Jewish Senior Living magazine   2015/2016


“The focus of our treatment programs is well-being,” says Lisa O’Donnell. “I get to encourage people to function to their highest and best ability.”

Recreation therapist Lisa O’Donnell honors the acute geriatric psychiatry hospital’s holistic approach to wellness.

Recreation therapist for the Jewish Home’s acute geriatric psychiatry hospital, Lisa spends her days working with patients and coordinating the hospital’s schedule of therapeutic activities. These programs are designed to help heal their bodies and spirits, and stimulate their minds. “It’s a holistic approach to wellness,” she defines.

The therapeutic treatment program includes group and individual sessions with the psychiatrists and therapists. Patients are encouraged to be active participants in their treatment plan and healing process. As Lisa notes, “It’s their time to be empowered.”

Group content is designed to meet patients’ varying needs and goals, with a field of professionals providing opportunities for treatment and growth. The prevailing, positive thrust is that recovery is possible and achievable for everyone. To that end, Lisa conducts programs such as leisure education, coping skills, movement, relaxation and cognitive games, as well as sessions that promote self-expression, creativity, and enjoyment. The Jewish Home’s rabbi facilitates a group entitled “Art for Therapy.” Physical therapy staff engages people one-to-one and in groups. The psych occupational therapist reinforces skills such as time management, healthy snack preparation, and hygiene/grooming. The social work team provides individual counseling, as well as psychotherapy and discharge planning groups, while the nursing staff concentrates on health/wellness education opportunities. Also promoted is the independent pursuit of leisure during non-structured time. “This is an important skill to maintain wellness upon discharge from the hospital,” explains Lisa.

During peoples’ stay in the hospital (for many, it is usually of two weeks’ duration), they connect with one another and the members of the interdisciplinary treatment team. According to Lisa, this sense of community in a hospital setting helps provide a model for making – or reforming – community connections.

“The people we serve all have unique life challenges and experiences,” Lisa says. “Each person is here for a different reason, each has a different level of functioning. Our programs are intended to meet their needs and tie into their strengths.”

Help available here

With thanks to increased outreach, more healthcare professionals know about the Jewish Home’s acute geriatric psychiatry hospital and more seniors are getting the help they need.

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Jewish Senior Living Magazine

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