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Oelfke receives leadership award from Health-Housing Alliance

From Mn Health, Housing Alliance Marilyn Oelfke was presented Minnesota Health and Housing Alliances Leadership Award Feb. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis. The statewide association of nursing home and senior housing professionals dre...

From Mn Health, Housing Alliance

Marilyn Oelfke was presented Minnesota Health and Housing Alliances Leadership Award Feb. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.

The statewide association of nursing home and senior housing professionals drew more than 4,000 people to its Institute for Older Adult Services during which the award was presented.

Oelfke is senior director of long term care services at Perham Memorial Hospital and Home. She was lauded for embracing and leading changes at her facility and as someone who is now called on to help others who are developing new and innovative models of care and building designs.

Perham Memorial Home began its journey in this a new model in older adult services known nationally as culture change about five years ago. Staff and administrators there recognized that their building was outdated and needed significant remodeling. But according to Perham Administrator Chuck Hofius, he and Oelfke agreed that focusing on fixing the building would be the wrong place to start. What they wanted to do was focus change on the care of residents in a way that would give them back their own routines and choices. Hofius knew Oelfkes deep commitment to the residents and asked her to lead the change process.

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Person First approach to care

Oelfke involved staff in finding ways to develop a household care model with universal workers. One hundred percent of the staff attended training called Person First that helped them gain the perspective of residents. If the staff were to be universal workers, each had to be trained in housekeeping, dietary, activities, social services, laundry and nursing.

Oelfke also became team leader for the building project. She toured other facilities, met with families and residents to gain their insights into design concepts and fought valiantly for more than 20 waivers that allow the Perham Memorial Home to care for residents in a less institutional manner than is the norm.

Less scheduled dining produced

healthier, happier residents

Well before the new building was complete, a six month trial was accomplished with two groups of 16 residents. In most nursing homes, a schedule determines when residents eat, bathe and do activities. Having a more resident-directed schedule had great results at Perham, where three fourths of residents who had needed assistance feeding no longer needed assistance after one month. Sixty six percent of the residents gained weight. Residents were sleeping better at night. Families were more involved in activities.

With that kind of success, the new model of care was rolled out to the entire organization, a full eight months before the new building was open. The new building was completed last May.

Adjustments for both staff,

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residents needed during transition

Even with the significant planning that went into the move, there were adjustments for staff and residents alike. Oelfke spent long days and some nights during the adjustment period. She consistently reminded her staff that the changes benefit residents. During Perham Memorial Homes journey to culture change, Oelfke often asked regarding the residents: Why should they adapt? Shouldnt we be adapting to them?

Oelfkes caring spirit and leadership combined to earn her the Leadership Award from MHHA. In accepting, Oelfke said Perham Memorial Homes staff takes great pride in the work they do.

To make our organization into home is the most important thing we can do for the residents, she added.

Minnesota Health & Housing Alliance (MHHA) is a non-profit, statewide trade association representing faith- and community-based providers of aging services. MHHA represents the complete continuum of services for older adults.

MHHA membership includes free-standing nursing homes, hospital-attached nursing homes, senior housing providers and business partners who serve older adult services providers. The membership represents some 26,000 beds in nursing homes and more than 20,200 units in senior housing residences.

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