April: Alcohol Awareness Month!

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Alcohol is a substance that undeniably has a number of direct and indirect affects on the health system in the United States as well as around the world. Furthermore, April happens to be Alcohol Awareness Month. Due to the reality that alcohol has such a notably profound impact on all facets of the healthcare system, a posting about Alcohol Awareness Month 2019 seems timely and appropriate.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) created Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987 for the targeted purpose of spreading knowledge and awareness about the topics of alcohol, problem drinking, alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, and recovery. In addition, Alcohol Awareness Month was created to lessen the stigma and negative connotations associated with addiction to alcohol.

Approximately 17.6 million persons are afflicted with alcohol use disorders or alcohol dependence (Facing Addiction With NCADD, 2019). As aspiring medical professionals and workers in the healthcare system, the likelihood of encountering patients and families impacted by alcohol abuse is high. Thus, healthcare workers should educate themselves about issues that revolve around alcohol misuse, alcoholism, and recovery.

To observe Alcohol Awareness Month, people can do their part by helping to spread some knowledge and awareness regarding alcohol usage. The various social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will surely be filled with informational posts, articles and pictures regarding Alcohol Awareness Month. Furthermore, people can utilize the #AlcoholAwareness hashtag when posting on social media apps.

Remember the following truths: even when an individual believes he or she is alone in the world, rest assured that someone is always around to offer help. Therefore, let’s be there to either provide help or obtain it if needed. After all, be mindful that it is never too late to make more healthful lifestyle changes and address addictions or problematic patterns. No one is alone in the uphill fight for a better, sober life.

REFERENCES

Facing Addiction With NCADD. (2019). Alcohol Awareness Month – April 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019, from https://www.facingaddiction.org/resources/alcohol-awareness-month?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTmpReU5HTTRaakJtT1RJeSIsInQiOiJweWtJQjI4b0xUbVBrMDZvKzZGVmpVZVhtUE12NEpKRkI4aHo2azRZRkVZOE5OcnlNOFRrZkQrMWNna1wvQXdLWDQzT3o5YnNvMG40YlFzUTVFdjA5Nm9CWElWU3dEQlFjeHMzTWVwQjlZSVRrRENKeDdRbXhxcXNiTE5vam9WQThrOUNrMzQyVDlWcnRZUFwvQ2VNcWJudz09In0%3D

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Four Reasons Healthcare Workers are Crucial!

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Healthcare workers are of the utmost importance here in the United States as well as around the globe. Healthcare workers include every single person in the health system who delivers care either directly or on an indirect basis. Those who fall under the realm of healthcare workers would include physicians, nurses, physical therapists, patient care technicians, nursing assistants, physicians assistants, and other types of clinicians.

Why are healthcare workers so important? They are crucial for a number of compelling reasons. For one, they serve as patient advocates. Advocacy, defined as the earnest promotion of a cause, is an activity that healthcare workers routinely perform. Clinicians who render patient care regularly advocate for their patients to ensure that all of their needs regarding health are met in a timely manner. Effective advocacy requires a set of soft skills in addition to a degree of social finesse.

In addition, healthcare workers are crucial since they provide education to patients, families, communities and entire populations. Healthcare workers educate people on how to prevent health problems. They teach people how to properly manage disease processes, too. It is essential that patients receive education on proper disease management since dealing with chronic illness in the right manner can ward off deadly complications.

Moreover, healthcare workers are very significant because they deliver the ongoing care, assessment and observation that makes the ultimate difference in the outcomes of patients. In fact, competent healthcare workers are quite possibly the most vital elements in the recovery or stability of a patient’s health status (Stevens, 2009). In essence, healthcare workers provide patient care and keenly observe for changes in condition.

Finally, healthcare workers are important due to the therapeutic relationships they establish with patients. Healthcare workers do things to build relationships with clients that are cemented by trust, rapport, warmth, caring, compassion, human connection and honesty. These elements help patients feel confident and reassured regarding the care they are receiving. Patients will be more likely to care about their health statuses when they perceive that their health workers care.

Again, why are healthcare workers so crucial? They are important because they engage in patient advocacy. They are important since they provide lifesaving patient education. They are important because they deliver care and simultaneously observe for changes in patients’ conditions. They are important because they develop therapeutic relationships with patients that demonstrate caring, warmth and the ultimate level of compassion.

