural showcase.
  • Provide interpreters for those who need it, especially in medical situations.
  • Enable the use of interpersonal skills to demonstrate intentional respect for resident’s cultures.
  • Offer residents with opportunities to express cultural heritage and to learn about cultural identities of others.

Keystone Ridge celebrates diversity in a multitude of ways. Recently, our OT Woroud (Rosie) Hudson assisted in creating a multicultural diversity group with our residents. Each week for four weeks in the month of August, residents worked on their project to display at our Multicultural Showcase. The residents met every Tuesday for approximately 30 to 45 minutes in preparation for the final presentation. The residents were provided with the level of cognitive assistance needed to fully engage and become immersed in research. Research included reading and locating pertinent information in printed article form and on the internet, locating images to add to posters, and cutting/pasting and organizing printed information on a tri-fold poster to represent countries. Most residents chose countries from which they had ancestry, while others chose countries related to personal interests. Each session, residents reported the history of their country, geography, traditional food and attire, art/music, and shared past experiences. They determined what artifact would be showcased to represent their country, whether it be food, attire, music, or a video displaying their country.

These activities allowed residents to take pride in their accomplishments and promoted an overall sense of both independence and interdependence, which enhanced their quality of life which enhanced QOL. The residents were excited and looked forward to attending the next session/workshop to continue to work on the final project. Residents were motivated to get out of bed and attend workshops during program, which was a motivating factor to increase out-of-bed and out-of-room activity to decrease the risk of excess disability and sensory deprivation. The most powerful benefit accomplished from this program would be the reminiscing-building opportunities developed during the sessions and at final showcase. Residents were able to tap into long-term memories of past experiences related to culture and past traditions and enjoyed sharing past experiences with others.

Countries exhibited included: Italy, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Jordan, and Lebanon.

From NBCOT News Release: Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Wins Prestigious NBCOT Impact Award

Congratulations Patty Fantauzzo, CTO/COTA/L, TPM, Julia Temple, Englewood, CO

Gaithersburg, MD: The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT®) announces Patricia “Patty” Fantauzzo, COTA/L, a certified occupational therapy assistant from Castle Rock, CO, has won the 2022 NBCOT Impact Award. This award recognizes certified occupational therapy (OT) practitioners who demonstrate exceptional professional commitment through their dedication, hard work, and outstanding OT skills to improve their clients’ overall life satisfaction.

Patty received the NBCOT Impact Award because of her dedication to providing services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Patty’s colleague Malissa Sanchez, COTA/L, nominated her for the award. At Julia Temple Healthcare, Patty created a therapy program that uses the Abilities Care Approach to ensure long-term care residents who have Alzheimer’s and dementia progress through the disease process with dignity and comfort while maintaining their highest practicable level of cognitive and physical function. Prior to Patty’s involvement, long-term care residents with cognitive impairments at Julia Temple were less likely to receive skilled therapy services. Patty’s approach to providing care is to focus on the residents’ remaining abilities instead of their deficits and to consider what the resident can do or may do based on their preferences. Patty’s team of therapists embraced this philosophy and as a result, they completely transformed the therapy department and the facility as a whole. Through this approach, therapists and physicians also have a better understanding of each resident’s individual abilities and needs, which has enabled them to interact with residents in a more meaningful way. Several program outcomes can be partly traced back to Patty’s work, including a reduction in resident altercations, increased resident independence with certain tasks, and fewer prescriptions for psychotropic medications.

Patty earned her national OT certification in 1995. She is the Therapy Program Manager and Chief Therapy Officer (our highest designation for a Therapy Leader) at Julia Temple Healthcare in Colorado. Patty has shared her knowledge on dementia programming at Colorado Occupational Therapy Association’s annual conference and to dementia support groups and practitioners at Julia Temple. She also assisted two sister facilities in introducing dementia programming to their long-term care services. Patty has received several awards for her work, including the Agatha Jackson COTA Award of Excellence from the Colorado Occupational Therapy Association and the COTA of the Year award from the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association.

For more information about the NBCOT Impact Award, visit

Ceramic Arts at Hurricane Health

Submitted by Asa Gardine, Sunstone Therapy Resource, Utah
Hurricane Health & Rehab’s therapy department is always looking for great ideas for new group treatments that are both engaging AND relevant to our patients. Thankfully, we have a passionate team member, Shannon O’Connor, who used her resources and asked her friend, Brandon Berrett, who owns The Creative Cure, a ceramic studio in St. George that provides art therapeutic services to the community, if he would be able to help with a ceramics group. Brandon also teaches ceramics at a local high school, so together Shannon, Brandon, and four of his high school students brought ceramic arts to Hurricane Health and Rehab for a massively successful group treatment.

A total of 14 patients participated, and each had their own pottery wheel and were able to receive instruction. Every patient was smiling ear to ear along with their therapists and instructors. This was a monumental effort to pull off, and the positive memories of that day are still felt by the residents who are proud of their creations of art and their expressions of themselves.

Brandon is currently providing the color for the pottery and the kiln firing and will be returning their custom pieces to them soon!

Introducing the Outpatient Team at Victoria Care, Ventura, CA

Submitted by Aimee Bhatia, MSOTR/L, PAM, CTO, NCI Therapy Resource, California
Victoria Care Center was the first building in NCI to crack into the world of outpatient by building programming at our now Pennant partners at the Lexington Assisted Living facility. The start was not easy despite being partners, but the impact that has been made and the programming that has been established is remarkable. The Lexington went through a rough patch with changes in leadership, but an administrator recently transitioned back into the role, allowing for some positive changes. Prior to this change, residents were unhappy. The facility was going through a change in leadership, and with the changes came many adjustments to the team. Therapy stepped in to make an impact on many aspects of the residents’ quality of life.

