Archive for the ‘Our Epic News’ Category
Childhood cancer is no laughing matter. But that doesn’t mean that raising money to find a cure can’t be fun! Just ask Julie Boughter, LPN field nurse at Epic’s Downingtown branch.
“In April, I was one of over 200 people who had gathered for one reason: to raise money to find a cure for kids battling cancer,” said Julie.
And the way Julie and her fellow fundraisers decided to do this was by shaving their heads!
“People would often ask if I was scared to shave my head,” said Julie. “But it’s just hair. It will grow back.”
While Julie has not been personally affected by cancer, she has a close friend who has. In celebration of Julie’s friend’s five-year cancer-free anniversary, both women decided to shave their heads at one of St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events. So far, the event has raised over $85,000.
The event also raised another valuable resource: human hair. Julie was able to donate her 10-inch braid to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which helps women fighting cancer get real-hair wigs.
“I am lucky to be cancer-free, and if shaving my head helps raise money and bring awareness to this great cause, then that is the least I can do,” said Julie.
So far, Julie has raised over $1,500 for St. Baldrick’s, and her fundraising page will continue to accept donations throughout the year.
In celebration of May being Better Speech and Hearing Month, we want to help parents find fun, creative ways to strengthen their children’s speech and language development.
And one of the best ways to do this is to play!
Playtime is integral in a child’s development of language skills. As therapists, part of our job is to guide a child’s development through play activities and to teach parents to do the same.
As an ode to summer – and to Better Speech and Hearing Month – here is a list of five summer activities that will help parents focus on language development while playing with their little ones!
1. Plastic bugs: Found at your local big-box retailer for about $3, these little creatures are a great, inexpensive toy that can strengthen language development! Here’s how:
- Talk about each bug individually and its different body parts (legs, wing, body).
- Discuss how the bugs are similar and different. What colors are they? How many legs or spots do they each have?
- Hide the bugs in the yard or house, and work on following directions and using prepositions – “the bug is on the chair” or “under the table”
2. Nature walk: Whether at your local park or in your own backyard, now’s the perfect time to get outside. While you are there, take the time to talk about what you are seeing:
- The colors of the flowers, bugs and plants
- Relationships and actions (what grows, flies, makes sounds)
- The size of items (big flowers, little flowers, tall trees, short trees)
- Other kids on the playground (who is running, sliding, throwing, swinging). This is a great activity to practice verbs!
3. Water play: Enjoy a hot day with water play! Fill up a small pool or even a bucket with water. You can use cups, big spoons and strainers while discussing the different steps throughout the activity:
- Talk about actions (splash, pour, fill, dump, scoop)
- Label items (boats, spoons, cups)
- Talk about body parts (splash with your hands, splash with your feet, do little splashes with your fingers)
4. Follow the Leader/Simon Says: Both activities are great for toddlers and school-age children. Use Follow the Leader to work on identifying body parts and actions, as well as following directions. Younger children can participate by following visual instructions.
- Make sure you talk about what you’re doing and label, label, label! (“Shake your hands, shake, shake, shake” and “Stomp your feet, stomp, stomp, stomp”)
- Work on opposites (up/down, stop/go, loud/soft, high/low)
- Make instructions harder if the children are older (have them follow two or three directions at a time)
- Take turns being the leader and being “Simon.” But most of all, have fun!
5. Sidewalk chalk: This is a great activity for children of all ages. Older children can use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures and discuss what they are doing:
- Have them tell you about the picture they drew.
- Can they make up a story about their artwork or draw a picture to match a favorite story?
- Ask them to draw items in specific places (draw a butterfly above a tree, draw a blue fish under a bridge). They can use this activity to learn about following multi-step directions as well as prepositions.
- Ask your toddler to find items in an older sibling’s pictures.
- Use chalk to make a road for cars, and talk about driving the car on the road, parking the car, and going over a bridge.
