Spectrum 1 News Ohio

RESTORE-Skills featured on Spectrum 1 News Ohio

Below is an excerpt from the story from Spectrum 1 News Ohio:

CLEVELAND — Elizabeth Sims and her caregiver admit that since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, things haven’t been the same at The Heights Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Broadview Heights. Pandemic restrictions have cut out communal dining, team exercise and group therapy at facility.

“Before, we used to be able to be down in the therapy gym. So, it would be fun because they're all around people; you could play games and now, you're really stuck in the rooms with the patients,” Sims says.

Things have taken a turn for the better at the facility. Residents started connecting virtually through RESTORE-Skills, a computer based motivational therapy platform with a multiplayer function that now allows patients the ability to play skill-building games with one another.

“At least they can interact and you're using technology and they can still get involved and do some kind of fun…and it helps her cognitive skills.”  Tina Wilson’s caregiver says.

Check out the full interview with our CEO, Eran Arden, and the team from The Heights HERE!

abc7 San Francisco

RESTORE featured on ABC7 San Francisco

Below is an excerpt from the story from ABC7 News San Francisco:

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Health is an important aspect of Building a Better Bay Area.

As patients at care facilities are dealing with prolonged social isolation with visits from families curtailed or not allowed, caregivers are turning to multi-player skill games to improve patient outcomes.

Bingo has always been a popular way to engage patients in care facilities to use their minds, hands, and arms. COVID-19 has not only stopped that, but also visits from loved ones.
"If we don't have friends and peers to work with, then you know, then we, unfortunately, don't have the motivation to practice and to live longer," said Eran Arden, CEO at Restore Skills. RESTORE-Skills is a cloud-based platform with a library of 50 games that occupational therapists can use for rehabilitation and skills development.
51-year-old Mike Willham has multiple sclerosis. Moving a ball in his hand to play a slot machine game is more than just having fun at winning jackpots. "It allows me to move my left arm from side to side and up and down. And it has built up strength in the left arm," said Willham as he made those moves. An up and down motion with the ball caused the arm on the slot machine to activate."
It's helping with cognition, it helps with fine motor, gross motor coordination, strengthening," said Carrie Blum, an occupational therapy assistant at The Heights Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center. "It's been helping with their endurance and activity tolerance."

Check out the full interview with our CEO, Eran Arden, and the team from The Heights HERE!

Falls Prevention

Q&A: Falls Prevention

Question: 

How can we utilize RESTORE with our patients in support of falls prevention?

Answer:

Great question. To start we have to consider the physical and cognitive components required for a comprehensive falls prevention approach:

  • Core and lower body strengthening (squats, lunges, etc.) to improve center of gravity control, stability to support sitting and standing
  • Static and dynamic sitting and standing balance (no reaching, single extremity reach, bilateral hands-free isolated and integrated movement patterns)
  • Weight-shifting, lateral mobility, forward/backward mobility
  • Activity tolerance for posture, movement required for completion of self-care, leisure skills, home and community management
  • Sustained attention, concentration, visual scanning, sequencing, safety awareness, decision making, following commands/direction 

RESTORE can be used in support of each component. Progress can be accelerated by combining functional skill-building with immersive, interactive content (preferably person-centered based on the expressed interests of the player). Let’s consider the following:

 

  • Game controllers calibrate to most red, green, blue objects. 

 

  • If working on functional reaching, select objects appropriate to maintain grasp/hand control or optimized for patients with only gross motor extremity control 
  • The calibrated controller for mobility should optimally have a center of the body placement (between chest and abdomen) so the player can maintain hands-free (especially if in need of assistive device)
  • Use the controller/camera view box (camera or white box in the lower right portion of the screen which tracks controller connection) to assist with patient positioning based on desired movement patterns
  •  

    • Game settings and webcam settings can be graded based on the current physical and cognitive abilities of your player:

     

