Amarillo Globe News had an interesting article about new technologies at Texas long term care facilities to help care for Alzheimer’s patients and give them more freedom.  The article mentions The Garden at Childers Place and its "plush accommodations".  The 20-bed "neighborhood," preferred over the term "unit," was built in 2007 and recently became a state-certified facility for Alzheimer’s patients.

Childers Place is now one of four Amarillo facilities that are state-approved for Alzheimer’s patients. The other three are: Ussery-Roan Texas State Veterans Home, Ware Memorial Care Center and Windflower Nursing, a part of Craig Methodist Retirement Community. All four combined have capacity for 155 patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder affecting 5.3 million Americans, the majority of which are 65 or older. The disease also is the most common cause of dementia, a mental disorder characterized by loss of memory and other intellectual abilities, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More than 80 percent of dementia cases are attributed to Alzheimer’s.

Childers Place is operated by the Bivins Foundation. Residents living in one of the neighborhoods can move into The Garden if their condition deteriorates or they need more assistance. The layouts of the three communities are the same, allowing for as smooth a transition as possible.

The facility can only be entered by key-card access, required by the state. The wing is divided into two sections, with 10 rooms down each hallway. Each room has its own bathroom and shower, and residents are encouraged to outfit it with their own furniture.  Each section has its own communal living room, immaculately set with furniture and a fireplace. A communal kitchen also is available and equipped with staff-operated safety features to avoid any harm to residents.

The use of technology is likely the facility’s greatest asset. Motion sensors in the room alert the nurses’ station and pagers can notify staff members if a resident leaves a room. A resident who needs to use the restroom at night need only get out of bed, and a weight sensor placed in the bed gradually turns on lights in the room and bathroom. The lights turn off whenever the patient returns to bed. Residents who need help getting to the restroom are a fall risk, and staff members are quickly alerted so they can come to help.

"The smart-room technology keeps staff from hovering over a patient, and it gives them more freedom," Hendley said. "It really cuts down on (patient) anxiety."




Northwest Arkansas Times had an article about a resident who died only 6 days after getting admitted to a nursing home. She was only 63 years old.  Why did they agree to accept her if they couldn’t take care of her?

Donna Fay Snow dislodged her catheter line, entered the bathroom and fell. She bled to death while lying on the bathroom floor before she was found at 5: 35 a. m.   Many times the resident needs to go to the bathroom and hits the call light/bell but gets no response so they try to go to the bathroom without assistance.  In this case, the call light was not operating properly.

"It appears that the cord to her nursing call light was missing," the lawsuit states.

Snow had a port placement for dialysis in her upper left jugular vein that she was prone to pick, according to the complaint.  The nursing home and its staff knew about Snow’s medical condition and should have taken steps to care for her needs, the lawsuit alleges.


The Salt Lake Tribune had an article about response times to call lights.  This is a major problem in many nursing homes leading to falls or loss of dignitiy.  Typically, a resident who needs assistance to go to the bathroom hits the call light.  No response.  The resident then has two choices: 1.  Attempt to get up without assistance and risk falling, or 2. Relieve themselves and sit in their own urine and feces.

Call lights are little red buttons next to every bed and bathroom in every nursing home. When pushed, an alarm should sound at the nurse’s desk and a light flashes over the bedroom door.
These call lights are how the frail and elderly summon for urgent help. But all too often, caretakers are slow to respond, if they respond at all. This is a common complaint from most if not all of our clients.

A Salt Lake Tribune examination shows that state inspectors have cited nearly one-third of Utah’s nursing homes for a call light violation in the past two years. 

At the Hurricane Rehabilitation Center, the call lights didn’t work in 10 rooms.

At the Bear River Valley Care Center, a man confined to a wheelchair waited 25 minutes for help getting into bed. "Sometimes it takes half a day," he told regulators. 

At the Willow Wood Care Center, a woman pushed her call light to get pain medication. She received her pills three hours later.

A slow response to a call light not only can impact a person’s medical care, but also steal their dignity. In a number of cases, people waited so long for help that they ended up soiling themselves.

Utah inspectors receive more complaints about call lights than anything else, said Greg Bateman, who heads the state certification team.  Often, call light problems are a symptom of inadequate staffing.

Because caretakers usually respond faster when they know inspectors are watching, Bateman said he often relies on resident complaints to identify a problem. There is no hard and fast guideline for responding to a call light, but state regulators want to see someone at least assess the person’s needs within the first five minutes.

Advocates for the Disability Law Center keep track of this problem. 
Eileen Maloney, who is a member of the center’s abuse and neglect team, said she visits some homes where call lights are constantly ringing and staff members ignore them.
The industry is teaming with state inspectors to create a new incentive program next year that will encourage nursing homes to replace their old call light system with the latest technology. 
The system would allow homes to document response times, providing proof that either resident complaints are valid or not.