My Christmas Miracle

Dec 22nd 2016

From Joe Steier:

There is nothing worse for any of us than putting our siblings into a long term facility knowing they most likely will never come back out. I, like many of you, have had both of my parents pass away inside a Signature Community in two very different ways, but the brother I shared a small bedroom, with beds two feet apart, for nearly two decades is a whole different emotion for me. He lived at home until he was in his 40s due to a tragic brain injury incurred in his early 20s and tried various group homes until he needed nearly one-on-one care and was removed from his waiver program. Mom’s deathbed request was to take care of him like she did to keep him happy and safe, which was a very haunting request for a busy man with four kids who can barely take care of himself. Being an SHC stakeholder, my friends rallied around me and emotionally led me through the transition out of his group home to SHC of South Louisville where we would sell it to my brother as “micro living condos” with Chef Sharon and the Award Winning Quality of Life leader, and it looked like it might work. But within the first week everything turned into to an emotional tirade of frustration and habitual patterns of disruption requiring a potential discharge to a mental hospital, and I would need a miracle to honor my mother’s dying request…

From Lindse Murphy:

It is said that miracles happen when we least expect them, especially when we want something with all our heart. November 15th, 2016 started off like any normal home office day. I sat in my favorite robe, sipping on a glass of sweet tea, while answering email messages and organizing paperwork. I could have never imagined the next call I received would lead to one of the most gratifying professional and personal experiences of my life. I answered the phone and heard one of Signature’s executive leaders on the other end. I could hear the concern in his voice. He explained to me that SHC’s

CEO had recently placed his brother Ray, who had a Traumatic Brain Injury, into one of our Louisville facilities and they needed my help. He went on to tell me that Ray had been discharged from his group home of four years due to uncontrolled seizures. Since being at Signature of South Louisville, he had been verbally and physically aggressive toward staff and the facility felt they had no choice but to find alternative placement. As I sat there listening I immediately thought of Joe, and how scary this all must have been to have someone so dear to him in a crisis. I knew the situation was urgent. When I arrived, I was greeted by the CEO and Director of Nursing, who graciously thanked me for coming. I could tell this had been very overwhelming for everyone.. I learned that he had only been at Louisville South for 45 days and in that time he had experienced two falls, was having seizures two to three times a week, had gained a significant amount of weight, and had been aggressive toward his caregivers who were with him on one-to-one at all times. I also learned that he was not sleeping well and would only catnap on the dayroom sofa for 5-10 minutes at a time, but was never getting a restful night’s sleep. The next 48 hours were jammed packed with me learning as much about Ray as possible…watching him throughout different shifts and gathering lots of data to figure out exactly what may have been causing such a significant change which started almost a year ago. I dove in head first and spoke to all Ray’s 1:1 staff, worked closely with his Nurse Practitioner on his medical needs, attended his neurology and psychiatry appointments, analyzed and graphed weeks of data on his sleeping, eating and behavioral patterns, and facilitated a conference call with all of the providers who were working so closely with Ray. As a Behavior Analyst, I was used to pulling “all-nighters”, and this was no exception. It turned out Ray’s seizures and aggression were triggered by his lack of sleep, poor diet and inconsistencies with behavioral management. The goal was to develop care planning that would help manage all three areas, as they directly correlated with one another.

On November 21st several strategies were implemented…his VNS implant (vagal nerve stimulator) was increased to a higher voltage, a new seizure medication was added at night, caffeine was eliminated after 5pm and a daily schedule was initiated to provide Ray with a consistent routine. I spent the next 24 hours educating all the nursing staff on a personalized behavior plan that included Ray’s preferred activities, as well as how staff should interact with him and respond during a crisis situation. One to one staff were trained to collect daily data on Ray’s sleep, eating and behavior patterns, and I have been calling the facility every day to check in on everything. Ray’s progress over the last twenty-one days is nothing short of a miracle! He has been seizure free for twenty-two days, is sleeping up to 8 hours a night in his bed and his water intake has nearly tripled each day. He is helping the team at South develop a healthy diet plan, and he has not had any physical aggression to date. Stakeholders have been giving rave reports about how happy Ray seems and how amazed they are with his turnaround. I have been told by numerous staff how much they love Ray and couldn’t imagine that not being his forever home. This is such a blessing to hear when just less than a month ago they were afraid they may have to seek alternative placement. As I’ve gotten to know not only the “patient” but also the man…. watching his personality develop, listening to his stories, hearing about his hopes and dreams, it reminds me of the true meaning of this magical time of year. So it got me to thinking…why couldn’t one of those dreams come true? That’s when “Operation Corvette” went into action. Like all teen boys, Ray dreamt of driving a red Corvette. So with a little help from Santa and his elves, Ray’s wish is coming true!

Ray’s CNA, Debra Peoples, who is a Restorative CNA, has been working closely with Ray as his 1:1 5-6 days a week since he came to us 9/29. He adores her and they really do have a beautiful bond together. She has gone above and beyond to ensure he is well groomed, but as independent as possible, eats a well balanced meal, drinks plenty of water, gets physical activity daily, ensures communication between all nursing staff, maintains his data log and plans and engages in meaningful conversations with him just like 2 friends would. As so many of our CNAs are, she is the true definition of our Sacred 6 Principles! Ray’s amazing progress shows us just how perfect God’s timing is. A brother’s overwhelming concern and staff’s exhausted efforts reminded me of how God’s plan is steps ahead, even if we don’t see it. Never did I imagine the strength of this man, the love of his brother, and the dedication of so many professionals could inspire me to see the true “magic” of Christmas. Reflecting back on everything since I’ve become a Behavior Analyst, most of the cases I have consulted on, although complex have resulted in a positive outcome. However, meeting Joe, helping Ray and getting to work so closely with the dedicated staff of Signature HealthCare has not only been a positive outcome, but a truly life changing and inspiring experience.

Lindse Murphy, Behavioral Health Consultant, Serenity HealthCare, LLC.

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