    • Backgrounds can be adjusted for greater contrast or to simplify visual display
    • Speeds and difficulty can be ranged from easiest to most difficult
    • Music and effects can be varied for appropriate encouragement and engagement
    • Range of motion capture can be reduced for players with limitations or expanded for those with full range capabilities
      • Best for games challenging a combination of up/down, left/right, and diagonal movement patterns
      • Best for games challenging a combination of up/down and left/right movement patterns
      • Best for game challenging left/right movement patterns in sitting, and left/right, forward/backward movement patterns in standing
    • Webcam setting options
    • Full, medium, small screen capture
    • Large, medium, small circular capture (narrows capture from square to circular configuration) 
    • Large, medium, small semi-circular capture (maintains top screen circular capture, but removes bottom screen circular capture requirement

     

    Demonstrate intended movements and explain why they are critical components to limiting or preventing falls

    • Patients are often fearful of falling. Having the ability to pattern their movements after seeing the therapist in action, can instill greater understanding and confidence 

     

    • Determine which skill areas you plan to target and match the game(s) with your plan. A few to consider with default game duration:

     

    • Ski Saga (default is 3 minutes). Players can control a skier in a race by stepping/shifting left/right and squatting, or up/down, left/right upper extremity movements to avoid obstacles, slalom between flags, and obtain coins and gems. Bonus points awarded after 10+ successful obstacle navigations
    • Ancient Temple (no set time limit). Players use both hands, sitting or standing, in an alternating up/down movement pattern to simulate rock climbing, with various integrated movement patterns included to challenge this treasure hunt adventure 
    • Spooky Spiders (default 3 minutes). Players utilize a dynamic, upper extremity or mobility, range to shoo away spiders of all sizes dropping/climbing vertically while watching out for a chance to knock a witch off her broom flying horizontally across the screen 
    • Bounce It (default 2 minutes). Players align with a silhouette, sitting or standing,  and can use their knees, feet in an upward motion to connect and juggle a soccer ball.

     

    When players (patients) are having fun and engaged they focus less on targeted skills and more on the game. They have less anxiety or frustration overcoming gravity and a fear of falling, when not focused on that fear every second. When a player demonstrates appropriate control, sustained action, adequate activity tolerance, and desired cognitive function that is when it is most beneficial to follow up a RESTORE session with a functional activity as they will now have the confidence to complete successfully.

    RESTORE Self-Feeding Skills

    Q&A: Self-Feeding Goals

    Question: 

    How can RESTORE help therapists to support self-feeding goals with patients?

    Answer:

    Great question. To start we have to consider the physical and cognitive components required for self-feeding:

    • Ability to bring hand to mouth
    • Ability to apply and sustain proper grasp or prehension to a utensil or finger food item
    • Activity tolerance for posture, movement for anticipated feeding duration
    • Sustained attention, concentration, problem-solving, sequencing

    RESTORE can be used in support of each component. Progress can be accelerated by combining functional skill-building with immersive, interactive content (preferably person-centered based on the expressed interests of the player). Let’s consider the following:

    • Game controllers calibrate to most red, green, blue objects. 
      • If working on up/down movements with hands for finger food, select objects to replicate prehension or grasp
      • You may even consider real food items in the color family such as grapes, tomatoes, apples, candy, etc.
      • If working with utensils, select a spoon that is red, blue, green or can have a colored sticker attachment
    • Game settings and webcam settings can be graded based on the current physical and cognitive abilities of your player:
      • Backgrounds can be adjusted for greater contrast or to simplify visual display
      • Speeds and difficulty can be ranged from easiest to most difficult
      • Music and effects can be varied for appropriate encouragement and engagement
      • Range of motion capture can be reduced for players with limitations or expanded for those with full range capabilities
    • Almost every RESTORE game has upper extremity motor compatibility. A few to consider with default game duration:
      • Take Flight (plays based on lives, duration not limited). Players can control a plane in flight with up and down movement to avoid obstacles and obtain coins and gems.
      • Jackpot (default is 5 minutes). Players can have the slot machine handle alternating sides after each pull or remain on one a single side for more concentrated motion
      • Bullseye (default 2 minutes). Players can control a bow and arrow to hit various targets and bonus items, while avoiding penalty items such as dynamite
      • Ladybugs or Car Cross (rounds of play). Players practice up/down movements to assist ladybugs or cars to cross a bridge, while avoiding allowing pests or undesirables to cross