Here are just a few things that Shannon Murphy, PT; Stephanie Nowlin, COTA; and Maria Lebon, Rehab Aide took on to help the facility stabilize:

  • Assisting residents in making doctors’ appointments
  • Updating families regularly on therapy progress and the need for DME
  • Facilitating admissions to Victoria Care Center when their residents were hospitalized
  • Helping residents with banking struggles
  • Assisting a resident with care for his blind and deaf dog, who has been adopted as the therapy mascot
  • Adopting a resident’s cat when she had to relocate to be closer to family and providing all necessary care to improve its wellness
  • Welcoming the residents into their rehab family

The amount of support, the ability to thrive, and the increased satisfaction made a significant difference in the lives of the residents. They have created an environment in the ALF where the residents often seek the therapists out just to socialize a little and many have formed friendships. . This is a true example of our organization’s culture and how invaluable it is to embrace. These three members of Victoria’s therapy team have made such an impact on a community that simply would not be the same without them. . Thank you Shannon, Stephanie, and Maria for the work you do, for the impact you make, and for constantly finding meaningful ways to impact the patients we care for every day. This is a true example of loving what you do, finding a way to make positive changes amongst hardship, and being dedicated to a valuable mission.

Behind the Scenes Super Star: Soon Burnam

Submitted by Sacchin Bhatia, Therapy Resource
Soon Burnam is the Director of Licensing and Regulatory Services and has been with Ensign Services since 2003! She has always been a great partner to therapy and has helped support our entrepreneurial spirit by helping navigate the right path for exploring these new ideas. She lives our CAPLICO values in all aspects of her work and is a mentor to all who come in contact with her. She expresses Passion for learning as her favorite core value and feels she is always growing and learning.

On a more personal note, Soon was born in 1971 in Seoul, South Korea. She grew up in Irvine, Orange county and still calls Irvine home. She and her husband Tom, have four children aged 19, 17, 15 and 13. They have grown up coming to the Service Center since early childhood. When they were younger, they loved helping with some of the behind the scenes duties such as the scanning or photocopying. They too have been living and learning CAPLICO throughout their lives. Soon enjoys Italian food and loves “good ol’ southern comfort food.” While she is not into sports, after spending time with me, she’s now a Lakers fan (I convinced her 😊). Soon loves to travel and some of her favorite destinations have been Spain and Ireland. Her favorite movies are Top Gun, Indiana Jones, Breakfast club and anything from the 80’s. Her hobbies include reading, travel, crafts and spending as much time as possible with her kids. We are so grateful to call Soon our partner and friend. Thank you for all you do for us, Soon Burnam!

Looking for Excellence in Dementia Care?

Check out some of our Summit Facilities
Submitted by Elyse Matson, MA CCC-SLP Resource
On a few recent visits to facilities in Summit, we saw some amazing programming!

In Pennant Washington, the team led by Patrick Amar at Mira Vista in Mount Vernon, Washington, was brimming with positivity and excitement about their dementia care programs. On this particular day, the incredible resources from IN2L ( were demonstrated. It was clear this team, including their activities director, had a plan for integrating these tools into both therapy and activities. How amazing it was to listen as the team strategized on ways to use IN2L and better the lives of their residents.

At Owyhee Health and Rehab in Homedale, Idaho, our Abilities Care Refresher was an incredible learning experience about how great dementia programs really help the lives of the residents. Residents were asking to show us their life story boards, and we saw functional plans in action as Lexi Haigh, SLP, DOR, and Fresca Stewart, COTA, explained and demonstrated how abilities care is working in their facility.

Finally, at Rosewood Rehab in Reno, Nevada, DOR Whitney Wilding and team displayed a phenomenal understanding of dementia care and of the needs of all their residents. As we reviewed the concepts of Can do, Will do, May do and discussed the Evaluative, Intervention, and Maintenance phases of Abilities Care, ALL THREE disciplines actively participated and knew all these concepts equally well. Talk about a singular mission! As we visited residents and saw story boards and interventions, it was clear that Rosewood is dedicated to great dementia care for their residents.

The Hills Got Skills 2.0

By Sadaf Roodbaei, NHA, MS CCC-SLP; Angelica Reyes, RN, DON; Paul Emerson Baloy OTD, OTR/L, DOR
The Hills Post-Acute held its second annual skills fair for our nursing staff on Thursday, Sept 15, 2022. This year’s theme was cunningly conceptualized as Circus Carnival. Our leaders Sadaf, ED and Angie, DON, with the support of all the department heads, creatively put together the circus carnival, themed Passion for Learning, as an experience for all our nursing staff to enjoy. No details were forgotten. They had everything from cotton candy machines, candy claw machine, hotdog warmers, lots of balloons, popcorn maker, circus decor, food and games, which were all set up to make the most of the clever and innovative event.

With the unwavering support from vendor and cluster partners, as well as resources, booths were assigned to discuss, educate and demonstrate specific information on skills to refresh and revitalize our nursing staff’s clinical competencies, which translates into continuing to provide of quality, top-notch care to our residents. The skills training content and competency checklist were strategically based on past survey opportunities, facility assessment and current device and equipment training. This ambitious feat was once again satisfactorily completed for the books! A testament in the pursuit of elevating post-acute care in the eyes of the world.