The above list includes just a few of the speech development activities you and your child can do together while also having fun! Plus, helping your child learn language skills through play does not have to be expensive or time consuming.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to play!
~ Mollie Elliott, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech Therapy Supervisor – Addison, TX
Did you know – according to Autism Speaks – that the prevalence rates of Autism have increased 10 to 17 percent annually in the last few years?
Research has shown that the increase is not only due to improved diagnosis and awareness, but also genetic and environmental factors.
As occupational therapists, we often work with children with autism and help others see the unique ways that these special children see the world. We are also committed to helping children with autism adapt to their environments while helping to educate others on how to best interact with a child with autism.
While occupational therapists often focus on activities of daily living (dressing, grooming, toileting, and other self-care tasks), we also help children with autism overcome their sensory issues.
The ability to sensory regulate is one of the most common challenges facing children with autism. Sensory issues can include sensitivities to touch, sound and sight, as well as movement and balance issues that affect attention, language and posture, among other things.
During therapy, the occupational therapist works with the child to improve fine motor skills, bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body at the same time), grasp patterns (holding different objects), and other skills required for functional activities.
By using a variety of activities that involve the different senses and modifying the therapy techniques, occupational therapists can help improve a child’s attention and focus. And the real joy comes from helping children with autism come out of their shells and engage with others.
~ Anna Shveima, OTR
Occupational Therapy Supervisor – Dallas
There are many benefits to in-home private duty nursing: an enhanced level of comfort for the client, consistent one-on-one care and attention, and increased quality of life for clients and their families, just to name a few.
But it can take some time to get used to having a nurse in your home caring for your loved one.
How will this new person fit into your home life? Will you even like this person? But more importantly, how do you know if this person is really capable of caring for your loved one?
If you have never experienced this situation before, it can be a unique and rewarding aspect of your home life. But it can also be a bit unnerving if you don’t know everything the home care agency has gone through to select your caregiver.
At Epic, we take great pride in hiring the top nurses and matching them with our clients. But before our nurses enter a home, we first go through several steps to ensure they possess the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide the necessary care
So how do we do this?
- Licensure – We check the state’s board of nursing examiners to ensure each nurse is licensed and in good standing – no disciplinary action. Each Epic office also re-checks licensure twice a month for all nurses.
- Professional references – We obtain two professional references from previous employers.
- Background checks – We conduct criminal background checks to see if there are any offenses. We also check with the Office of the Inspector General for any issues with Medicaid/Medicare.
- Drug testing – Our nurses must pass a drug test before entering a client’s home.
- Skills testing – Nursing candidates must pass several in-office tests (medications, OSHA, general nursing, documentation, etc.) to ensure they can provide the necessary care. Also, all candidates must demonstrate to their local nursing supervisor that they are proficient with gastric and tracheostomy tubes, ventilators and PICC lines, when appropriate.
- In-home orientation – Prior to working in the home alone, our nurses will participate in an in-home orientation with a preceptor and demonstrate that they have the knowledge to care for the clients.
As you can see from the above requirements, ensuring the highest level of care is priority one at Epic Health Services. It’s why we hire the best and provide them with on-going opportunities for advanced training – and why our clients are confident in the level of care they receive.
Children love to express their independence, either by trying a new task on their own or simply stating “I can do it” when a parent tries to help.
But some children have difficulty developing the skills needed to become more independent.
That’s when an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant can help!
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help children achieve independence. The therapists work with children on self-care – dressing, grooming, toileting, bathing and self-feeding – as well as everyday tasks at home or school.
As a result of occupational therapy, children improve, develop and restore their fine motor functions.
So what can parents expect from occupational therapy?
First, an occupational therapist will provide an individualized evaluation and discuss goals with the parents. Second, the therapist will develop customized interventions to improve the child’s ability to perform daily activities and reach his/her goals. Third, an outcomes evaluation is conducted to ensure that the goals are being met or to make changes to the intervention plan.