    When players (patients) are having fun and engaged they focus less on targeted skills and more on the game. They have less anxiety or frustration in trying to bring food to mouth, if only working on this during self-feeding. When a player demonstrates appropriate control, sustained action, adequate activity tolerance, and desired cognitive function that is when it is most beneficial to follow up a RESTORE session with an actual self-feeding session.  

    Practice Self Feeding with RESTORE
    WBOC Good Day Delmarva

    RESTORE featured on WBOC’s Good Day Delmarva

    Below is an excerpt from the story from Good Day Delmarva

    For today's Wellness Wednesday, Sydney speaks with Joe Asseline with the Westgate Hills Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center to learn about the steps they're taking to provide contact-less care during the ongoing pandemic. 

    Today with the help of Westgate Hills Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Baltimore, Maryland we discover ways in which they're reaching goals with a contactless approach.

    Joe: I've been working at Westgate Hills Rehab for the past year and a half. My goal is to help patient's restore their function & independence through actiticties of daily living and self-care tasks. 

    Sydney: How are have you noticing that certain facilities or even yours are turning to technology to help folks get the therapy and attention that they need? 

    Joe: In my sesssion, I find it's very important to use video chat...we've also been able to use this really cool RESTORE virtual reality game system. RESTORE is a syetm that we are able to bring therapeutic activties and excercises into the rooms of patients. Not only that, there's a new feature that they've just rolled out that we're able to video chat in with the families so they can add words of encouragement. It's really cool! I find that they're always asking to use it because they think the games are really fun, 

    Check it out the full interview with Joe Asselin, OTR/L HERE!

    gamification

    Take your therapy to the next level with gamification

    What is gamification and how does it work?

    If you measure your daily step count or try to improve your LinkedIn profile strength to get a star, your behavior is already influenced by gamification. 

    Gamification is why Peloton has been able to build a community of loyal cyclists around its product, while every other kind of exercise bike has been gathering dust in people’s basements since the 80s.

    Gamification simply means adding game mechanics into nongame environments, like during fitness or in the workplace. The goal of gamification is to engage with consumers, employees, and partners to inspire, collaborate, share and interact. (BIworldwide) It can be digital but is not necessarily limited to digital technology.

    Outside of the digital space, gamification is the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation. (Merriam-Webster)

    Digitally, the rules and rewards will appear as points, levels, missions, leaderboards, badges, and progress. Users progress by getting immediate feedback on accomplishments.

     

    Examples of gamification may include:

    • Competition through leaderboards
    • Collaboration by completing team missions
    • A sense of community by seeing other participants on a news feed
    • Collecting badges and unlocking new missions. 

    Gamification works to motivate and engage us because it makes activities more entertaining so that we reach our goals. It leverages some of the following natural traits

    • Curiosity
    • Desire for status or accomplishment
    • Competitiveness and achievement
    • Need for community and belonging

     

    Together, these game dynamics combined with game mechanics foster engagement and motivate participants.

    gamification

    How is gamification used in therapy?

    We know how hard it can be to motivate people to work out, and with therapy, we’re asking patients to do this with a whole range of other complications. This is why gamification in therapy can be so powerful. 

     

    Here’s what gamification does for therapy

    Therapists can design therapy sessions to trigger physical and cognitive-behavioral patterns required for treatment and neurological recovery. Improving game knowledge among therapists and improving communication between therapists and game designers may lead to a novel avenue in designing applied games with specific therapeutic input, thereby making gamification in therapy a realistic and promising future that may optimize clinical practice. (Pediatric PT journal in 2017)

    No doubt gamified apps, devices and therapies will gradually appear in every field of healthcare making behavior change easier and more fun. 

