Thursday, November 21, 2013

Improving care for people with dementia

Lutheran Services Carolinas opened its first official Alzheimer's neighborhood in 1991, and had an unofficial one around 1989. Many providers have closed or never opened space for people with dementia; they are generally low paying Medicaid recipients and it's not a profitable business model. In spite of those obstacles LSC has lived its mission: Empowered by Christ, we walk together with all we serve! LSC now has dementia or secure neighborhoods in 7 of its 8 free standing nursing and assisted living communities! Why? It's where the need is. Why? Christ said just as you have done it to the least of these you have done it to me. LSC has partnered with the Alzheimer's Association, Duke University, and others to learn how best to care for people with dementia. But LSC has always been constructively dissatisfied with its services, always looking for a better way. LSC was involved in the founding of Leadership Leading Age to raise up leadership in our organizations across the nation. LSC has sponsored two Leadership Leading Age Fellows. That program connected LSC to the Alzheimer's Resource Center of Connecticut. LSC received a state/federal grant to send 23 LSC team members to Connecticut to see first hand one of the nation's premier Alzheimer's care orgs. Many of our staff had never flown before. The visit was lifechanging for the attendees and for LSC. This week, the Connecticut people have spent the week training LSC teams from the participating LSC communities. All week I have been hearing reports and seeing pictures of phenomenal enthusiasm, change, and growth across our ministry. We've always done a good job of caring for people with dementia, but you ain't seen nothing yet. Tomorrow I get my chance. I get to go through the training with the Trinity Oaks team. Looking forward to learning personally how better to care for those who need us most. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I am profoundly disappointed with our North Carolina state government. Our state is figuratively strangling some of the most vulnerable people in NC, specifically indigent nursing home residents! The state has not increased the rate that Medicaid pays for nursing home care in four years, that's 4 years!!! Our great nurses and nursing assistants rightly demand a wage increase every year. If they don't get more money, they can go somewhere else. The people that work at LSC aren't asking for the moon, but just enough to get by. And the price of food and electricity and gas keeps rising for LSC just like it does in our own homes. In the language of the farmers I grew up with, we are eating our seed corn. Lutheran Services Carolinas' seed corn is low turnover, quality care, and quality of life, all the things that make LSC communities a great place to live. How do we sustain what we have built for 50 years when we haven't had an increase in four years? And it gets worse. On January 1, 2014, every indigent nursing home resident in the state will be hit with a 3% Medicaid rate cut! Now, the law says that by January 1, 2015 the state is to decide on a plan to give us some of that money back in some type of "quality" incentive, but no one has decided on what that criteria might look like and if we get all, part, or none of that money back. It appears the cart is way ahead of the horse. It seems like we should have created a plan, then implemented the plan. We have implemented a plan, now we have to decide what the plan is. This rate cut is evidence of a larger problem. Nursing home expenditures are not the state's problem. Nursing home expenditures are stable. But Medicaid is rapidly expanding to cover more and more people. Somebody has to pay for that. Isn't it a shame that the poorest, oldest citizens in our state are bearing that burden? That is the disappointment!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fab 50!!!!

On Monday, October 21, 2013 I joined about 100 people at the Hilton, Charlotte for a banquet in honor of the ten Fabulous 50 honorees from our District of our state health care association. Fab 50 winners are nominated by their peers and represent the very best direct care workers in North Carolina. Lutheran Services Carolinas had 3 of the ten honorees: Sherron Barnes from Trinity Oaks in Salisbury, Paulette Powell from Trinity Ridge in Hickory, and Noel Hathcock from Trinity Place in Albemarle! They were accompanied by their proud administrators (Bill Johnson, Tonya Hilliard, and Courtney Adams, respectively), their families, and some of their coworkers. COO Kesha Smith and I joined the party. It’s not often we get to visit, eat a great meal, and celebrate such important people. Sherron, Paulette, and Noel were gracious and spoke after receiving their individual awards, as did the other seven winners. One of the things that always impresses me most, and I have been to almost every Fab 50 event since it started, is that the honorees all say almost the same thing, but in their own unique and wonderful words about their vocation. It isn’t a job, it’s a vocation, a calling! Those words are what help keep me going till next year’s event, and are the words I want to share with you. Here’s what I got to hear: the glory belongs to God!, love to care, serve, we are all family, I treat others like I want to be treated, love the hugs and kisses, above and beyond, “my” residents, I do it out of love, without the residents we wouldn’t be here tonight, and on and on! Wow! I’m sorry that my words can’t do justice to the outpouring of love and devotion I see at each annual Fab 50 event. These ten are among the best caregivers in North Carolina. And there are hundreds more back home caring for people while we are at the banquet. So go visit your local health care community this week and thank those direct care workers! Call a CNA you know and thank them for their service; they make the world go round!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Below is the Lutheran Services Carolinas 2012-2013 Annual Community Stewardship Report, which highlights the great work and community benefit that happens through LSC.  Enjoy!

