By Barbara Sherf
At this time last year, a group of professionals in the health and senior care industries got together to form a consortium to help keep senior citizens in the Chestnut Hill area. Maureen Robertson, Marketing Director at Arbor Terrace at Chestnut Hill, has been the point person in developing the group to 10 members.
The consortium meets once a month and has recently put together a website along with the promotion of a workshop by Teepa Snow, an expert on dementia. Caregivers and area healthcare professionals received continuing education credits for attending the seminar on May 14 at Arbor Terrace in which Snow theatrically showed her audience what it was like for someone with dementia.
Snow will again be speaking at Chestnut Hill Hospital’s Main Conference Room on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 5:45 pm. The program is open to the public and to members of the healthcare community seeking continuing education credits. Space is limited, and reservations must be made by Sept. 5 by calling 215-247-5307.
In her previous talk, Snow detailed the different kinds of dementia and had pictures of healthy and unhealthy brains and went over methods of dealing with a host of dementia issues, including the way individuals with dementia view the world.
“This was very informative. She really paints a vivid picture of what’s normal and what’s not and how to get into the mind of someone who has dementia,” said Leslie Hatcher, who has a sister in the Memory Care Unit at Arbor Terrace.
Holly Dender, a Wyndmoor-based occupational therapist, said she thought she knew a lot about dementia care until she heard Snow’s talk.
“Her energy and humor captivated the audience, but it was also quite informative in terms of what is going on in their heads and how we can communicate better with this population,” Dender said.
Robertson said the consortium concept grew out of a need that she and others were feeling regarding longtime residents and their desire to stay in the area.
“We here at the Arbor Company started to realize that there were so many families that were falling through the cracks who didn’t have answers to many different issues relating to the care of somebody they love,” she said. “I took care of my mother in 2001 for a year, and I wasn’t in the healthcare industry at the time and didn’t realize that hospice would have been a good option for us. Instead, she was in the hospital when she really would have benefited from hospice.”
Keystone House, a Wyndmoor-based hospice, is a consortium member, as is Chestnut Hill Senior Care Center, an adult day program where people with dementia can go seven days a week for activities.
“I think the consortium is a wonderful way to keep people in their own community. There are home care agencies, home physicians, adult day programs, hospice care and even respite programs available,” said Laura Grassia, Chestnut Hill Senior Care Center Director. “We are all sitting down and learning more about what each member does. There is a dialogue going on.”
Other members include Genesis Rehab Services, Bayada Home Health Care, Liebling Elder Care, Life Choices and Chestnut Hill Healthcare. Members recently learned that Arbor Terrace has developed a 30-day respite program for families in crisis.
“So many times patients are released from the Emergency Room, and they can’t go back home right away,” said Robertson. “We have a 30-day program where families can know that their loved one is being cared for while they explore all of the options and give them some breathing room.”
Wendy Liebling of the Flourtown-based Liebling Elder Care knew about the respite program but said she was glad that other consortium members are learning more about it. “So often we are dealing with families in crisis and trying to find the right services. When we have a little more breathing room then everybody benefits.”
Consortium member Elaine Gilbride, Director of Case Management at Chestnut Hill Healthcare, was bullish on the idea of the consortium. “We use the information gathered to inform patients of the variety of services at all levels of care that are available locally.”
Robertson said that if any prospective members fit in with the mission, they would be welcome. “There are really no fees. We did ask consortium members for $50 to get the web site up, but we are really a community resource for families to turn to in an effort to help their loved one and to try to keep them in the Chestnut Hill area. We just want to make each organization aware of the services available.”
For more information, go to Google or another search engine and type in Chestnut Hill Healthcare Consortium or call 215-247-5307.