     

    Examples of using digital gamification in healthcare

    Digital gamification in the healthcare space is still new, although it’s been widely adopted across healthy lifestyle brands. About one-in-five Americans use a smartwatch or fitness tracker, according to Pew Research

     

    In healthcare facilities and therapies, digital gamification is catching on. 

    • Wii Fit: In recent years, skilled nursing facilities have brought gaming technology like the Wii Fit into activity rooms to keep patients active and engaged. This has no doubt entertained residents, but the Wii Fit is nonetheless limited to a specific level of balance and fitness, and it doesn’t concentrate on specific therapy goals that help a skilled nursing patient return home. 
    • FDA approved video game for ADHD: Just this year and for the first time ever, the FDA approved a video game as part of a treatment for children diagnosed with ADHD.
    • The game, called EndeavorRx, is for kids aged eight through 12 to improve attention function.
    • Distraction therapy for pain management: Researchers report virtual reality is proving to be effective in reducing anxiety and acute pain caused by painful medical procedures and could be useful for treating chronic pain.
    • Johns Hopkins: Physical medicine and rehabilitation therapists have incorporated neurogaming technology into rehabilitation at The Johns Hopkins Hospital to engage patients in the typically mundane exercises that build strength after an illness or injury. The first group of patients to try it out were recovering from COVID-19.
    • Researchers at the University of East Anglia in England pioneered a virtual reality (VR) gaming rehabilitation solution for stroke survivors suffering from complex neurological syndromes.

    Sea Hero Quest (made by Telekom) is "the first mobile game where anyone can help scientists fight dementia"

    Clinical benefits of gamification in therapy

    A study in Psychology Today from Peter Gray, PhD lineates the benefits of gaming on cognitive abilities. “Overall, strong positive relationships between amount of time gaming and high scores on tests of perception, top-down attention, spatial cognition, multitasking, and cognitive flexibility. Their analysis of the intervention data indicated that even just 10 to 30 hours of video play, over the duration of an experiment, significantly improved performance on tests of perception, attention, spatial cognition, and cognitive flexibility.” This study shows that gaming had emotional, social and motivational benefits as well.

     

    Less refusals and more compliance:
    One of the challenges physical therapists encounter are patients who refuse to comply with therapy. This can be for valid reasons, but by making therapy more engaging and interesting, patients are more willing to move beyond excuses. Gamification increases compliance and reduces refusals by empowering patients

    Easy to customize:
    Digital games for therapy can be customized to each user, based on their interests and abilities. With a variety of game options, therapists can easily apply a person-centered approach to each therapy session. Players can choose a game based on their interests, preferences, habits, tendencies, work history, family history and more. Plus, as users progress in the skill area they are working on, the therapy can easily be adjusted to accommodate them. Digital gamification provides more sophisticated capabilities to measure patients’ range of motion and helps therapists offer better assessments of patients.

    Promotes daily practice of therapy exercises:
    Gamification motivates patients to complete exercises even when they are not supervised by their physical therapists. This is because patients’ exercise routines can be set with a cloud-based dashboard. Games can be both fun and personalized and include 3D sensors to monitor performance.

    Provides feedback and is data driven:
    Patients who see progress in therapy are more willing to work hard. Gamification includes tracking so that patients can visually determine how far along they’ve come and what they still want to achieve. Any potential problems can be quickly detected by the physical therapist. The results have shown a significant increase in patient compliance with home-based exercise routines.

    Continuity of care:
    Digital gamification is consistent each time and easy to monitor. This makes it easier to support therapy sessions from multiple therapists on staff. 

     

    Business benefits of gamification

    Following are three business benefits of gamification for those early adopters of this digital technology. 

     

    Increase employee engagement and retention

    Employees who are helping patients stay more engaged and interested in therapy will end up being more engaged as well. This changes the way therapists deliver services to patients. Therapists will work together in collaboration more when their patients are competing against one another, and therapy results are driven by data. And when therapists achieve more success with their patients, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and stay in their jobs. This supports employee engagement and reduces employee turnover.

