We did a callout looking for inspiring workplaces, and Scalabrini Village Chipping Norton manager Fiona Kendall answered, letting us know that there’s something pretty special happening at this aged care facility…….
Q: The lead up to and death of a resident is obviously a very emotional time. What do you do for residents and families?
We recognise that the end of life is a sacred time for residents and their families, and we believe it is extremely important to hold a safe space and support them in their journey.
Our nurses are with them 24/7 – from the time they enter the end of life pathway to the time they pass away. We have seen that this brings a great deal of comfort to both the residents and their relatives.
It also allows our nurses to give focused, emotional, physical and spiritual support and our residents all the love they deserve.
Q: You have a palliative care committee. Can you tell us who is on the committee and what their roles are?
Our Palliative Care Committee guides practice and identifies areas of improvement. Our goal as a collaborative team is to provide a way that helps with emotional support and communication with families.
Our committee includes nurses, pastoral care workers, Medical Officers, families and residents:
Nurses – Nurses support residents on an end of life pathway, meaning a nurse is made available to residents 24/7 for emotional support and communication with families.
Pastoral care workers – One-to-one counselling for residents, facilitate support groups to help the families of residents through the ageing / palliative care process via discussion and coping strategies.
MOs (Medical Officers) – Work with the Registered Nurses to oversee clinical care, pain management and symptom control.
Families and residents – Participate in regular meetings made to be safe havens, where they can discuss and share feelings and experiences openly.
Volunteers – Each volunteer is matched with two to three residents whom they visit regularly and develop mutually beneficial relationships to make sure that all our residents have ‘someone to love’.
Q: Can you tell us about your approach for residents with dementia?
The Open Heart Program is also for our residents living with dementia. Our objective is to provide the best quality care and assistance for both the aged and the families of residents in our care. The Scalabrini Village team is striving to develop new benchmarks in dementia care through staff education and contemporary facilities.
Support is vital for people with dementia and the help of families, friends, carers and qualified professionals can make a significant difference to their quality of life.
Q: Sister Maria Elena, Pastoral Care Coordinator at Scalabrini Village thinks it takes a village to deliver quality aged care. How she came to this conclusion?
Response prepared by Sr. Maria Elena Figueroa, Pastoral Care Coordinator, Scalabrini Village
“From my experience, I was aware emotional support and communication with families at the end of life care had a significant gap in the aged-care sector.
Families were struggling with the emotional impact of placing their loved ones into care, so I wanted to find a way to not only provide medical support but spiritual and emotional support as well.
It certainly takes more than one person to help build support and all the people involved in the Open Heart Program play an integral role. From the nurses to the volunteers, we all work together so well because we have individual strengths and can offer different types of support to the different people involved.
I have a passion for healing and supporting people at most critical times of need. The program is a dream and passion of mine and I’m lucky enough to have the support from management, fellow religious sisters and staff.”
Open Heart Program breakdown:
Scalabrini Village (SV) is a not-for-profit residential aged care provider with a particular focus on Italian family heritage and doesn’t shy away from the serious issues. Instead, SV is responsibly dealing with the inevitability of death and hardships experienced by not just palliative care-needing residents but also their families / carers.
Sister Maria Elena from SV developed the Open Heart Program that focuses on a strong Pastoral Care system influenced by staff and culture and, recognises that it truly takes a village to deliver quality aged-care. The Open Heart Program is now practice at Scalabrini Village Chipping Norton (in western-Syd) with an intention to eventually roll-out implementation of the role across all Scalabrini Villages in NSW. There are five pillars: Pastoral Care, Travelling with Myself, No One Dies Alone, Circle of Love, Sunrise & Sunset.
- Pastoral Care – supported by the Religious Sisters, SV has developed a very strong Pastoral Care Program for residents in the past five years excelling in sensitive, caring, spiritual and emotional support.
- Travelling with myself (staff-focused) – supports staff to develop self-esteem and is the genesis of the subsequent full Open Heart program. The Travelling with Myself group sessions via word-of-mouth saw participant numbers grow so dramatically that even non-staff asked to attend and moreover, produced such a positive impact on attendees through simple discussion and the sharing of feelings that SV considered the benefits of such discussion outlets on the wider SV family – that is, including residents and their loved ones to-boot.
- Sunrise and Sunset (families / carers-focused) – SV realised that some families were struggling with the emotional impact of placing their loved ones into care so a bi-monthly support group, facilitated by Sr Maria Elena, was formed to help the families of residents through the ageing / palliative care process via discussion and coping strategies.
- No one dies alone (resident focused) – 1-1 nursing support for residents on an end of life pathway, meaning a special nurse is made available to residents 24/7. Emotional support and communication with families was identified as a significant gap in the past, so a number of clinical initiatives were put in place to improve outcomes, including Case Management, Palliative Care Committees and training for staff, all designed to comfort residents who are approaching death.
- Circle of Love (community volunteer-focused) – similar to a ‘buddy’ system, Circle of Love matches volunteers to SV residents based on personality / likes/ dislikes etc. to enhance the meaningful ways in which volunteers contribute to terminally-ill residents and vice versa. Each volunteer is matched to 2-3 residents whom they visit regularly and develop mutually beneficial relationships to make sure that all our residents have ‘someone to love’.
For more information visit www.scalabrini.com.au