Tidbit of the Week

  • Weekly Tidbit for November 19, 2017: Turkey Dance!

    Turkey Day is almost here, so we thought we’d have some fun and share this cute song and dance with you:

    Turkey Dance: The Gobble!

    Play it for your residents to get them to DANCE, DANCE, DANCE for a few minutes each day this week!

    Another trick: How about making your residents who like to sit (but who you know can stand) stand up to give you and other staff members some big holiday HUGS....maybe even a few times each day this week? They will be doing “sit to stand” exercises that are great to maintain leg strength, but they’ll be focused on giving and receiving a warm embrace.

    Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

  • Weekly Tidbit for November 12, 2017: Short Bursts of Activity Can Have Long-Lasting Effects

    Now that Autumn is here, lots of us are watching our favorite football teams play their game. Just as football players exert loads of energy in quick, short plays on the field, older adults can enjoy shorter bursts of activity as well. Longer duration exercise options (such as an exercise class) can be intimidating for some residents who don’t like the idea of formal “exercise”.

    Here are some ideas for 10-minute bursts of activity to help your residents incorporate physical activity throughout the day:

    • Dance, dance, dance…turn off those TVs, put on some tunes and dance! Usually about 3 or 4 songs will take 10 minutes. To make it interesting, have a dance competition, and whoever dances the longest wins. Have staff take turns picking some of their favorite dance songs to play to engage them as well.
    • Walk…if you have pedometers, have residents set daily walking goals with friends. Those in wheelchairs can self-propel. You can also map out 10-minute walks within your facility, ideally with a destination area for walkers (e.g. get a cup of coffee at the café, or see a lovely plant or garden).
    • Clean your room! Encourage residents to dust their rooms, sweep floors, etc.
    • Toss a beach ball with other residents while discussing news of the day.
    • Grab those foam noodles, free weights or resistance bands…are they tucked away in a cabinet somewhere? Do they stay in the physical therapy room? Pull them out and sit them by the televisions and outside the dining rooms. Encourage residents to do exercises while waiting for meals to be served or while watching TV.

    Motivation is always a big factor—everyone needs a little extra push. Remind and encourage your residents to do these spurts and do them together! You can also share with them the results if this recent study, which showed that older adults who exercised regularly, especially by walking, had more success in recovering from a disability:


    When a resident engages in activity, especially someone who hasn’t done so in the past, acknowledge their effort with a hug or an extra few minutes of attention. This can go a long way. Families often know best what motivates their loved ones, so communicate with them and let them help with encouraging their loved one too.

  • Weekly Tidbit for November 5, 2017: The Time Crunch

    This week we’ll address a common concern among busy assisted living staff…the TIME CRUNCH! With an endless list of things to do each day, who has time for Function Focused Care?

    But consider this: Function Focused Care(FFC) is not something we do in addition to care. It is not simply one more thing added onto the bottom of your list. Rather, it is how care is provided and incorporated into everything you do with a resident. With a little bit of practice, FFC will become a habit that fits into the daily routine of you and every caregiver at your site.

    For example, when you are getting someone up in the morning, you can evaluate range of motion and strength as they get dressed. Test them a bit by leaving something they may want such as a brush up on a higher shelf than it normally is. See if they reach up to get it. When you are walking to the dining room, observe their balance and gait. Watch for how steady they walk. Do they grab furniture or touch walls?

    Once you determine their capability, focus on what a resident is able to do, and give them the opportunity to do it. You may be surprised by what they can accomplish with a little encouragement. Let them wash their face while you wash their lower body, ask them comb their hair while you get their clothes out, have them self-propel in the wheelchair instead of pushing them to meals and activities. Not only does this help with strength and range of motion, it can save you time too!

    In terms of goals, pick one resident a week for whom to develop short and long term goals. Get residents and their families involved in goal identification and motivation strategies. A goal might be walking 50 feet so they can get to the dining room to sit for a meal, getting out of a wheelchair and into a regular chair for meals, or doing 10 sit-to-stands a day to help prevent a fall or be able to get up off the toilet by oneself. Setting goals and learning what motivates each resident requires sharing ideas and testing stuff out to see what works…what’s realistic. Be creative!