Community Stewardship Report – 2012/2013

In 2011, Lutheran Services for the Aging (LSA), established in 1960, affiliated with Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas (LFS), a social ministry established in 1976 that has provided foster care, adoption, and veteran’s services as well as refugee resettlement, disaster response, residential care for people with disabilities and other services for vulnerable populations in both North and South Carolina. 

In June 2012, the Boards of LSA and LFS approved the name Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) for this new collective ministry.  The ministries of LSA are, generally speaking, represented by LSC senior services and the ministries of LFS are represented by LSC child and family services.

The new name is a reflection of the affiliation and represents the coming together of two long-established social ministries, who together have provided nearly 90 years of combined service to the people of the Carolinas.

The introduction of that new name also included new names for some LSC senior services programs, including the Lutheran Homes. LSC’s Lutheran Home - Hickory is now Trinity Village; Lutheran Home - Albemarle is now Trinity Place; and Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks is simply Trinity Oaks.

Though the Lutheran Homes have proudly and compassionately served thousands of frail elders and others since 1962, sadly, the word Lutheran can make non-Lutherans feel excluded. The name Trinity was chosen as a strong and more inclusive name for these faith-based LSC ministries.

Also changing to the Trinity name were Abundant Living Adult Day Services, which has become Trinity Living Center; Elms at Tanglewood, which has become Trinity Elms; and Crescent View Retirement Community, which has become Trinity View.

LSC senior services opened its first ministry, a Hickory nursing home, in 1962 and has since expanded its services to include both frail and active seniors.  In 2012, 364,367 days of care and services were delivered to 2,474 older adults.  More than 1,400 employees delivered those services, and 2,363 volunteers supported residents, clients, and staff with 22,375 hours of volunteer work.

Recently, LSC has initiated the expansion of its home and community-based services by assuming the administration of the Rowan County Family Caregiver Support Program.  LSC is also a partner in PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), which opened January 2012 in Catawba County. In addition, LSC is collaborating in the development of PACE initiatives in Forsyth and Gaston Counties and in the development of SearStone, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Cary. 

Today, LSC senior services is ranked as the 51st largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the United States and ranks 23rd in the provision of not-for-profit nursing home beds with an annual budget of nearly $100 million.  

In June 2010, LSC, then LSA, launched a $5 million capital campaign to add four new nursing homes, improve existing buildings, and expand home and community-based services.  The first of those homes, Trinity Grove, admitted its first resident June 6, 2011; the next nursing home, Trinity Glen, opened in June 2012, and Trinity Ridge will open in July 2013.

LSC seeks to serve and strengthen the communities in which they are located as indicated by the following:

  • Nursing homes in Albemarle, Hickory (2), Salisbury, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem (2)
  • Assisted living in Salisbury, Hickory, Arden, and Clemmons
  • Independent living apartments at Trinity Oaks
  • Independent living in a continuing care retirement center in Salisbury
  • Independent living in a rental retirement community in Arden
  • Specialized care for people with dementia in Hickory, Salisbury, Clemmons, and Wilmington
  • Adult day services with specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia in Salisbury
  • Partnership in adult day services in Hickory
  • Caregiver support in Rowan County
  • Co-sponsorship of a HUD low-income elderly housing project in Hickory
  • Rehabilitation services for post-acute and post-surgery patients at all nursing homes
  • Respite care
  • Hospice care
  • Information and referral services for Lutheran congregations across the state
  • Geriatric care management on a contract basis throughout the state
  • Emergency shelter assistance for disaster relief or elders at risk

  • Project Linus – creating blankets and dolls for newborns of area hospitals
  • Cultural diversity events
  • Support of civic groups through memberships and fundraisers
  • Habitat for Humanity volunteers
  • Victory Junction toys and blankets for children with disabilities
  • Salisbury Symphony volunteers
  • Literacy Council volunteers
  • North Carolina Transportation Museum volunteers
  • Public library volunteers
  • Provided stuffed animals to children in crisis
  • Provided health and hygiene supplies for disaster relief
  • Hospice volunteers
  • United Way volunteers
  • Humane Society volunteers
  • Trinity View Singers perform at area health care facilities
  • Trinity Oaks Ringers and Singers perform at area health care facilities
  • Lap robes and crafts for nursing home and assisted living residents within and outside of LSA homes
  • Tray favors for Meals-on-Wheels recipients
  • Rowan Helping Ministries, Rowan Regional Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, and American Red Cross volunteers
  • In-house volunteers
  • Various programs for soldiers overseas
  • Donations to food pantries, homeless shelters, libraries
  • Samaritan’s Purse shoeboxes
  • Gifts for Christmas to various organizations
  • Safe Halloween trick-or-treat nights
  • Community Easter egg hunts
  • Ministerial appreciation events