Wondering if occupational therapy is right for your child? Children with the following diagnoses typically benefit from occupational therapy:
- Developmental delay
- Perceptual motor delay
- Visual perceptual delay
- Feeding difficulties/disorders
- Sensory integrative dysfunction
- Dysgraphia (moderate handwriting difficulty)
- Gross motor planning problems (uncoordinated)
- Fine motor planning problems
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Autism spectrum disorders (PDD, Asperger’s Syndrome, etc.)
- Neurological impairments resulting in delay of skill development
- Genetic disorders resulting in delay of skill development
Our therapists our committed to helping your child succeed. If you have questions or want more information about our occupational therapy services, contact the Epic branch nearest you.
With a name like Ducky Palooza, you know an event will be fun!
On March 2, Epic’s Addison office participated in Ducky Palooza, the ultimate rubber ducky race at the Frisco Aquatic Center in Frisco, TX. The event benefited Hope Park, a new 13,000 sq. ft. park designed for all children, regardless of ability and with a focused consideration for children with special needs.
Dana Buckner, client relations director, and Travis Nash, operations manager, not only represented the Addison office and provided information about Epic, but also cheered on the team’s sponsored duck – Ducktor Seuss – in the rubber ducky beauty pageant.
While Ducktor Seuss got a lot of votes, which meant more money raised for Hope Park, he sadly did not win the grand prize.
“Ducky Palooza was a fantastic success,” said Travis. “The event raised awareness and money for a great cause.”
The Addison team is now looking forward to helping build the park, which will take place April 5 – 14. Volunteers are still needed and encouraged to visit Hope Park’s website.
Be a part of the fun! Be a part of history! Be a part of building an amazing gift to families all over the North Texas area!
Spring is upon us, and it’s the perfect time to make sure your home’s smoke detectors are working properly.
Maintaining a safe home is easy if you follow these four tips from the Fort Worth, TX, fire department:
- Install – Install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. Be sure to install smoke detectors near bedrooms and any other areas used for sleeping.
- Test - Battery-operated detectors should be tested once a month to make certain they are working.
- Change Battery and Clean Unit - Change the battery in each smoke detector at least once a year. A good way to remember this is, “change your clocks – change your batteries.”
- Replace - Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years. If you don’t know the age of your smoke detectors, be on the safe side and replace them.
If you are concerned about the costs of replacing your smoke detectors, there are great local resources that will help you keep your family safe without breaking the bank. In fact, many local fire departments will provide and install a smoke detector in your home free of charge.
Your local fire department may also have flashing or vibrating smoke detectors available for loved ones who are deaf or hearing impaired.
In addition to having working smoke detectors in the home, all families should have an escape plan in place in case of a fire or other emergency. The smoke detectors and escape plan are by far the cheapest “insurance plan” you can have for your family and home.
So spring into spring with your family’s safety in mind! Check your smoke detectors today!
When it comes to fabulous and fearless 13-year-olds, Brianna Jones takes the crown – literally!
Last Saturday, Feb. 23, Brianna not only participated in the first “We Are Miracles” pageant – an event for children and young adults with special needs – but also won the title of Queen of the Miss Teen Division.
And cheering her on throughout the evening were her friends from Epic’s Beaumont office: Aaron Burris, executive director; Jeanna LaFlamme, lead client service coordinator; Joyce Bounds, nurse; and Carol Valma, nurse.
“Brianna was so excited when we arrived,” said Jeanna. “She posed for a picture in her beautiful dress and even prettier smile!”
Brianna has been an Epic client since 2009, but by her side for the past 13 years has been one of her primary nurses, Joyce.
“Brianna’s personality is so chipper and happy, and this was one of her dreams that came true,” said Joyce.
Congratulations, Brianna! Everyone at Epic is so proud of you!
Here at Epic, we’re not shy when it comes to bragging about our outstanding team of nurses and therapists. They not only provide outstanding care to our clients, but also are at the forefront of improving the home care industry.
