A Life of Comfort

By Rev. Catherine Lawrence  •  August 23, 2018

Every morning, people wake up and welcome their new day with a uniquely individualized morning routine that provides a sense of well-being, predictability and comfort. How do you begin your day? Are you a person who immediately reaches for a fresh cup of coffee, offers a prayer, spends a few minutes in quiet meditation or do you run out the door for a morning run?

Habits: The Invisible Architecture of Daily Life

In her book “Better Than Before, Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives with A Note to the Reader,” Gretchen Rubin says: “Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence and our future.”

When one’s morning routine is disturbed, it can create a sense of imbalance. Some people can become irritable or even think this episode is a precursor for a challenging day. Our habits provide a sense of continuity, predictability and comfort as people face their daily activities.

This is especially true for people who struggle with various forms of memory loss or dementia. As a community that embraces wholeness and abundant life, creating safe spaces that promote our residents’ sense of comfort is essential.

Comfort Matters

The Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix spent years developing and refining an excellent program titled Comfort Matters, Living Better with Dementia. Their educational staff came to Parkvue in July 2017 to present a full day educational overview to our leadership team, memory neighborhood staff nurses, nursing assistants, dining services and housekeeping staff.

Our community has been implementing the Comfort Matters key concepts in dementia care education. The five major ideas that form a foundation for understanding and application of palliative care for persons with dementia are: comfort care, anticipation of needs, know the person, person-directed care and staff empowerment.

Weekly core and team meetings with bi-weekly coach calls have been an essential part of continued training and the ongoing implementation of the key concepts. Watching the residents, families and staff respond to the core care concepts that have been integrated through the Comfort Matters protocols has been an amazing journey. At a neighborhood weekly meeting, staff discuss individual resident’s histories that have been completed by family members. This information offers insights into our resident’s daily routines, family history, favorite memories, occupations, leisure activities, pets, waking and sleeping patterns, favorite foods, drinks and even snacks.

Creating Comfort

Staff identify care strategies for each resident by creating a “road map." This document identifies specific individualized approaches to care that create a sense of comfort. It is a flexible, ongoing document that tracks effective and challenging behavior patterns. Identifying triggers that increase a resident’s irritability or cause distress and the specific times of day they may occur allows staff to anticipate opportunities to provide comfort. Empowered, our nursing staff continues to apply different techniques with residents and track their effectiveness.

Positive outcomes have occurred as staff have been implementing Comfort Matters core concepts. Recently, they noticed increased fellowship opportunities when our ladies sat together at a large table for meals. Asking Amazon’s Alexa to play their favorite music, currently Elvis Presley songs, has enhanced the meal time experience.

Our leadership team and staff continue to collaborate and identify individualized care techniques that create safe spaces of comfort and peace that nourish our residents, support their families and promote abundant life within our community.

About the Author

Rev. Catherine Lawrence

Rev. Cathy served as pastor and teacher at Zion UCC Fireside in Bellevue, Ohio for eight years. A registered nurse, she combines her passion for the care and nurture of the whole person, mind, body and spirit in her role as chaplain at Parkvue Community in Sandusky. She is a lifelong learner, the mother of two adult children and one beloved grandchild.

View all articles by Rev. Catherine Lawrence