August 2020

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Conversations with Ginny

“There simply is no stronger resolve than that of the inspired human spirit.” Luis A. Flores

LeadingAge Georgia is hosting Zoom meetups for various groups who want to share knowledge during these uncharted times. During a recent meetup with HR professionals, someone asked how staff are holding up.  Another person answered saying the resident’s frustrations are wearing on the staff.

At a recent virtual board meeting, members discussed their biggest challenges and you know what the number one issue the board members voiced? The emotional toll the coronavirus is taking on residents and staff.  

On our afternoon calls, Ruth Katz, our beloved head of the LeadingAge National public policy team tells us “stay strong and hold each other up.” You all are staying strong because your calling to serve older adults is the foundation of who you are and what you do. Still, we all need to be inspired.  

I encourage you to attend the LeadingAge Georgia Virtual Conference coming up on August 24-26.  Since we don’t have to pay the hotel costs, we’ve adjusted the registration fee.  If you registered already at the in-person rate, we invite you to register a second person at no charge.  We have some incredible speakers and timely topics lined up for you. You’ll be able to get over 30 CEU hours and best of all, if you attend you will be inspired. See below for some highlights of the conference.

Click HERE to see the program and to register.  

I hope that you are as inspired as I am about the public policy wins that LeadingAge National has had on behalf of members!  They have really earned the “Leading” in the LeadingAge name through the coronavirus pandemic!  LeadingAge National is asking all of us across the country to advocate for “Act For Older Adults” which demands urgently needed COVID-19 protections for older adults and staff in our communities and community-based services.  If you haven’t contacted our Senators yet, click HERE and help make some great changes.

In case you haven’t heard, we submitted a legislative issue for consideration to the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly.  Our issue, funding for behavioral health coaches in HUD communities was chosen and we will be working on it when the session convenes in January.  We have great leadership in our public policy committee chair, Terry Barcroft, CEO of Wesley Woods Senior Living.  She’s working hard on our behalf on advocacy efforts and with the media.  

Our recent Zoom meetup with chaplains was very inspiring and everyone seemed to be glad to be with each other and share ideas.  One thing that the chaplains said that was very interesting is they thought residents might be reluctant to have virtual conversations and were pleasantly surprised how receptive the residents were to Zoom meetings and telephone calls.  One said the residents seem to really appreciate the chaplain calling and praying for them.  

If there is a Zoom group meetup that you want us to host, please contact me at and we will get it scheduled.  We are working on a number of public policy issues and encourage you to let us know if there is an issue you want us to work on.  

Thank you for all you do to create and maintain cultures of well-being for older adults and those who serve them.            


Highlights of Our Upcoming Conference

We’re super excited about our keynote speaker for the conference, Jan McInnis, who will teach us the skill of how to use humor in business to deal with change, diffusing tension and improving communication. She wrote monologues for Jay Leno so she has to be pretty special!

Dan Reingold and Zachary Palace, MD will share their magic for true palliative care including how they’ve used medical marijuana at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale for controlling pain.  Dan has been honored by LeadingAge National for innovation.
Epidemiologists Drs. Joan Duwve and Brannon Traxler will share insights on the trends of the coronavirus and impact on older adults.  

Katie Sloan will check in with us and share how working together we can accomplish great things on behalf of older adults. Larry Minnix will make us laugh and rekindle our the fire in our hearts for serving in our field as he shares insights on What’s Your REAL Job?
We’re excited that there will be great information on serving middle markets, practical information on issues like the impact of Covid-19 on senior living insurance, exciting information like reimagining programs and services in a life plan community and a session with Lisa Tunick who is the go-to for legal issues with HUD.  Lisa and our own Karon Winston, president of the Georgia Institute on Aging board will share a success story regarding getting HUD approval for accessing funds for a major renovation.

At a quality improvement meeting to discuss reducing use of antipsychotics in nursing homes, nurses identified bath-time as the number one time resident’s agitation leads to a call to the medical director to ask for medication.  A.G. Rhodes and Simple C partnered together to make better showers with personalized music.  Anyone working in long-term care should attend this session!

We’re fortunate to have Gates Dunaway share strategies for maximizing income for long-term preservation in Section 8 housing.  Our own Kyle Huhtanen, LeadingAge Georgia board member along with John Hoover of Choate Construction will share how to keep residents safe and happy while working on an occupied campus.  

There are a number of sessions on keeping residents safe during the coronavirus including a session on reducing airborne virus exposure. We’ll have a session on stimulus funding available to healthcare providers by our partners Jeff Fucito, Ross Cannon (GIA board member) and Jon Schultz of Mauldin & Jenkins.

