Picture It. Boonsboro 2021. You go with your family to visit Grandma for the normal, once a week family dinner. Everyone is sitting around the table, laughing and sharing stories. However, you notice that something seems a little off with Grandma. She doesn’t seem to be speaking in a language you recognize and occasionally, it comes out a little jumbled. She seems a little irritable and mentions to you that she hasn’t been sleeping well. As the night goes on, she seems to be getting more and more agitated. She also doesn’t remember important dates, and the dates that she does remember, are all mixed up. She fell once on her way to the bathroom and was lucky you were there to catch her. That’s when warning bells start going off in your head.
You mention something to your mom once your in the car on the way home and your mom agrees to consult a doctor. A few weeks later, your instincts are proven correct when Grandma is diagnosed with dementia. Once Grandma wanders off for an hour and a half and no one is able to find her, the family realizes that it’s in her best interest to admit her to a skilled nursing facility that specializes in Memory Care. While you know it’s the best thing for her, there’s still plenty of reasons to be afraid. And you can’t shake the biggest fear that’s plaguing your mind: That the nurses treat Grandma as kindly as you would.
Lucky for Grandma, the Delegating Nurse has it all under control.
Memory. While yes, it is an iconic song from a musical about a bunch of cats, it can also be a tricky thing. Think of all the things that are stored in your memory bank at any given time. Doctor’s appointments, birthdays, anniversaries. Favorite recipes, song lyrics, book titles. Important information like your Social Security number. Useless information like a random sports fact. Basic information like your address. Simple information like how to drive a car. Time really is the ultimate thief and sometimes it gets away with the goods. Over time, those memories can fade away and when they do, you will need all the help you can get. This is where Memory Care nurses step in.
We’ve talked before about how nurses are akin to characters in a Harry Potter novel, the Defense Against the Dark Arts for the infection in your body. Well, nothing against Harry & Co. but a fancy wand has nothing on a shiny sword and the siblings who wield them. Think of Memory Care nurses as your everyday, run of the mill Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s Raphael: the protector. A nurse caring for dementia residents has to be on the top of their game at all times. They have to make sure that sharp objects are put away, that doors lock from the inside, that anything spilt on the floor is cleaned up swiftly, and that nothing is around that will affect their residents mood. They have to keep a close eye on the residents to anticipate their every move. They have to proceed with an overabundance of caution to keep their most precious commodity safe. There’s Donatello: the calming voice. It can be frustrating when you don’t know where you are or what your name is. Trying to explain when no one seems to understand can make it worse. It can cause anxiety or panic. A Memory Care nurse needs to have a calming demeanor and presence. They need to be able to talk the resident through whatever the problem is in order to find a solution. There’s Michelangelo: the fun-loving one. While hard work, Memory Care can also be fun! Residents can regale you with incredible tales and there’s always a game to play or a craft to do. If a nurse likes to have fun, they’ll fit right in. Michelangelo is also a fighter so they must also be willing to fight for their patients!
And finally, there’s Leonardo: the leader. Think of the Delegating Nurse as your Leonardo. The Delegating Nurse runs the charts, patient assessments, infection control, day to day life in the Unit and everything in between. They have to have a clear understanding of all of their residents and know exactly how to make them feel special. They have to have strong communication skills in order to keep the nurses on the floor informed. They have to think fast on their feet and be ready for anything. Much like the other Leonardo, they have to have really good hair and the ability to play multiple roles. Unlike the other Leonardo, Delegating Nurses can make it off the Titanic without freezing to death. And while they don’t live in the sewers (although no one would judge!), they are fearless leaders who are ready to lead their family into battle to face whatever problem may come their residents’ way. Shredder never stood a chance.
Every week, we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a little bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.
This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Melanie Bishoff, Delegating Nurse.
Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I went to Hagerstown Community College and my initial major was psychology and I transitioned to nursing. 10/10 would recommend their nursing program! They were great.”
