Like skilled nursing facilities around the country, MaineGeneral Rehabilitation and Long-term Care experienced record high staff turnover during the pandemic. By 2022, the nursing team was composed completely of traveling nurses.
“Post-pandemic, we were facing a challenge: people being cared for by people who knew a lot less about them,” said Deirdre Heersink, Medical Director at MaineGeneral.
Heersink contacted MemoryWell to see if sharing patient life stories with the staff could help introduce the patients to their often-changing care workers. MemoryWell trained hospital volunteers to interview patients about their personal histories and then produced the stories.
Heersink hoped the stories would help her staff in another way too. “The work is hard. The reimbursement is not enough. When you listen to direct care workers, the ‘why’ they do this work is the people. I want to invest in that. That kernel of love is a very important little fire for us to tend.”
MemoryWell’s own survey results also show how relationships have been fostered through stories: 100 percent of staff agreed that they enjoy their work more when they know their patients’ life stories. And 100 percent agreed that the life stories help care staff better understand their needs and wishes.
Of patients, 100 percent said they were very or extremely satisfied with their stories.
“It is easy to forget who you are when you come into a place like this; seeing the story reminds me of who I am,” one resident told MemoryWell.
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