    Finally, think for a moment about the many physical and psychological benefits of function focused care, including maintaining the independence and dignity of residents. We are confident you will agree that spending a few minutes with your staff to teach them how to evaluate residents’ capabilities, setting a few simple goals for residents, showing them how to use the “hand-over-hand” technique for residents who need assistance with grooming and feeding, and brainstorming ideas for motivating residents is worth all of the benefits that the residents—as well as staff—will ultimately enjoy. We are here to help you with this process and look forward to sharing your success stories throughout the coming year.  


  • Weekly Tidbit for October 29: Welcome!

    This is the first of the weekly Function Focused Care Tidbits that we’ll be sending you throughout the year. We encourage you forward these to your staff, print them out and post on a staff bulletin board, or perhaps discuss each week’s topic at one of your staff huddles. In addition to providing useful tips and resources, we will use these tidbits to announce contests for facilities. Each tidbit will also be posted on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/functionfocusedcare/

    So let’s start with an overview of Function Focused Care (FFC) that you can share with current staff who are just learning about FFC and new staff who are joining your facility:

    • Function Focused Care is our philosophy of care here at this facility. It means that we focus on the residents’ abilities rather than their limitations. We assume that residents can do everything for themselves, unless they prove otherwise.
    • Activities of FFC include basic personal care, walking or self-propelling in a wheelchair, and exercises such as stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercise.
    • Once a resident’s baseline capabilities are identified, the next step is to develop short and long term goals for the resident, and communicate these goals with family and all caregivers.
    • A big part of FFC is motivation. This means we must work together to determine what factors can motivate each resident to do as much for him/herself as possible. This can be a simple as getting a piece of candy for doing sit-to-stand exercises to strengthen legs, or walking to the ding room for meals instead of using a wheelchair so they can be strong enough to go out to lunch with a loved one.
    • FFC does not take more time than simply doing things for the resident instead. Allow time for a resident to complete self-care while you do other things, and assist when necessary, starting with cuing and gesturing.
    • Benefits of FFC are far reaching: prevent falls, build stronger muscles, improve balance, maintain joint function and prevent deformity, improve circulation, build endurance and improve mood and quality of life to name just a few. Caregivers also benefit…less lifting of residents, more time for other things, and better mood of residents usually means better mood of caregiver!
    • FFC is safe for everyone as long as activities are matched to a resident’s ability. There is something that everyone can do to increase activity and keep bones and muscles moving. Dancing is a big one! Turn off the television, turn on some music and start dancing.

    Please let us know if you have additional suggestions for staff training, perhaps something that has worked well for you at your facility.


    Have a great week!

  • TOTW September 21: Thank you!

    Many people turn away from what scares them…old age…dementia…mortality.

    But you turn towards it. You lift and hold and hug your residents. You treasure their pasts, help them enjoy their present and not be terrified of their futures.  You nurture, reminisce and provide encouragement and tough love to keep them moving…feeling…living.

    Sometimes you see your future self in their eyes and it scares you too. But you stay. You care for them as you hope to be cared for yourself one day. You embrace their gifts, savor their stories, and celebrate their individuality. You learn patience and perseverance. You practice compassion and humility. You are a role model for colleagues.

    People call you angels, but do not truly understand the extent of all you do. There is no way that they could and you don’t expect them to.

    And amidst all this, you still take the time to meet with us, share us your stories, and send us your ideas. We are touched by your efforts as you continue to strive to learn more…anything that can help your residents live better lives and your staff be better caregivers.

    We applaud you and we thank you. We are still here for you if you need us for advice or suggestions, and always welcome your stories. Please keep in touch. Have a great Active Aging Week too. Those of you who submitted plans for this week (they were all wonderful) can expect a gift card in the mail soon!


  • TOTW August 31: FFC: A Philosophy, Not a Fad

    We’ve all seen ads for the latest “fad diets” and have either tried one or know someone who has. We also know that these diets rarely work long-term, in part because they do not involve a change in lifestyle habits, but rather a short term fix for a long term problem. How does this relate to function focused care? Rather than viewing it as a program with a beginning and an end (like a diet would end once goals are reached), function focused care is a philosophy of care that involves changes in how we think about activity with our residents as well as the habits of caregivers, administrators and residents.

    Just as people who lose weight are most successful when they adopt permanent lifestyle changes, function focused care can start today with small changes that eventually become habits, and then simply a standard way of living. As we approach the end of our official FFC program, we encourage you to reflect upon the changes your facility has made over the year to integrate the philosophy of function focused care with your staff, residents and their family members. Think about how you will continue the great work you’ve started over these past months. What changes have become habits already? What could use more attention? As always, we welcome your feedback and suggestions, and remind you that there are many resources available on our website (www.functionfocusedcare.org) to help you.


