American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Kearny Mesa Convalescent Hospital

San Diego, California

I celebrated BHSM over a period of two weeks at a skilled nursing facility by organizing a competition. The entire facility was caught up in the excitement as they had never heard of BHSM in the past and thought it was a "cool" idea. The MDS coordinator even offered to help me organize the celebration. I chose to focus on four areas-dysphagia, communication, voice and cognition, in the dementia and Alzheimer population.

Over the two weeks I put up information about the four areas in stages so the staff would not get overwhelmed with the information. All staff were given a questionnaire (10 questions), the answers to which were to be found in the info posted on the bulletin board. The questions covered pertinent issues in the four subject areas and because the info was presented in stages the staff had to keep checking the bulletin board regularly. To entice and encourage them to check the bulletin board on a regular basis, I also had surprise quick quizzes posted up frequently. The first five people to turn in the correct answers won an instant prize. This kept the staff and the entire facility excited and involved for the entire two weeks.

At the end of the two weeks the staff turned in their questionnaires and we had a drawing and gave away nine prizes. The administrator/owner became so enthusiastic about the the celebrations he insisted on taking pictures over the two weeks (of staff doing quizzes, reading the bulletin board, patients doing speech therapy etc.) and writing up an article about it in the monthly newsletter.

The best part of the celebrations for me was the outcome. The Director of Nursing told me she had learned a great deal from the info I posted, that she went around the facility observing residents positioning during meals (especially the ones who ate in bed or who were fed in their Gerri chairs) and realised that it wasn't being done correctly and so is making positive changes to address the issue. She and the nursing staff trainer/educator have requested for copies of the info so they could use it as part of their staff inservice and training. Several of the nurses told me they had never realised that speech therapists could help with voice problems or help dementia patients with cognitive problems. They felt this competition had opened their eyes to what speech therapists do. They no longer think of speech therapists only as "swallowing therapists."

Submitted by:
Sandra Arunasalam MA, CCC-SLP

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