A huge thank you to Scott Bassett and our professional development committee for planning a great conference!  I invite you to shoot an email to the professional development team and say thank you.  Members include George Tucker, Liana Sisco, Julie Parker, Suzanne Brown, Tia Copeland, Karon Winston, Laura Rice, Walter Constantine and Antoinette Sturm. We hope you enjoy the conference.

Click HERE for more information.

What You Need to Know NOW About New Disaster Preparedness Rules for Personal Care Homes 25 Beds or Larger, Assisted Living Communities or Nursing Homes Not Certified by CMS

The Georgia Department of Community Health has developed new disaster preparedness rules in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposed rules will be presented to the DCH Board this Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 10:30 and a public comment hearing will be held the same day at 11 am.

Here's the LINK for the hearing on Thursday.

You will be able to submit comments up until September 18th.
Click HERE to provide comments.
Click HERE for the proposed rules.  
Click HERE for information on the details of the public notice for the rules change.

Final adoption of the rules will be on October 8, 2020. Once the rules are final, DCH will begin surveying those requirements.

Here is a summary of the proposed rule changes:
To be in compliance with the new requirements, it is important to note that each resident and direct care staff person in a long-term care facility (personal care home with 25 beds or more, an assisted living or licensed nursing home not certified by CMS) shall be required to receive an initial baseline molecular SARS CoV-2 test as outlined by the CDC, by September 28, 2020. The law from which the rules were based expounds on this with the following language “provided however, that residents and direct care staff persons tested prior to the effective date of this Act shall not be required to receive such test.”

Each personal care home with 25 beds or more, each assisted living community, and each licensed nursing home (not licensed by CMS and governed by their rules) shall:

Maintain a minimum of a seven-day supply of protective masks, surgical gowns, eye protection and gloves sufficient to protect all residents and staff;

Maintain and publish for its residents and their representatives policies and procedures pertaining to infection control.

As part of the facilities disaster preparedness plan, include plan for influenza and other infectious diseases which conforms to department and CDC standards. See details about surveillance, communication plan, training and plan regarding visitation, cohorting measures, surge capacity plan that addresses contingency staffing and supply shortages.

Each personal care home with 25 beds or more, each assisted living community, and each licensed nursing home is required to inform its residents and their representatives or legal surrogates by 5 pm the next calendar day following the occurrence of either a single confirmed infection of COVID-19 or another airborne infectious disease identified by the department or the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention as a threat to public health, or there or more residents or staff with new-onset of respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other. The information shall not include identifiable information; include information on mitigation actions. Updates are required.

Keeping Person-Centered Care Alive During the Coronavirus

It’s been said that person-centered care is slipping during the pandemic. Training can help foster this important foundation of well-being. Eden Associate on-line training is kicking off on September 8th. The training will be super convenient with one and a half-hour classes on Tuesdays over eleven weeks. Attendees will become Certified Eden Associates. The teachers are Walter Coffey and Kim McCrae. There are scholarships for nursing home staff and there is a discounted rate of $500 for all LeadingAge Georgia members.

Click HERE for more information.

John Franklin Shares Insights in His New Paper: How Do We Hire Good People and Then Keep Them

John Franklin is a favorite thought leader for many of our members.  His new paper on hiring and retaining good people has the same magic that he’s brought to other topics in the past. Look for the nuggets in his new paper and enjoy what you read about his case study on Presbyterian Homes of Georgia.  He recognizes them for embracing the concept that “heart skills” are equally or even more important than “job skills.”  Click HERE to read the article.

Science Explains Why Uncertainty Is So Hard on Our Brain and How to Knock Out Its Effects

“Uncertainty is like rocket fuel for worry; it causes people to see threats everywhere they look, and more likely to react emotionally in response to those threats,” says author Markham Heid referencing a study in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Heid also provides some pointers for limiting anxiety and frustration. He says researchers Michelle Newman, director of the Laboratory for Anxiety and Depression Research at Penn State and Jack Nitschke of the University of Wisconsin say focusing on the present can help dispel uncertainty and the anxiety it foments.” “Do things you enjoy,” says Nitschke. Heid said Newman also recommends trying mindfulness, reading a book, watching a little Netflix or talking to a friend on the phone – something that gets your brain into the present moment.

Heid writes that Nitschke cautions “worrying is unhelpful” and even worse – “your worrying will breed more worry.” Heid shares that Michelle Newman recommends carving out a set time – say twenty minutes a day to worry. She says to pick a place – not associated with work or sleep or leisure and train your brain to confine its worrying to a convenient time and place.

Heid says “occupying your brain with work, chores, entertainment or other activities unrelated to the source of your uncertainty may be the best way to shrink it down to a manageable size.”

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