    Improve reputation

    Companies that are more successfully engaging both therapist and patients in their care will have more positive outcomes, happier employees and patients and a stronger reputation. Overall satisfaction and referrals will increase, along with better clinical outcomes.

    Reducing readmissions

    Patients who are more engaged with therapy are more likely to continue with therapy exercises at home. Additionally, digital gamification technology can often be used at home upon discharge as well. Family members can join the sessions, either as participants as well or remotely as cheerleaders. This means faster recovery, continued improvement and reduced readmission rates from injury or falls. 

    gamification in therapy

    Why it’s been slow to be adopted

    Before having to accept sheltering in place, RESTORE’s Ian Oppel, chief clinical officer and an occupational therapist traveled around to hundreds of care locations in all settings. He says, “What I learned is that patients love their therapists and that the therapy profession is as valued today as it was when I started practicing 25 years ago. I also discovered that therapy services are being provided today in essentially the same way they were 25 years ago, albeit with fewer smiles and laughter. Treatment sessions predominantly took place in the therapy gym, treatment approaches are largely contrived (versus functional and person-centered), and the requirements for documentation and time management make sustained patient engagement a real challenge.”

    COVID-19 is forcing therapists to adopt changes that were long overdue. The therapy gym should be a treatment environment exclusive to those patients needing to access equipment that can only be housed in the gym and scheduled accordingly. 

    Oppel says, “Therapists need portable, easily accessible, and versatile treatment approaches that can be delivered point of care and documented point of service. 

    Therapy sessions must be meaningful, engaging, and fun to accelerate outcomes and promote wellness as part of a healthy, active lifestyle change that continues after discharge from care.  Ideally, we want to find ways to teleconference family members and friends during treatment sessions so they can provide encouragement while receiving education and peace of mind.”

     

    Gamification key to a motivational therapy program in 2020 

    “Gamified services engage us, keep us motivated and help us down the bumpy road of change. It’s the combination of a great buddy and a considerate parent. That’s why I believe gamified solutions will spread like epidemics in healthcare as well.” (Medical Futurist in July 2017).

    Now in 2020 gamification must spread WITH the epidemic as an antidote to our present therapy challenges.

    Skilled nursing therapy today looks fundamentally different than it did one year ago. First came changes to the reimbursement system to PDPM, taking the focus away from therapy minutes to instead focus on achieving therapy outcomes. Facilities began running groups and concurrent therapy sessions, suggesting that the group setting would be like a workout group class, where everyone motivates one another. 

    Then, of course, with COVID-19, therapy changed in ways previously unimaginable, where patients were largely confined to their rooms and therapists were limited to their own imagination and the equipment they could easily transport and sanitize.

    RESTORE Skills therapy gaming platform supports both new models, offering therapists and their patients an engaging, effective and easy to use tool in any setting. 

    RESTORE Skills is positioned now to be even more effective. Patients who can no longer interact as easily with other residents can be instead motivated by points, badges and trophies. In an otherwise isolating environment, RESTORE’s game mechanics now support participants’ engagement by providing them with next steps and feedback on their accomplishments as they play.

    What was already an engaging therapy solution just reached a new powerful level as players become internally motivated to achieve a higher score or reach a new level.

     

    Turn every room into a therapy gym

    In this time when patients are confined to their rooms, RESTORE Skills supports fun, movement and activity even in a limited physical space. RESTORE is as portable as a laptop computer with a webcam. Therapists can easily transport laptops to each patient room to run a successful therapy session. And patients can continue to log in to their account and play therapy games once they return home. RESTORE Skills makes rehabilitation more fun, stretching patients’ abilities playfully and diverting their attention away from discomfort.

     

    Data-driven digital gamification promotes consistency in therapy

    Gamification promotes consistency in therapy, which is crucial during any time, but even more so during COVID-19 when facilities struggle with understaffing. Residents can now easily see where they left off the last time they were in therapy and then jump right back into it to continue aiming for the next level or badge. Therapists on different shifts can pick up with every patient right where their colleagues left off.