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RESOURCES

Community Tool Box. (2018). Overview: Getting an Advocacy Campaign off the Ground. Retrieved April 8, 2019, from https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/advocacy-principles/overview/main

Stevens, A. (2009, June). What Role Do Healthcare Workers Play in Determining Quality Care? Retrieved April 8, 2019, from http://blog.sunbeltstaffing.com/medical-ethics/what-role-do-healthcare-workers-play-in-determining-quality-care/

Healthcare Workplace Spotlight: It’s All About How People Feel Around You

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Here is a harsh reality of workplace politics that some people have not quite grasped: regardless of how well we are able to perform the technical and procedural aspects of our job duties, most employees will never get too far at work if people do not feel comfortable around them. Yes, the way people feel around us is very important. Some further elaboration on this phenomenon is needed, so here we go…

Many workers are amazing at the hands-on, technical aspects of their jobs. For instance, a nurse named Selma has approximately 10 years of experience in various areas. She is highly intelligent and has a masters degree in nursing. Selma has worked in a variety of higher acuity nursing specialties including interventional radiology, critical care, post anesthesia recovery, same day surgery, inpatient dialysis, and the emergency room.

Selma is proficient in a large number of technical and procedural hands-on skills that many other nurses have not fully mastered. For example, she is an expert at operating ventilators. She is also an expert at starting intravenous lines, accessing ports, running bedside hemodialysis machines, managing multiple IV drips, applying wound vac appliances, and performing comprehensive head-to-toe assessments of patients.

However, something is not quite right with Selma. She has had 19 jobs in her 10 year career as a nurse. Patients and families complain that she is not expressive or warm and that her bedside manner is cold. Coworkers would say she is very smart, but brutally honest and hard to be around for expended periods of time. Selma believes she does her work well, so she does not understand why she never manages to keep a job for long.

On the other hand, another nurse named Mamie also has 10 years of experience in a number of different areas. Mamie is an RN with an associate degree from a trade school and experience in lower acuity nursing specialties such as long term care, hospice, post acute rehabilitation, home health, private duty, doctors offices and seasonal flu shot clinics. Mamie has been at her current job at a nursing home for the past seven years.

Mamie does not have most of the hands-on technical skills that Selma possesses. Mamie does not know how to operate ventilators or access ports, and she is not terribly good at starting intravenous lines or managing IV pumps. While Mamie can complete patient assessments, she has never touched a dialysis machine. While Mamie knows how to apply wound vac appliances, she surely would not call herself an expert at this skill.

However, Mamie is beloved at work due to her cheerful personality and ability to make people feel good about themselves in her presence. She always offers assistance and has great interpersonal skills. After five years of dedicated work as a floor nurse and weekend supervisor at the nursing home where she is employed, she was promoted into the nursing administration department to serve as the facility director of nurses.

What is the difference between Selma and Mamie? Even though Mamie may be far less skilled in the hands-on aspects of nursing, her social skills are impressive. In other words, Mamie has mastered the art of causing people to feel comfortable around her. Mamie is aware that people do not care what a person knows until they know that the same person cares about them. Meanwhile, Selma has not yet figured this out.

The moral of the story is this: our time, interactions, encounters and experiences at the workplace will be made more pleasant and easier if people feel a sense of positivity and optimism in our presence. The initial step to induce comfort in people and put them at ease is to behave in a gracious and kindly manner toward everyone, regardless of who they are. After all, the way people feel around us is very important. Remember that.

Healthcare Workplace Spotlight: the Importance of Personal Hygiene

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For starters, personal hygiene is defined as the various ways in which an individual provides care to his or her body. Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance for everyone in society, but this rings especially true for those who work in the medical field and healthcare industry. In fact, personal hygiene is so important in the healthcare field that it can mean the difference between life and death.

Why is personal hygiene so important? The human body can be an ideal place for many disease-causing microbes and germs to flourish and multiply. These microbes can result in illness for a person who does not practice good personal hygiene habits. In addition, the microbes can make the other people in the life of the unclean person extremely sick due to the fact that germs that cause disease are spread by way of direct contact.