  • TOTW August 24: Stroll to the Salon and Spa

    We loved this story and wanted to share it with you. Please click on this following link to see: http://mashable.com/2014/08/20/robbie-kaye-photography/

    So how can this relate to function focused care? If you have a salon at your facility, encourage your residents to walk there. There are so many motivating factors…they can socialize with friends at the salon, catch up with their hairdresser (we ladies know that can be a close bond!), and end up looking beautiful too!

    If you don’t have a salon at your site, how about hosting a regular  “spa day” for your residents? Hold it in a room that isn’t often used and encourage residents to walk or self-propel there. A volunteer or staff member can do hair and nails, and even make up. You can even encourage residents to do some exercises while they wait for their turn!

  • TOTW August 17: Sing a Song and Take a Stroll for Healthier Aging

    Sing a song and take a stroll…both can lead to healthier and happier aging! A recent study has once again confirmed what most of us already know…that sedentary older adults can improve their function by walking. Have you started a walking club yet?? Early fall is a great time to get outside! http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/4/611.abstract

    Another interesting study found that singing songs can benefit people with dementia AND their caregivers by leading to improved feelings of wellbeing in caregivers and improved short-term and working memory in those with dementia. (http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/4/634.abstract) Not only does this study encourage us to sing some tunes with our residents, it reminds us that the wellbeing of our caregivers is very important too. Consider buying some musical instruments for residents to play while singing, since this can help increase range of motion and heart rate through movement. For those of you who still have a Nasco gift card to spend, check out enasco.com and search for instruments.

    We’ve gotten a bunch more entries for our “Active Aging ” contest, so keep them coming! We’ll give you a few more weeks to send us your plans for the special week (which is the week of September 21st). For those of you participating, please send us photos of your residents taking part in your activities that week! We’d love to see them. Attached is a consent form for you to print and make copies of for anyone in your photos to sign, then scan and email back to us. This way we can share them with colleagues and even post on our website!

    Still looking for Active Aging Week ideas? Check this out:


  • TOTW August 10: Plant a Garden!

    Believe it or not, summer is starting to wind down, but it’s not too late for your residents to start a table garden! A review of research has shown that gardening can improve the lives of people with dementia by helping to decrease agitation and increase feelings of calmness and relaxation. http://www.jamda.com/article/S1525-8610(14)00339-9/abstract?cc=y?cc=y

    Rebecca Whear, MSc, a Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School says, “There is an increasing interest in improving dementia symptoms without the use of drugs. We think that gardens could be benefitting dementia sufferers by providing them with sensory stimulation and an environment that triggers memories. They not only present an opportunity to relax in a calming setting, but also to remember skills and habits that have brought enjoyment in the past.”

    So consider planting some potted herbs or flowers with residents outside this month while the weather is mild. Check out these garden tables: http://www.enasco.com/action/solr/select?q=garden and at http://tablegarden.net/  Someone who is handy (a friend or family member of one of your residents?!) could probably build one for you pretty easily too!

    Finally, here’s an opportunity to learn more about activities you can do for Active Aging Week in September! A free webinar will take place on Wednesday, August 20th. Click on the following link to register: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=nhpqkwpsd0b7

    Remember that we are having one last contest…please send in a paragraph about what your facility plans to do for Active Aging Week next month, or send us pictures of residents being ACTIVE! We have a few eNasco gift cards left to award the winners!!

  • TOTW August 3: The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes

    Indeed, the body does achieve what the mind believes. What do your residents believe they can do? Does your well-meaning staff tell residents to “Stay put and let me do that for you” or “Sit down before you fall!” or “Don’t walk by yourself…you might fall down!” Such statements, though well-intentioned, can condition residents to think they aren’t capable of doing things for themselves, or worse yet, make them fearful of even trying.

    Instead, consider using motivating phrases like, “ You can do it, I know you can!” or “You are looking stronger today, let’s give it a try.” Understandably, you may not want a resident walking alone if they are a high fall risk. But rather than telling them to sit so they don’t fall, how about “I’m glad you want to walk, Mr. Jones. I’d like to walk with you. Please wait for me and we can walk together.”

    This week, pay special attention to how you and staff speak to residents when it comes to performing activities of daily living and walking. Choosing encouraging phrases can make a big difference in their mindset—and in yours too!