Patient Safety Fellows Propose Innovative Models for Senior Living and Care

This summer's Patient Safety Fellowship concluded at the end of July, as groups of fellows presented four alternative and novel models of safer, better options for seniors across a variety of care and living contexts. The dearth of workers in long-term care and the pressing need for creative solutions in senior care and senior living drove the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) to focus its annual Patient Safety Fellowship on exploring new models. Throughout the summer fellowship, participants learned about the complex arena of long-term care, where safety challenges and opportunities exist, and the key components that could establish a brighter future for aging Americans. Some of the region's and nation's best leaders in integrating safety and innovation to senior care provided inspiration and guidance for the final projects. 

Twenty-nine fellows, representing over 20 disciplines in health care, informatics, public health, medicine, dentistry, and more, explored existing and conceptual models for transforming our community and healthcare systems to better serve seniors. Each week, the fellows were introduced to a critical component of senior living and senior care and were asked to apply that concept to an assigned case study. Integrating their learning from throughout the fellowship, four groups of fellows developed their own unique models to best fit their case's needs. During the finale, the fellows presented their models to an audience of 18, including members of JHF's Senior Residential Living Full Court Press Team, JHF Board members, and guest lecturers from the fellowship.

The first group proposed the Urban Aging model for their case study, emphasizing independence and lifestyle in an urban setting through creating an intergenerational community with cottage-housing, green space, and smart-technology integrated in the home. Another group outlined the Comprehensive Memory Care Model, which consists of a household-style assisted memory care facility within a neighborhood community for those with dementia and focuses on nutrition, pain management, and social engagement. A third group proposed the Pittsburgh Caring Home Model, combining a small house community model with embedded clinical and personal care services, with staff as the linchpin to providing wrap-around services for the physical and social well-being of residents. The final group outlined the Magic LIFE Model, an intergenerational, apartment complex-style housing model embedded with smart home technology including programming that builds personalized care plans and leverages LIFE/PACE programs as needed. Following the presentations, guests, fellows and JHF staff addressed questions and raised issues on the current trajectory of long-term care, discussing considerations on physical space, policy issues (such as staff-resident ratios), and methods to push for new and better ways to care for seniors.

Reflecting on her experience, fellow Kara Kalinowski, candidate in Robert Morris University's master of health service administration program and member of UPMC's Commercial Member Services team, said, "My work is centered around healthcare consulting with the VA, and this fellowship also coincides with my last semester of my master's program with health administration. The knowledge I have gained from this Fellowship will help me be a better consultant and will give me insight as to opportunities and areas for innovation in future consulting plans for veterans."

Leading up to the finale, the fellows had the opportunity to meet with key staff from four local senior living and senior care organizations at the beginning of July: Community LIFE, Cross Keys Village, The Jewish Association on Aging's AHAVA Memory Care Center of Excellence, and Vincentian Collaborative System. Each of these organizations dove into their best practice models, illustrated existing challenges, and described how they are working to address safety and quality of life. During the session entitled Entry and Exit of Workers in Long-Term Care, with Anne Ellett, MSN, NP, founder and executive director of Memory Care Support; Valerie Njie, MS, from Bidwell Training Center; Kezia Scales, PhD, director of policy research at PHI National; and Amy York, executive director at Eldercare Workforce Alliance, fellows had the opportunity to learn about the myriad of challenges facing the long-term care workforce and how creating better pipelines and career ladders ties into efforts of improving safety. During the New Designs with Seniors in Mind session with Diana Anderson, MD, MArch, principal at Jacobs and dochitect; Melissa DeStout, AIA, LEED AP, CPHD, senior associate at Perkins-Eastman; and Max Winters, RA, senior associate at Perkins-Eastman, fellows learned about the influence of design, layout, and architecture on safety and wellbeing, the ethical implications of their decisions, and the role of architects in shaping the long-term care options of the future.

"The Fellowship provided so many great perspectives and resources," said fellow Samuel Viggiano, health informatics graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh and financial administrator for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The engagement tools employed throughout the online experience were wonderful, and I recommended them to professors and program administrators for use in our program. In the long term, I hope I can be an advocate for new models, volunteer, and build relationships in the community."

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