What are some examples of poor personal hygiene habits for healthcare workers and others? Examples include wearing unwashed clothing and uniforms, not showering or bathing regularly, not brushing one’s own teeth twice per day, not routinely washing one’s hands, and failing to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Unclean clothes, bodies, mouths and hands are all able to spread germs and make others ill.

For those who provide direct care to clients and patients, personal hygiene is so crucial that adherence to good cleanliness habits can mean the difference between life and death. For instance, unclean clothing contains dead skin cells and germs. A nurse aide who wears unclean scrubs to her workplace can spread germs to an elderly patient with a compromised immune system. The patient may develop an infection and die.

Certain types of patients and clients are more prone to contracting illness than others. These patients include the elderly, the very young, the unvaccinated, and those with reduced immunity due to acquired immunodeficiency virus (AIDS) or taking medications that suppress the body’s immune response. People with autoimmune diseases and those who have had organ transplantation often take drugs that lower the body’s immunity.

So, what are some examples of good personal hygiene habits that healthcare workers and others should practice? Some examples include taking daily showers or baths, brushing the teeth twice a day, washing the hands after using the toilet and before giving care or handling food items, wearing clothing that has been washed, ensuring one’s hair is clean, and covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Good personal hygiene habits reduce microbial counts on a person’s skin and in the oral cavity, thereby minimizing chances of spreading germs that cause disease. Clean clothing does not harbor the germs that are found on unwashed clothes. Also, covering the mouth during a cough or sneeze keeps airborne and droplet germs from getting into the air, thereby preventing others in the immediate area from breathing them in.

Personal hygiene starts with at the individual level. It is up to the individual to do what he possibly can to protect himself, his family, the community, and the public as a whole. Good personal hygiene habits protect individuals, families, communities and the general public by reducing the number of disease-causing germs on peoples’ bodies. Personal hygiene is a health and safety issue. Remember that.

RESOURCES

Australian Government Department of Health. (November 2010). Good Personal Hygiene. Retrieved March 28, 2019, from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/ publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l~ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l-ch3~ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l-ch3.7

Scholastic Spotlight: the Importance of Classmates

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Classmates, also referred to as schoolmates, are defined as students who attend at least one of the same classes together at a particular school or educational institution. Classmates are important and can serve as amazingly valuable resources to a person’s future career pathway in the healthcare industry, albeit for a number of good reasons that might not be completely apparent at the first glance.

Why are classmates so valuable? Firstly, classmates can enlarge a person’s professional and personal network. Second, classmates are a great source of knowledge and wisdom. Third, classmates can make the time at school pleasurable. Fourth, classmates can be the ones to provide character references for jobs or college applications. Finally, classmates can help each other to learn the mountains of material being taught in school.

The majority of adult learners opt to go back to school or enroll in career training classes so they can acquire job skills that will make themselves more marketable and salable in the employment marketplace. In other words, people go back to school to increase the odds of getting better jobs for higher pay. Classmates can be a helpful part of a personal network since they may know of potential workplaces that have job openings.

Furthermore, classmates can bestow a lot of free knowledge and pearls of wisdom upon each other by way of sharing their life’s experiences, backgrounds, personal stories and work histories. For instance, the 48-year-old student with 25 years of home health care-giving experience can provide useful info to her classmates on the benefits and pitfalls of giving direct care to clients in a homelike residential workplace setting.

Also, friendly relationships with classmates can enhance the social experience at school. Aristotle said that human beings are social animals and therefore naturally seek the company of others as part of their well being (Cohen, 2010). Students often take pleasure in joining one another for coffee breaks, lunch time and class sessions. These friendly bonds may extend outside school and can last for many years after graduation day.

Do not forget about professional and personal references that a job seeker needs when applying to places of employment, educational programs and so on. Hiring managers and school program directors often request character references from people who can vouch for the applicant’s habits and goodness. When a former student keeps in touch with his classmates, they will be more likely to offer character references for him.

Finally, classmates can help each other learn the material that is being covered in school. Groups of students who attend the same class may form study groups to learn and retain the information. Also, classmates can share the techniques they use to study for quizzes, exams, hands-on skills and reading assignments. Some classmates exchange phone numbers and may call or text each other when they need help or clarification.

