If you find yourself on the second floor of Memphis Jewish Home & Rehab (MJHR), stop by the room just to your left as you exit the elevator. The Life Enrichment Center, open seven days a week, is home to the Restorative Nursing Program. It’s where you’ll find residents – such as 92-year-old Beverly – who are working hard to maintain as much of their independence as possible with the help of a restorative aide who coaches the residents through individualized exercise programs.
In fact if you arrive early enough, you’ll find Beverly and several others waiting patiently for the doors to open to the Center so they can begin their workout bright and early. Beverly works out for a half hour, five days a week, and loves every minute. The Omnicycle is her favorite piece of equipment. She says, “It keeps me active and helps my legs work better. It improves the strength in my legs.”
There’s no government reimbursement for this program or the equipment, which is why you won’t find it in other nursing homes. With the help of donations, MJHR provides this service, because it’s important to the mission of providing high-quality care to seniors. It’s a priority for MJHR, but donors make it a reality. Just recently, a generous couple donated funding to purchase multiple pieces of new equipment for the program.
At any one time, 80+ residents are taking advantage of this program. They’ll work out five to six days each week, just like Beverly. Sometimes they exercise from their wheelchairs using the Omnicycle, hand bikes, exercise balls, weights or other equipment. Others will work out on a piece of equipment like a NuStep or practice walking with a walker, even if they can only take a few steps. For some, it may be the only time of the day that they’re able to be out of their wheelchairs and standing upright. For those who are bed bound, there’s a program for them as well.
The program begins when a resident is admitted to MJHR and is evaluated by physical, occupational and speech therapy. Therapists work with the residents until they achieve a plateau of physical function when Medicare will no longer cover the cost of their therapy. Therapy can last from a few weeks to several months.
Restorative Exercise begins when a resident reaches that plateau. Then an individualized restorative exercise program is created, lasting for about six weeks. In this phase, the restorative aide engages the resident in a specific routine and exercise program designed to continue improvement in their level of functioning.
Functional Maintenance begins at the end of the Restorative Exercise six-week period. A specific program of exercises is designated to maintain the resident’s best level of function. This phase continues indefinitely. At any point, a resident can be referred back to therapy for evaluation if the need arises.
The program provides long-term care residents like Beverly with appropriate exercise as well as monitoring of their abilities so that any decline in function can be addressed. Being proactive can sometimes prevent a significant decline and can even increase level of functioning.
MJHR has had a Restorative Nursing Program in place for more than 10 years. Ben Morgan, who oversees the program, is an LPN with more than 20 years of service to the residents of MJHR. There are four full-time restorative nursing aides and one who works on weekends. It’s their dedication to our residents that makes this program such a success, and their smiles, encouragement and upbeat attitudes that make it fun.