     

    Gamification is affordable

    While gaming systems can be expensive, therapists with a smaller budget can still tap the trend of providing more engaging, personalized care with RESTORE. 

     

    Increase transparency with digital gamification 

    At a time when guests are unable to visit skilled nursing centers, the onus is on every facility to set up care video calls and keep families connected. Instead of scheduling a typical video chat, it’s just as easy, and more meaningful to connect family members to a therapy session that is happening on a digital gamification platform. Family members can cheer along their loved one, witness the value of the care the patient is receiving and be able to support continuity of care once the patient returns home.

    While digital gamification may now still be only in its infancy of adaptation in the healthcare field, there is no doubt that it is here to stay. The move toward more transparency, personalization, engagement and motivation was necessary before the COVID-19. The epidemic has exasperated the urgent need for better therapy. Those therapists who adapt to the digital gamification trend earliest will be the most set to succeed in the future of skilled nursing therapy.

    senoirs in long term care connecting with families

    RESTORE CEO interviewed on ABC’s Local 24 News

    RESTORE-Skills CEO interviewed on Memphis' Local 24 News (ABC)

    Below is an excerpt from the story on tech in skilled nursing

    There is a new way some Tennesseans are connecting to loved ones in facilities. Virtually.  It's called Restore-Skills.com. It's a computer-based occupational and physical therapy gaming program. All someone in a long term care facility needs is a laptop to use it. Restore has been on the market since 2019, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, its creators expanded its capabilities to allow family members to virtually join in.   

    "We wanted to create fun and meaningful activities, so we added the ability to connect the family member to the game while doing the activity," said Eran Arden, Restore-Skills CEO.

    Arden says there is a list of games a therapist can pick from, depending on what skills the patients needs to work on. During the sessions, family members can get looped in.

    "Once they join they would see the patient live and the game running," said Arden. "They can see the loved ones moving their shifting balance left and right while skiing the slopes."

    Arden says family members can cheer the person in the nursing home, and there are even games that can be played together.

    Check it out in full HERE!

    nursing home visitation

    RESTORE featured in WTBU Radio story

    RESTORE-Skills featured in a WTBU Radio (Boston) story titled, “Mass. Longterm Care Facilities Welcome Socially Distant Visitors"

    Below is an excerpt from the story on visitation

    Amanda Telesca is the Director of Rehab at the North End Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, which has 100 beds and about 150 staff members.  Telesca estimated that the average age of the residents is between 75 and 85 years old.

    In April, her facility started receiving new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about limiting gatherings and visits. With the new changes, though, came tradeoffs for seniors.

    The North End facility started using the RESTORE Skills therapy program, an online, web-cam based program that has a teleconferencing feature so family members can join the virtual therapy sessions.  Physical therapy exercises are incorporated into games, which RESTORE skills developers say keep residents engaged in the session.

    The facility’s goal is to prepare residents to return home and Telesca said that using a technological therapy tool has benefits beyond the physical therapy aspect.

    “It is a lot of fun and it’s a good tool to use, as far as coordination goes and technology-wise, training people to use their laptops and preparing for home that way,” Telesca said.

     

    Check it out in full HERE!

    snf-therapy-during-covid

    Let’s use the state of SNF therapy today as a springboard for more positive outcomes

    There’s no question that therapy today in skilled nursing facilities looks vastly different than it did several months ago (and for many years before that). What is yet to be determined is whether or not these changes can result in positive outcomes for all parties involved--patients, of course, therapists and skilled nursing facilities.

    Just recently, the federal government released a much-needed $5 billion aid package to SNFs--one that came on the heels of the industry's first-ever decline in margins reported since 1999. That funding, combined with the collective will to improve therapy challenges that existed in the industry even prior to COVID-19, is a rare opportunity. Of course, COVID-19 exacerbated challenges SNFs were already facing, it is also an opportunity for a total redesign of how SNFs provide therapy. I would like to propose that the vastly different climate in SNFs this summer 2020 should be a springboard for a more positive future for therapy in skilled nursing facilities. 

