In our second part of
our interview with Jean Cannon, Jean shared her insights
on how even the smallest of changes with anything - routines,
meals, or really anything else can have a profound effect on
the residents at her facility. Jean offered her strategies on
how to minimize perceived 'changes' in the day-to-day operations
and management of her facility, in an effort to keep her residents
- many of whom have Alzheimer's Disease or other memory disorders
- happy and comfortable.
Jean started this segment
of our interview telling me that changes such as a new resident
moving in can
be a very stressful event for everyone, including the person
moving in, for their families, and for the people who already
live at the facility. It can also be very stressful for the
staff. However, Jean uses the word 'stressful' for lack of a
better word - and is quick to point out that it isn't necessarily
stress in a bad way - it's just a big 'change' that everyone
needs to adjust to. Jean mentions that even seemingly small
things like a new setting at the table can look very different
to her residents, and can be challenging for some of them to
get used to.
After about 24-36 hours
of a new resident moving in, everyone seems to settle down and
get used to the new routine.
As Jean took me on a
tour of her facility, before we sat down for the 'interview'
part of the visit, I felt that my presence at the facility was
causing a degree of discomfort with some of her residents. I
asked Jean about this, and she agreed with me about this. Jean
went further to tell me about three women at her facility in
particular that were having some difficulty and anxiety at about
the same time every day - about 2:30 to 3:00 every day - and
she finally realized that it was something they (the facility)
was doing to "cause" (for lack of a better word) the
distress. It was due to a 'shift change' at 2 in the afternoon.
At that time, people are coming onto their shift, and others
are leaving. The staff, at this time may be putting on their
coats, making some noise, saying hello and goodbye to people
- so it was a 10 minute period of the shift change that was
Her solution to this
issue was to have her staff come in through the side doors,
and be very quiet as to not make such a big 'scene' during this
Jean says that from
that day forward, she has seen a minimal level of anxiety at
that time of the afternoon with her residents.
Jean is also reluctant
to use the word 'behavior' at the facility because that almost
implies something negative, in her view. Instead, she says that
when people start 'acting differently' from what they did the
week earlier, for example, they look at it as an opportunity
to try to figure out what it is the resident is trying to 'tell
them.' At times, residents aren't able to articulate their problems
or concerns to the staff to say even simple things like "my
toe hurts" or "I am hungry" so the 'challenge'
or really, 'opportunity' for Jean, and her staff is to try to
figure out what is causing a resident to present themselves
in a different way, and respond accordingly.