One outstanding nurse is Dr. Jill Peacock, regional clinical director for our Northeast offices.
In January, Dr. Peacock’s research article – titled “Translating Best Care Practices to Improve Nursing Documentation” – was published in Home Healthcare Nurse. Dr. Peacock collected the data from a company not affiliated with Epic.
“I focused my research on nursing documentation because it is so important to what we do and the quality of care we provide our clients,” said Dr. Peacock. “What I discovered was that the documentation did not always capture the complexity of care needed by medically fragile children requiring tracheostomies or mechanical ventilation.”
The six-week implementation phase began with a thorough review of a preexisting flow sheet and guidelines. The audit revealed that the flow sheet was not capturing essential clinical data.
The nurses enrolled in the study were then instructed on how to use a new standardized flow sheet that provided cues on the type of clinical data that needed to be recorded.
“When you are delivering skilled nursing care for clients with complex medical conditions, the documentation must be standardized in order for the care to be adequately and accurately assessed,” said Dr. Peacock. “In many cases, the documentation is used to determine compliance with a physician’s orders.”
After the new flow sheet was fully implemented, Dr. Peacock found that the quality of documentation significantly improved. She also noticed a high percentage of compliance with the new tool and guidelines.
“While the research was never designed to measure quality of care, I have heard from nurses who have used the tool and applied it in a way that had a positive outcome in the care they provided,” noted Dr. Peacock.
Standardizing the documentation tool also accomplished the following:
1.) Ensured critical or essential clinical data would be captured and standardized so that all nurses in the home were assessing and recording the same data
2.) Ensured that those who were auditing the flow sheets were looking at and evaluating the same data elements
At Epic, we use standardized flow sheets to document care and capture critical elements. Our clinical supervisors educate nurses on use of the nursing care flow sheet and review the documentation to ensure compliance as well as quality of care.
Congrats, Dr. Peacock, on your recent publication. We look forward to hearing more about your future research!
Join us in celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month. And to help you make dental health a fun activity for your family, we would like to share a few tips from our friends at Ridgepointe Dental in The Colony, TX.
While developing good dental habits takes time, it’s important to start the process at an early age. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist by the time they are 12 months old and no later than six months after the eruption of their first tooth.
Once that first visit is complete, there are a few things you can do at home to help your child develop strong, healthy teeth:
- Limit sugar intake – Constant exposure to sugar is the primary reason children get cavities. Cavities form even if the sugar comes from a natural source like all-natural fruit juice.
- Brush your children’s teeth for them – Even as your children get a little older, they will still benefit from you brushing their teeth. We need to make it our responsibility to help them care for their teeth until our children can do a good job on their own.
- Don’t fret over toothpaste – There are some children who do not like the taste or texture of toothpaste. If that is a stumbling block for your child, simply allow him to brush without toothpaste. Other than the topical application of fluoride, it is just not that important. Although he may not have nice fresh breath, at least the plaque and bacteria will be greatly reduced.
- Invest in an electric toothbrush - Electric toothbrushes are worth their weight in gold! Young children don’t have the dexterity to brush their teeth thoroughly, and they don’t have the attention span to brush for the recommended two minutes. The electric brushes compensate for both of these issues. Plus, they are great for children with physical limitations.
- Don’t forget the dental rinse – After brushing, your child should use a dental rinse that contains fluoride. Read the label to ensure it contains fluoride.
- Make brushing fun - Let your child brush to a favorite song. You can also create a behavior chart where your child can place a sticker on it each morning and night to indicate he has brushed. Or you can provide a bit of encouragement by rewarding your child with a small prize if she completes a whole week of brushing
Having healthy teeth is an important part of your child’s overall health. With a little guidance and fun, your child will develop a lifetime of healthy dental habits.
~ Thanks to Rachel Dalton at Ridgepointe Dental for contributing to this post.