In May 2019, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph received the AdvantAge Ontario Innovation and Excellence Award in recognition of the work done by the St. Joseph’s Long-term Care team in supporting seniors.

Members of the Long-Term Care team receive the AdvantAge Ontario Innovation and Excellence Award in Supporting Seniors

This award aims to recognize innovative programs or techniques in workplace quality and the provision of care or services for seniors. It specifically acknowledges how the Resident Engagement Quality Improvement Plan that started at St. Joseph’s in 2017 has succeeded in detecting a resident’s deteriorating mood and improving the resident’s engagement and mood to decrease the symptoms of depression.

The goal of the initiative was to promote meaningful resident engagement that would reduce a resident’s feelings of depression as expressed by specific mood indicators. To monitor a resident’s change in mood, the team used the Depression Rating Scale (DRS) to monitor changes in mood scores. The resident’s personal support worker (PSW) would document the resident’s mood daily, taking into account mood indicators like making negative statements, persistent anger at oneself or others, expressions of what appear to be unrealistic fears, repetitive complaints (both health related and non-health related), facial expressions that are sad, pained or worried, and crying and tearfulness.

Residents who reached a specific threshold on the depression scale received personalized engagement tasks and activities to complete with staff. The engagement activities were tailored to meet the resident’s

Members of the LTC team attended the AdvantAge Ontario ceremony

specific needs and preferences in alignment with St. Joseph’s philosophy of person-centred care and documented so all staff are aware of each resident’s preferences. The activities chosen were not time-consuming, making it easy for staff to incorporate them into the care they were providing. When it was appropriate, therapists, members of SJHCG’s spiritual care team and other professionals were called on to provide additional supports. These engagement activities and supports were in addition to the regular recreation programs and community events already in place for residents at St. Joseph’s.

These changes to how St. Joseph’s engaged residents in long-term care led to a significant reduction in the percent of residents who declined in mood from symptoms of depression. Since implementing this initiative, St. Joseph’s is performing better than the WW LHIN and provincial averages for this important measure of a resident’s quality of life.

Ultimately, the initiative also improved the workplace culture with increased staff engagement, staff morale and teamwork across all participating units. The change in approach allowed PSWs and nurses to become less focused on specific tasks and concentrate on the individual for whom they were providing care and the interactions between staff and residents improved noticeably. Staff spend quality time with residents, and, in so doing, they built better therapeutic relationships with them, while residents benefit from engaging in activities designed to meet their needs, wants, and likes.

Congratulations to the Long-Term Care team on the well-deserved recognition.