Classmates function in all sorts of useful ways. They boost the size of a student’s personal network and can help in the job hunt. They are full of free knowledge and pearls of wisdom, and can enhance the schooling experience. They may serve as much-needed character references and can help each other learn the material. Since classmates are so very useful, they are of the utmost importance during a student’s time in school.

REFERENCES

Cohen, E. (2010, September 21). You Are a Social Animal. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-would-aristotle-do/201009/you-are-social-animal

Nursing Care Spotlight: Preventing Skin Tears

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First of all, a skin tear is defined as a wound or laceration caused by trauma, friction and/or shearing forces. Skin tears rip through the upper layer of the sufferer’s skin, but not the lower layer that contains the various glands and nerve endings. Skin tears happen to be the most frequently occurring type of wound in older persons due to a number of reasons related to the aging process.

The likelihood of getting a skin tear increases dramatically as the elder’s skin becomes more weakened, drier, thinner and with less elasticity due to reduced subcutaneous fat, collagen, lessened elastin fiber deposition and sebacious (oil) gland production that occurs with advanced age (Aitken, 2018). In other words, skin tears are much more common as people age due to the fact that elderly skin undergoes predictable changes.

There are two distinct types of skin tears. A partial thickness wound happens when the epidermis, also known as the top layer of skin, becomes separated from the dermis (bottom skin layer). Meanwhile, a full thickness wound is a skin tear in which both the epidermis and the dermis layers become separated from the underlying skin (Ratliff and Fletcher, 2007).

Prevention of skin tears must be a priority for a number of compelling reasons. Firstly, the majority of people who seek care from the healthcare system are 65 years of age or older, so these patients are at increased risk of developing skin tears. Secondly, skin tears do have the potential to become infected. Third, skin tears can result in pain and suffering for the afflicted person. Finally, skin tears cost money to treat and heal.

The following is a list that merely scratches the surface regarding the various ways to prevent skin tears. Keep in mind that it is far more optimal to prevent a skin tear from happening in the first place since treating and healing this type of wound can turn into a time-consuming, somewhat expensive process.

  • Utilize draw sheets when moving immobile patients in bed to reduce the chances of developing skin tears from shearing and friction forces.
  • Apply barrier creams and lotions to patients’ extremities (arms, legs, hands and feet). Dry skin is a risk factor for skin tear development, so direct care members of staff should keep the skin moisturized often.
  • Educate nurses, nursing assistants, patient care technicians, transporters, and other healthcare personnel who regularly come into contact with patients about proper transfer methods, shearing, friction, risk factors, and preventive measures.
  • If possible, remove equipment with sharp edges that might cause injury to patients’ skin. If the removal of equipment is not possible, sharp edges should be covered with padding to minimize the chances of skin tears to peoples’ skin.
  • Implement a plan to identify all inpatient populations in hospitals, extended care facilities, personal care group homes, and other healthcare centers who are at increased risk of skin tear development.

REFERENCES

Aitken, C. (2018). Skin Tears in the Elderly. Western Alliance. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.westernalliance.org.au/2018/08/skin-tears-in-the-elderly

Ratliff, C., and Fletcher, K. (2007). Skin tears: a review of the evidence to support prevention and treatment. Ostomy Wound Management, 53(3), pp. 33-42.

Brain Awareness Week: March 11 Through March 17, 2019

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This year (2019), Brain Awareness Week is to be observed for the entire week that begins on March 11th and ends on March 17th. For those that might not have been previously aware, Brain Awareness Week is a worldwide celebration of the brain. Since the brain has such a profound impact on peoples’ physical, mental, social and emotional health, Brain Awareness Week deserves to be the sole subject of an informational post.

Brain Awareness Week is a week-long celebration of the brain that was established back in 1996. Every single year, during one whole week in the month of March, Brain Awareness Week brings together the diligent work of organizations, research firms, partners and interested stakeholders on a global scale to celebrate the marvelous organ otherwise known as the brain.

In other words, Brain Awareness Week is a worldwide campaign with the intent of boosting peoples’ awareness regarding the uniqueness and importance of the brain, as well as getting the public to see the merits and beneficial aspects of clinical research involving the brain. This week is loaded with multiple opportunities to discuss the progress that revolves around brain research.