Do you have any other certifications? “I am a certified Case Manager/Delegating Nurse, first aid and CPR certified, and certified in Leadership through Leading Age Maryland.”
When did you know you wanted to be a nurse? What drew you to your current position? “My grandmother always told me that I would make a great nurse and she really had wished she would have completed her nursing courses. When she was on hospice, I promised her I would obtain my nursing license. And I am so glad that I did because it comes naturally for me. I was drawn to the position because it gave me the opportunity to grow professionally as a leader but also continue to be able to use my nursing skills and interact with the residents daily. I get the best of both worlds as the Delegating Nurse!”
What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “My friend’s mom worked here as a shift supervisor and recommended I apply when I graduated RN school. It’s tough because you need a job to get experience but need experience to get a job most of the time. I wasn’t necessarily interested in geriatrics but, it was a job to get me started and I had previously done my clinical rotation for my CNA at Fahrney Keedy and knew the high standard of care they provided. I ended up loving it and here I am!
In honor of #tbt, we want to throw it back to your first day at Fahrney Keedy. What do you remember? “To be honest, the first day was a WHIRLWIND. I was fresh out of nursing school, in my first healthcare job, and it was a world of difference from working in the restaurant industry. I do remember however that the staff were so helpful and patient with my 101 questions that I had.”
What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your duties and responsibilities? ” I am responsible for handling the day to day clinical supervision of the Assisted Living and Memory Care Unit. This includes running nursing notes and ADL charting reports, routine head to toe assessments of the residents and chart audits, quality assurance and infection control, wound assessments and everything in between. My end goal for all of my duties and responsibilities is to make sure that our residents are safe and pampered and asking ourselves “how can we do it better?” Every day is unique as the Delegating RN, and with my office being in the Memory Care Unit, there is never a dull moment, that’s for sure!”
Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? “I have so many great memories here at Fahrney Keedy that it’s hard to pinpoint one of them. I do cherish when I bring in Hans, my German Shepherd puppy, in to work and see the residents and staffs faces light up when we go around and visit with them. During the peak of the pandemic, when we were locked down for weeks at a time, I was so grateful I was able to bring Hans in to visit with our people. Animals are the best therapists.
This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially for those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “One name comes to mind: ALISON. She is the Director of Assisted Living and is my partner in crime. I’m so thankful for our partnership and couldn’t have gotten through it without her and the rest of our team here at Fahrney Keedy. Our nurses and care staff were absolute rock stars through the madness and made sure the residents continued to get the best care possible. I will forever be grateful to them.”
Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? “One thing our residents have taught me is to slow down and enjoy things while you still can. So, I think I would tell my younger self to pump the brakes and stop and smell the roses, explore, travel, try new things. This generation is always so full of wisdom and it’s a blessing to be able to spend my weekdays with them and learn from them. “
What advice would you give to someone interested in working with dementia patients? “I would advise them to be open minded and remember everyone has a different perspective, especially those with dementia. It’s important not to try and pull them into your perspective but to enter into their world and make them feel safe and happy there. That’s what we’re here for.”
And, last question, why should someone choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team? “Fahrney Keedy has a very high standard of care for our residents. From the top, we genuinely care for their well-being and it drives every decision we make!”
We asked Melanie 5 rapid fire questions to get to know her a little better:
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Movie (Melanie kept with the spirit of Halloween and offered two choices): Favorite Scary Movie: Scream, Favorite Halloween Movie: Hocus Pocus (of course!), Favorite Comedy: Billy Madison
Favorite Disney Character: The Mad Hatter
Favorite Superhero: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Who doesn’t love sewer dwelling mutant turtles who love pizza as much as I do! Cowabunga dude – Melanie)
Favorite Actor Age 65 and Over: Tie- Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges
1 Fun Fact: Melanie throws darts in a dart league with her family and boyfriend. She’s one of very few women and of course, she kicks the men’s butts!
We asked Hans if he had anything to add. This was his response:
Thank you so much to Melanie Bishoff for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!