Why Support and Nurture Mental Health Practices in Nursing Homes

Read about a regional visit to support CoHealth's Texas nursing home practice, meet LTC physicians and other gatekeepers, and value our providers' commitment.


San Diego, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/06/2013 -- At a recent nursing home trade association’s summer conference, about 75 attendees listened to my presentation on reducing unnecessary psychotropic medications in nursing homes. The premise of my talk was that problems in behavioral, cognitive, and emotional functioning in NH residents occur for a reason, intentional or not, and when we understand that the deleterious effects of dementia and psychiatric disorders produce extraordinary caregiving needs, staff can individually tailor the caregiving approaches for each resident and often avoid p.r.n. medications. More long term care training.

Following the presentation, I flew to Texas for a few days. CoHealth maintains a group practice in north and west Texas, where our behavioral health practitioners provide services to residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These regional visits are an essential part of supporting and nurturing our practices, where the days focus on meetings with our Regional Director and our psychologists, visiting client facilities - currently under contract and prospective homes - and building relationships with physicians, facility owners, and other industry “gatekeepers”. This is routine activity for the professional practice manager, and something I have done since the early 1990’s.

One of the challenges in practice management is balancing quality care with the vagaries of different nursing home administrators. We hear that the “customer is always right”, but sometimes not so, and supporting the mental health practitioner becomes the only recourse after receiving critical or negative feedback from an administrator. The psychologist who commits to working in these settings, with less than ideal conditions, overworked staff, difficult residents, and cramped space, often needs a little extra recognition for this commitment. In the majority cases, though, nursing home and assisted living directors are very receptive to mental health services, and adamant that their residents receive professional care for depression, difficulty adjusting to losses, and hopelessness about their remaining years or months.

Despite the challenges, there are many positives - many more than the negatives - about practice management, including fostering the relationships and friendships with the professionals working in our group as well as meeting newcomers. For practitioners, the opportunity to discuss, as we did during a breakfast meeting last week, the common frustrations and solutions to this work with older adults goes a long way. Then, over dinner, presenting to a group of LTC physicians and nursing home owners on the benefits of mental health services with the acute and chronic care nursing home population, not only in terms of quality of life, but more successful rehab stays, improved compliance, and reduced burden of care, is quite rewarding.

Mental health services in long term care is not new. What is new, however, it that it has become a vital component of comprehensive care to the older adult, and has now achieved specialty status for the mental health practitioner. Supporting and nurturing mental health practices in nursing homes just seems like the right thing to do.

This month, on our website, we are featuring an inservice program, Managing Depression in Nursing Homes, at a discounted rate. Take advantage of the price reduction for a complete training package, with trainer notes, lesson plan, post test, and handouts -- all the information needed to give caregivers the tools to better manage depression in this population.

About Concept Healthcare, LLC
Our companies are comprised of clinical and administrative staff, all dedicated to raising the psychological dimensions of aging, and to offer behavioral approaches to everyone on the caregiving continuum, from professionals to family. This is the common thread that weaves through all of our services, our consultation, our training, and our products.

Concept Healthcare, LLC, is the parent company that sponsors training programs via the CoHealth Institute and sponsors the consultation we provide. It also serves as the management services organization for the CoHealth Care Group, comprising our two professional corporations, Concept Healthcare Psychology Group, Inc. (California) and CoHealth Psychology Group, P.A. (Texas).

The principal behind these companies and their concepts is Joseph M. Casciani, PhD. For 30 years, he has focused on and committed himself to the field of aging and mental health, and to the profession of geropsychology.