Thursday, June 2, 2016
NHS/AVS Expands their Technology Efforts in Philadelphia
In recent months, NHS/AVS at Verree Road in Philadelphia has undertaken three projects that benefit the needs of the individuals by enhancing their environment. They have focused on three very special projects over the past year, including a Memory Care Apartment, for persons affected by dementia, an additional sensory area for the individuals of Apartment #8, and the application of AbleLink Assistive Technology, giving individuals direct opportunity to employ the use of computers. A team of staff assisted in the development of a plan to make environmental changes to Apartment #3, as Verree staff continue to develop the Memory Care Apartment. Apartment #3 is home to eight women, three of whom have been diagnosed with Dementia. Three employees from the Verree Road facility attended additional training to learn techniques around the impact of dementia. A few simple changes were made to the environment to better assist individuals in coping with the progression. Contrasting color was added around all doorways, personalized room identification shadow boxes mark the locations of their rooms, and special attention is paid to the timing of the blinds being shut, and the intentional reduction of distracting objects. The changes have been beneficial and the individuals enjoyed planning and assisting with the changes.
The Department Heads and front line staff within the facility felt that more sensory time was warranted for daily activities. Sensory activities can assist a person to be prepared for routines or interaction with others. The Recreation Therapists (Charles Tribe and Cynthia Williams) received additional sensory training in Western Pennsylvania. Planning was completed and some necessary room changes were made. A second sensory area within Apartment #8 has been constructed. The individuals have formal goal planning in the room and others are utilizing the environment as a calming experience. The renovation of the room was made possible by the NHS/AVS Nicoden Fund.
Third and perhaps most exciting, Verree Road has implemented assistive technology in the facility. A committee began working with NHS technology experts responsible for the Communications Technology Demonstration Project in August 2015 . Twenty-five individuals and their families were identified, based upon their interest in email or the use of Skype, to communicate with one another. Such access also provides the individuals who reside at Verree Road an opportunity to improve their social, recreational and communication skills. A new admission to Verree began to use the technology immediately to help him adjust to his move. This gentleman can communicate with his former housemates via Skype and to meet new friends at the Edward J. Zapp Center, in Coraopolis, PA. He also speaks with his support Psychologist, about his move, via Skype. He has enjoyed “Skyping” and meeting new friends. When his session is complete, he has a big smile on his face, and has thanked the Verree Road staff for giving him the opportunity to be involved in the project.
Another project benefitting all of those who live and work at Verree Road is the use of digital communication via large screen. Looping messages about the facility, the staff and daily and monthly events are communicated via television screen. Special events, important training reminders and information to include employee milestones are included to better inform staff and visitors of monthly events. Many staff and families have remarked on the use of pictures to assist them in getting to know colleagues and staff better.