    Moving from RUG-IV reimbursement to PDPM for therapy

    Last October 2019 when the federal government entered a new fiscal year, the new Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) replaced the long-held Prospective Payment System, RUG-IV approach to billing for therapy based on time spent per patient. The immediate effect of that change was that 43 percent of operators reported laying off therapists to a Skilled Nursing News SNF poll, as well as a reduction in hours. Facilities started providing more group therapy and concurrent therapy sessions, offering patients a chance to be motivated by one another as they each worked toward personal goals.

    That was until COVID-19 hit in March 2020.  

    We in the industry would still be sorting out the ripple effect of the move to PDPM this year, except that a bigger tsunami hit the skilled nursing facility industry in the form of a global pandemic. 

    COVID-19 results in bigger changes for therapy

    Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and most long term care patients are still spending the majority of time in their rooms, with little to no outside visitors. Therapy gyms are closed or only available to a limited number of patients at a time--at a social distance. And skilled nursing facilities are no longer getting reimbursed by therapy minute thresholds.

    Therapists are now providing therapy within patient rooms, but this can be limited to the creativity, experience level and motivation of each individual therapist.

    You could look at this as a disaster for the state of therapy in skilled nursing facilities, but I see it as an opportunity. As an experienced occupational therapist, I long ago recognized the need for a new approach to SNF therapy. The tired therapy exercises of batting at balloons and using cones or a pegboard are not enough to motivate patients to reach new goals. I despised going through the motions of cookie-cutter therapy. I knew I wasn’t providing the best opportunity for healing to my patients.

    The SNF therapy industry needed a shakeup, and now we have it. 

    The change to PDPM means the number one focus is on patient outcomes. This should always be our goal as therapists and SNFs, and COVID-19 doesn’t change this goal either.

    COVID-19

    Here are 4 ways we can take 2020’s changes to SNF therapy and use it as a springboard for better therapy and more positive outcomes in the future

    Focus on our ability to accelerate outcomes

    Patients, therapists and SNFs are all now aligned around one goal every time: achieving the best outcome in the shortest, most responsible period of time. This has always been what the patient wants and what is best for the facility, but now the PDPM reimbursement aligns with that goal. 

    How do we achieve this? By focusing on the patient experience. We make therapy fun, engaging and rewarding. Patients who are motivated in therapy will achieve a more positive outcome in a shorter span of time. Of course, every therapist appreciates the rare patient who is motivated and agreeable, but this isn’t always the case when patients can have a whole host of complicated reasons that leave them less motivated in therapy. Therapists need tools they can use that make therapy effective and engaging. The technology exists to do this. I work for a cutting edge company that is leading the way in this area with therapy gaming technology, and the early adopters of this kind of therapy will be among those who are best poised to achieve accelerated outcomes for their patients. 

    Focus on connectivity and transparency

    Prior to COVID-19, SNF facilities could rely on family visits to keep families connected to their loved ones. Families could easily pop in and ask a question to a nurse or social worker during these visits and, of course, schedule a care consultation.

    Now with limited visitation for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, facilities must proactively keep families in touch with their loved ones and informed about their care. Connectivity and transparency needed to always be a priority, but now all SNFs are forced to make this happen.

    Most facilities have succeeded in scheduling Zoom and Facetime calls with families. Some facilities are mandated to do so by their state. But imagine if instead of talking from a chair or bed, families joined parts of a therapy session? Technology offers an incredible level of transparency, as families can motivate patients and celebrate their achievements as they watch. Families will recognize the value of long term care rehab and rest assured their loved one is getting excellent treatment. Gone are the concerns about what is happening behind the walls of a SNF when the relatives aren’t there. 

    We at RESTORE have incorporated video conferencing into our platform, and no doubt, this will be an initiative with staying power.