  • Student internships for healthcare management or administration, business, recreation, psychology, sociology, and religion
  • Intergenerational computer training and activities
  • Provide service opportunities for student volunteers
  • Preceptors for healthcare administrator AITs (administrators-in-training)
  • Community college sites for classroom and clinical training for certified nursing assistant and CNA II programs
  • Provide school supplies
  • Mentors for college students
  • Mentors for children at risk
  • RN and LPN clinical training site for colleges and community colleges
  • Clinical site for high school occupational training programs
  • Vocational training site for exceptional children’s program
  • Variety of school projects

  • Health educational programs open to the public on issues relating to personal health, Alzheimer’s, etc.
  • Alzheimer’s support groups
  • Grief support groups
  • Participation in local health fairs
  • Information and referral program
  • Speaker’s Bureau
  • Blood pressure checks

  • Share information with all constituents on important issues such as adequate Medicaid funding, senior services, long term care
  • Member Rowan L.I.F.E (Life Improvement For Everyone)
  • Participation in civic organizations such as Civitans, Rotary, Kiwanis, Altrusa
  • Diversity training/awareness for residents, staff, and communities
  • African Descent Strategy Team of the NC Lutheran Synod
  • Member of Board of Directors N.C. Health Care Facilities Association
  • Member Board of Directors Wellspring Institute
  • Member of LeadingAge
  • N.C. Journal of Medicine Editorial Board
  • Member American Health Care Association
  • Board of Directors of Lutheran Services in America
  • Member chambers of commerce across all service areas
  • Member of other local and state committees and task forces

  • Recycling programs
  • Waste reduction programs
  • Ecologically-sensitive decisions in construction and development projects
  • Recycle computer/technology items
  • Recycle medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.)

  • Food drives
  • Clothing drives
  • Host Senior Games
  • Host community disaster preparedness events
  • Provide volunteer opportunities for the community
  • Provide concert site for school performers, bands, and choirs
  • Provide concert site for symphony
  • Host luncheons for area centenarians
  • United Way Day of Caring
  • Humane Society support
  • Domestic violence shelter support
  • American Cancer Society fundraisers
  • Relay for Life fundraisers
  • American Heart Association fundraisers
  • Leukemia and lymphoma fundraisers
  • Alzheimer’s Memory Walks
  • American Red Cross Blood drives
  • Alzheimer’s Support Group host and sponsor
  • Provide community service opportunities
  • Stanly Community College Service Learning Programs (vocational training)
  • Provide badge opportunities for scouting
  • Stanly County Youth in Transition Program (employment training)
  • Group Homes for the Autistic (employment and skills training)
  • Stanly Partnership for End of Life Care
  • Nursing scholarships
  • Suzuki School of the Arts performance site
  • Bridges programs to encourage students and classes to visit residents
  • Adopt-A-Grandparent programs
  • School supply drive
  • Campbell’s label collection for schools
  • Bucket Brigade for disasters
  • Christmas presents for needy children
  • Voter registration program
  • Provide meeting space for various groups, Rotary, Lions, Knights of Columbus, church groups, Girl Scouts, ombudsmen, community organizations
  • Community service work program
  • Thank you meals for area emergency service personnel
  • Collect and recycle used eyeglasses
  • Donate walkers, wheelchairs, etc. to Salvation Army, others
  • Donate Physician’s Desk Reference books to nursing programs
  • Donate medications to county community care clinics

  • Partner with St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Bethany Lutheran Church in sponsorship of Lutherhaus, Inc., a 50-apartment HUD low-income, elderly housing complex in Hickory
  • Partner with Adult Life Programs, Inc. in ownership of an adult day care building on the campus of Trinity Village (Lutheran Home – Hickory)
  • Partner with Lutheridge, Inc. in a land lease for Trinity View (Crescent View Retirement Center) on the Lutheridge campus
  • Agreements between LSC and Salisbury Academy, Catawba College, Livingstone College, Hood Theological Seminary, Caldwell County Community College, Catawba Valley Community College, Stanly Community College, Forsyth Community College, and Winston-Salem State University to promote institutional and personal collaboration and friendship.

On the child and family services side, LSC:

  • Helped 60 veterans in North and South Carolina transition from homelessness back to dignity and self-sufficiency.

  • Protected 419 children at risk of abuse and neglect in foster care.

  • Improved the lives of 45 people battling severe and persistent mental illness by providing them with services to prevent unnecessary or repeated hospital admissions.

  • Placed 19 children in loving adoptive homes.

  • Provided sanctuary to more than 300 refugees and continued supportive services to over 500 other recent arrivals.

  • Helped more than 300 families avoid homelessness through supportive services and life-skills training; provided homes, care, and support to nearly 100 people with developmental disabilities or similar life challenges; and provided counseling services to more than 80 men and women in crisis.

Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love, care, compassion, and respect encompass the work of the LSC ministries.  All who work with LSC work with integrity and in a transparent manner.