Numerous diseases affect the human brain in ways that are devastating to individuals, families, and entire populations. Brain Awareness Week provides opportunities to let people know about the progress that is being done to diagnose, treat and prevent brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, schizophrenia and depression (Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, 2019).

Brain Awareness Week is celebrated with a myriad of activities and events. According to National Day Calendar (2019), activities are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations and include open days at neuroscience labs; exhibitions about the brain; lectures on topics that pertain to the brain; social media posting campaigns; displays at libraries and community centers; classroom workshops; and so much more.

To observe Brain Awareness Week, individuals can take a look at the the BAW calendar of events to find activities that will be taking place in the region where they live. People can also post on social media outlets using the hashtags #BrainAwarenessWeek and #BrainWeek. Also, the neuroscience departments at many colleges and universities will be organizing exhibits and educational activities that are often open to the public.

REFERENCES

Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. (2019). Brain Awareness Week. Retrieved March 13, 2019 from https://www.fens.org/Outreach/FENS-Brain-Awareness-Week/

National Day Calendar. (2019). Brain Awareness Week. Retrieved March 13, 2019 from https://nationaldaycalendar.com/brain-awareness-week-changes-annually/

 

 

Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Nursing Facility Social Worker

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Firstly, social workers are educated professionals who assist people to meet unmet needs, address problems, and deal with various issues in their lives. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018), social workers work in a myriad of workplaces such as clinics, schools, social service agencies, hospitals, group homes, homeless shelters, settlement houses, community organizations, and private practices.

The main purpose of this posting is to bring light to the multifaceted role of the nursing facility social worker. The point of having a social worker in the nursing home setting is to ensure that the ongoing needs of the facility’s multiple residents are being met in a timely manner. In essence, nursing facility social workers contribute to residents’ socio-emotional well-being by working closely with them and their family members.

All nursing homes are required to have a comprehensive social service program to assure that each resident’s social and emotional needs get fulfilled. It is the social worker’s responsibility to assist in the oversight, operation, and staffing of the social services department at the nursing facility. In fact, some larger nursing homes utilize at least two social workers to manage all of the residents on their caseloads.

Social workers in nursing homes are responsible for doing admission assessments on newly admitted residents to determine their needs and make the transition to facility living easier. As soon as newly admitted nursing home residents adjust to life in the facility, the social worker involves them in the care planning process and participates in the plan of care for each resident as a member of the multidisciplinary team.

Nursing facility social workers might also complete tasks such as pre-admission screenings, provision of information on advance directives, do not resuscitate (DNR) forms, social histories, questionnaires, reviews of residents’ rights, appointment scheduling with external healthcare providers, quarterly assessments, progress notes, assistance with monetary matters, and referrals to outside professionals.

In addition to the admissions process, social workers are absolutely integral to residents’ discharge planning in nursing homes. In this sense, the discharge process may simply entail a transfer from one department (e.g., the skilled sub-acute rehabilitation wing of the nursing home) to another area, such as the long term care section of the same facility.

In the majority of other instances, a resident’s discharge involves a transfer to home, the hospital, a homeless shelter or another facility. In these types of discharges, the social worker would carefully assess the needs of the discharging resident and make arrangements to ensure that (s)he or the family is able to obtain certain goods and services that are needed once the discharge takes place.

Once the actual discharge is happening, the nursing facility social worker would assist the resident to acquire goods such as shower chairs, glucose meters, and other types of durable medical equipment (DME). The social worker would also set up important services, such as home health care, pharmacy delivery, outpatient physical therapy, community resources, and/or transportation. Social workers function as advocates.

In general, most nursing facility social workers work a full time schedule that consists of daylight hours. Furthermore, they must occasionally work evenings, weekends and holidays to catch up on their workloads. The vast majority of nursing home social workers work at a desk and have an office, although they must often visit residents and meet with families during care plan meetings.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018) asserts that the employment of healthcare social workers is projected to increase by approximately 20 percent through the year 2026, which is notably faster than the average for all occupations. Nursing home social workers remain in steady demand because of the assistance they provide to aging residents and their families while they adapt to the institutional facility lifestyle.

REFERENCES

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2018). Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-1