    Improve continuity of care

    SNFs have always had high turnover and a constant need to aggressively hire new staff. And in therapy, the use of PRNs can mean that new therapists frequently join the care team. COVID-19 escalated this issue as SNF employees were suddenly called upon to soldier through a battle they hadn’t realized they signed up for, and facilities faced more shortages than ever.

    The need to standardize care for every person providing treatment has always been a priority, but now it’s an absolute necessity. This is where technology comes in. With therapy technology, every therapist on the team can facilitate a similar session experience, regardless of how well they know the patient. Obviously, rapport in therapy is key to overall success, but when that’s not a possibility, it’s still essential that the patient continues to reach individual goals. Technology that tracks this progress and helps therapists facilitate the actual exercises is key.

    Skilled nursing facilities that do this well will have an evidence-based practice to identify patients’ needs and show progress.

    This is what we developed with RESTORE Skills, and this is where the future of SNF therapy lies.

    Differentiate the care approach and share success stories

    Competition is fierce for the same type of patient now with PDPM. It’s not enough to just have an aesthetically beautiful facility. SNFs have to offer a higher quality of care than their competition and then share those stories through marketing. 

    Those skilled nursing facilities that differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering better therapy outcomes will be positioned to succeed in the future.

    Ultimately, to achieve all of these improvements, SNF employees need to work as a team. When it comes to creating positive outcomes for patients, none of the goals of SNF employees can be individual or exist in a silo. For example, I can’t manage to succeed with a patient in OT if he didn’t get the nutrition he needs or a good night sleep because his roommate kept him up. SNFs need more collective leadership to actually achieve the integrative care approach. This is more than just a morning meeting. It’s one where every team member realizes that they are one piece of a puzzle, working together for a greater goal that can only be achieved with all of them together. 

    I left my position after 25 years as a therapy provider, clinical specialist and multiple senior care operator because I saw in my position as CCO at RESTORE Skills an opportunity to impact the whole industry. I recognize how new ways of thinking about therapy in SNFs can have a greater impact on patients and on the facilities and their employees as well. As we continue to deal with the ripple effect of these past few months, I have no doubt that more innovation and new ways of thinking about SNF therapy will develop. Those skilled nursing facilities that embrace this technology and look for ways to achieve more accelerated positive outcomes will come out on top.

    Click here to learn more about how RESTORE Skills is helping skilled nursing facilities meet therapy needs, improve patient outcomes, and keep patients engaged and connected, especially during COVID-19. 

    About the author:

    Ian Oppel is a healthcare executive with over 25 years of post-acute healthcare leadership experience providing expertise in rehabilitation, fiscal and clinical operations, memory care, senior living, reimbursement, and regulatory compliance. Ian is currently the co-founder and chief clinical officer for RestoreSkills, a leading edge therapeutic gamification and telehealth company.

    technology in the pandemic

    In the News: CEO’s interview with CNN

    RESTORE-Skills featured in a CNN article titled, “These seniors are turning to cutting edge technology to stay connected during the pandemic”

    Below is an excerpt from the article

    A unique feature of the program is built-in video calling so families can see their loved ones playing games. Landsman [a resident of The Jewish Home, Freehold, NJ] said he recently played the slot machine game while using the video calling feature to connect with family.

    "I just saw my sister on there," Landsman said "She's home with the kids. She cheered me on."

    Landsman's sister, Linda Landsman, said that she enjoys watching him play and that it helps her stay connected with her brother, especially during the pandemic.

    "He was winning the slot machines, and I was cheering him on that he won," Landsman said. "I thought it was great exercise on top of everything."

    Eran Arden, CEO of Restore Skills, said that by the end of July, the company will be launching the ability for families to play along. He also said the video calling feature was new as of May in response to the pandemic.

    "When we realized that's a need that we have to answer, we switched our development plan ... and just focused on adding the video conference ability to the platform," Arden said. "We understand how important it is and how patients and their loved ones need to have the ability to see each other."

    The article looks at the emergence of technology in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities during the pandemic. Noting that the use of technology can help keep older Americans connected and thriving.

    Check out the full story HERE!