Physical Therapy Story

A chance encounter on a plane sounds like something out of PBS Masterpiece Mystery episode, but fortunately, it proved to be serendipitous for Jayne Clairmont, English Rose Suites’ President and CEO. While traveling to Washington, DC at the invitation of the US Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, for the National Dementia Initiative, a casual conversation with a seat mate turned to the proverbial, “What do you do?” question. While explaining to Mike Handrich that she owned a homecare company and several residential memory care homes providing a high quality of life for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, she saw a light begin to shine in his eyes. Handrich proudly told Jayne about his daughter, Jessica, pursuing her doctorate in physical therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin. Jayne’s expertise and background truly peaked his interest, as his daughter has recently become very close to a woman with dementia, whom she was caring for on weekends.

Therapy1Always one to see an opportunity, the light bulb now shown in Jayne’s head! For eight years she had been looking for a way to intentionally integrate physical therapy skills internally, providing further training to the home health aides (HHA) and certified nursing assistants (CNA) on more advanced physical therapy techniques. Although contract physical therapists currently come into the homes regularly, she knew it would be optimal if the HHAs and CNAs could supplement that care by using these physical therapy techniques with the residents every day, throughout the day. Ideally, this additional training aims at providing a continuum of movements for the residents, from before they even get out of bed to seated arm exercises at the dining table, while residents wait for all to finish their dinners!

Jayne proposed to Jessica’s father that she and Jessica cross-leverage their respective expertise and have a thoughtful transfer of knowledge. English Rose Suites and bhome by English Rose Suites (our newest business and a natural extension of our superior residential care, but in your own home) would learn more advanced physical therapy skills that they could integrate every day, throughout the day with the residents, and Jessica could gain first-hand knowledge of providing physical therapy in a residential care environment specializing in dementia and Alzheimer’s. What a valuable experience it proved to be when Jessica needed to decide which specific discipline she will focus her skills and develop even more targeted expertise (Orthopedic, Geriatric, Neurological, Cardiovascular, or Pediatric), as they all focus on different goals and purposes. English Rose Suites was thrilled when she ultimately chose a position in home health care with patients 65 years and older!

Therapy2While the staff learned about the many benefits of targeted exercise, with demonstrations and hands-on practice of specific stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises, Jessica learned about the physical and psychological challenges the staff face first-hand with residents in different stages of memory loss. Jessica emphasized the importance of repetition, as well as engaging in a variety of different exercises to ensure residents maintain the health and physical acuity they now possess and by working on core strength, flexibility and balance, helping to prevent a potentially devastating fall down the road. They also learned a range of difficulty levels with exercise, so that they can be effective with residents at every level of physical ability.

Knowledge truly is power and what a wonderful way to use that power for good, enriching our residents’ lives, our staffs’ skill set, and the experience of a talented young woman ready to launch her career and positively influence the next generation.