Podcast Episode 103: Best Practices & Guidance: Navigating Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities

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When to consider an assisted living facility or a skilled nursing facility for someone with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a monumental decision, raising a list of questions, including quality of the facility, location, physical layout, services, staff training and experience in caring for people with PD, financial aspects, and more. A care partner is integral in helping to research facilities and evaluate their appropriateness based on their partner’s needs and preferences. But the role of the care partner does not end there. Once a person is in such a facility, the partner can help implement best care practices, letting staff know about particular symptoms, needs, habits, and preferences of the resident, as well as advocate for them when necessary.

In this podcast episode, Joan Gardner, BSN, nurse clinician, and Rose Wichmann, PT, director of the Struthers Parkinson’s Center in the Minneapolis area, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, explore many of the issues that are central to choosing an assisted living or skilled nursing facility as well as ensuring the best experience once someone resides there.

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About This Episode

Released: May 4, 2021

JoanJoan Gardner, RN, BSN

Joan Gardner is a Nurse Clinician at the Struthers Parkinson’s Center in Golden Valley, MN. She is the co-coordinator for the Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence at that site, and co- developed the Struthers Parkinson’s Care Network, a multi-state program that partners with senior residential communities and home care agencies to provide Parkinson’s Disease (PD) education and outcomes to its members.

Joan has worked in the Parkinson’s community for over 25 years, including with families living with Parkinson’s as a nursing leader on the interdisciplinary team at Struthers, as co-author of numerous publications and resources for the Parkinson’s Foundation, and as nursing faculty for national PD educational programs for health professionals. Joan is a frequent speaker at patient educational events, and has been a part of projects to improve care for those living with PD, including a project to improve timely administration of levodopa within her local affiliated hospital. Joan currently participates on several national and international PD task forces.

Joan was the 2018 recipient of the Methodist Hospital Sarah Harrison Knight Award for excellence in nursing leadership and community outreach, a 2014 Health Partners Team Presidents award and a 2009 recipient of the Paul M. Silverstein community service award.

Prior to working with the Parkinson’s community, Joan was a home care nurse for 16 years for agencies in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Joan received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

RoseRose Wichmann, PT

Rose Wichmann is the director of the Struthers Parkinson's Center, part of Park Nicollet Health Services. Located in Golden Valley MN, Struthers Parkinson’s Center is designated a Center of Excellence of the Parkinson’s Foundation The center is nationally recognized for its comprehensive team approach to management of Parkinson’s and related movement disorders.

In addition to her 30+ years of experience as a physical therapist, Rose is involved in educational programs designed to improve Parkinson’s awareness for patients, family care partners, senior residential communities home care agencies, and rural outreach areas. She is a frequent speaker, co- developer of the Struthers Parkinson’s Care Network, past president of Parkinson Association of Minnesota, and a past recipient of the Silverstein Community Service Award for her work to improve programs and services for the Parkinson’s community in the Upper Midwest.

Rose is a graduate from the University Of Minnesota School Of Physical Therapy. She has been a contributing author to several textbooks on Parkinson’s disease, and is the co –author of a number of publications distributed by the Parkinson’s Foundation. In 2012, she co-authored a book titled “Navigating Life with Parkinson’s Disease” for the American Academy of Neurology. A second edition of this book was recently released in 2020.

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