There are times when family members, who have a loved one in a nursing facility or an assisted living center, are uncertain about how to advocate on behalf of the resident. Advocacy is basically problem-solving. Learning the basics of the problem-solving process and steps to take along the way will benefit both the resident and family member.
Stage 1 is defining the problem. What exactly is the issue, be able to describe the problem with as much detail as possible. Include the five “W’s” – who, what, where, when, why in your description.  What information do you have from direct observation, discussion with a loved one or a staff member? Keep written notes which are dated to document your personal observations and discussions so you can refer to them as needed. Use objective, factual language to address the concern.
In Stage 2 determine what your goal is. What does the resident want to happen? What is an acceptable resolution? What outcome will benefit the resident? Make sure the goal is realistic and benefits the resident. Identify what action steps you could take to try to solve the problem at this point. Determine if there is a designated person on staff to handle concerns such as the administrator, the director of nurses or the social services director. Think through the “pros” and cons” in analyzing your approach to address a concern. Once you have taken action and addressed the issue, follow-up with the staff person you spoke to by sending a note summarizing the discussion and include any specific steps the facility said it would take to resolve the issue. Lastly, evaluate the outcome of your efforts. What was the result of your action? Is the problem resolved, partially resolved or not yet resolved? If the problem is only partially resolved or not resolved at all, repeat the above steps to re-address a second time.
If you are still not successful, identify where you could turn for assistance by contacting the local ombudsman or the state survey agency.
If your own attempts are not successful and you would like assistance with advocacy you may contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at Areawide Aging Agency (405)942-8500; search our website at or visit us on Facebook.

The Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (OKALA) joined 35 of its state peers this week in Washington, DC in a meeting hosted by the Assisted Living Federation of America to discuss strategic relationships that promote excellence in senior living throughout Oklahoma and the nation.
The group engaged in fruitful dialogue focused on credentialing, standards, and public policy in the senior living industry that enhance levels of care while creating consistent, meaningful regulatory and legislative reform. Oklahoma and its state partners agreed that some of their most pressing issues include addressing the increasing acuity of residents in senior living communities and current life safety codes. OKALA also looks forward to serving in a leadership role within the state to help unite senior advocacy groups on the state level.
“This meeting between ALFA and its state partners really shows the spirit of partnership and collaboration that will lead us all too even greater success,” said Oklahoma Assisted Living Association Executive Director, Melissa Holland.
Many seniors and their families turn to assisted living to have the necessary supports they need to continue caring for their loved ones. While providing excellent quality of care, it is quality of life that has made assisted living such a popular option. Seniors who were isolated in their own homes, without friends or purpose of life, thrive after moving into an assisted living community.
A 2013 poll shows that 94% of assisted living residents say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of life in their community. Today, 99% of senior living residents say they feel safe or very safe in their community.
“There was strong recognition among the group that the senior living industry has changed since ALFA was founded 25 years ago,” ALFA President and CEO James Balda said. “The senior living industry is successful when we’re successful together. This meeting helped us all move the discussion forward so that our new efforts in branding, credentialing and standards can be well integrated with the efforts we’ve seen by our state partners.”
Assisted living is home for our residents and typically 50% less expensive than a skilled nursing facility. Over 80% of senior living residents pay from their own private resources. There are many assisted living options available at various price points including large or small, urban or rural, high-rise or single level.

The Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (OKALA) is dedicated to the preservation of dignity and choice for older Oklahomans and to the quality of their care in the senior living setting. For over 18 years OKALA has been providing educational opportunities including an administrator certification course; representation with state department of health; and legislative advocacy for Assisted Living communities and those who provide services to them. For more information visit or on facebook.

In commemoration of the 800th anniversary of one of the most enduring symbols of liberty and the rule of law, the Oklahoma State Capitol will host the “Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015” exhibit from March 23 to April 5.
The event will be free and open to the public. The exhibit will be displayed in the Supreme Court Hallway on the second floor of the State Capitol.
The exhibit tells the story of the Magna Carta, which is widely regarded as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.
“Bringing the incredible story of the Magna Carta to the halls of the people of Oklahoma’s government presents a unique opportunity to celebrate the document that makes our form of government possible,” Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge said. “We are thrilled to host this exhibit so Oklahomans can learn about and appreciate the foundations of democracy as we know it today.”
The Magna Carta stands at the heart of English and American law and has influenced the legal systems of many other democratic nations.
King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The document greatly reduced the power wielded by the King of England and allowed for the creation of a powerful Parliament. It thus became the basis for English citizens’ rights.
The Magna Carta is therefore considered to be the founding document of English liberties and hence of American liberties. Because of the Magna Carta, the divine right of kings was superseded by government of and by the people and legal principles such as habeas corpus.
“There’s a direct link between the Magna Carta and our state government,” Benge said.
The Library of Congress and the American Bar Association developed the traveling educational exhibit to raise awareness about the Magna Carta’s enduring legacy. The traveling exhibit, displayed on freestanding banners with images of priceless Magna Carta-related items, complements the Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor exhibition previously on display at the Library of Congress.
The traveling exhibit is brought at no cost to the state through partnerships with the Library of Congress, American Bar Association and the Federalist Society. The state’s hosts are the Oklahoma Legislature, Secretary of State Chris Benge, the Oklahoma Arts Council, and the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

March & April AARP Drivers Safety Classes Offered

Date/ Day/ Location/ Time/ Registration #/ Instructor

Mar 20/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 681-3266/ Palinsky, Woodson Park Senior Center – 3401 S. May Ave
Mar 21/ Saturday/ Moore/ 9 am – 3:30 PM/ 799-3130/ Palinsky, Brand Senior Center – 501 E. Main
Apr 1/ Wednesday/ Warr Acres/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 789-9892/ Palinsky, Warr Acres Community Center – 4301 N. Ann Arbor
Apr 2/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9:30 am – 4 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards, Intergis 3rd Age Center – 5100 N. Brookline
Apr 10/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards,  S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Apr 11/ Saturday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 682-7859/ Palinsky, Okla. City Community College – 6500 S. Land
Apr 11/ Saturday/ Shawnee/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 818-2912/ Brase, Gordon Cooper Tech. Center -Sky Lab 1 Room – 1 John C. Burton Blvd.
Apr 14/ Tuesday/ Norman/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 360-5300/ Palinsky, 1st Baptist Church Family Life Center – 300 W. Commanche
Apr 25/ Saturday/ Chandler/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 258-5002/ Brase, Thompson Insurance – 121 W. 10th St.
The prices for the classes are:  $15 for AARP members and $20 for Non-AARP. Call John Palinsky, zone coordinator for the Oklahoma City area at 405-691-4091 or send mail to:

Don Narcomey, local artist, is currently working on the fourth installment of crucifixes he makes for the St. Anthony Healthplex facilities.
Each facility has 12 emergency rooms, with each one containing a custom built niche to house and light his beautiful crucifixes.
Narcomey is a talented artist using a variety of woods and other materials for his works and uses special care when searching for the right pieces. “For the Christ figure, I go out into the woods or rummage through torn out shrubbery and search for branches that have a “pose” that suggests a Christ figure.”  Finding the perfect material for his work is just the start, as he later returns to his studio to cut, grind, and carve these figures to take on a life of their own.
Narcomey’s newest creations will be displayed at the new St. Anthony Healthplex North location located on North Western Avenue.  St. Anthony Healthplex North officially opened its doors the last week of February.

What’s your favorite thing about spring? Featherstone Plaza Retirement and Assisted Living

The birds singing and things are trying to grow and just the whole atmosphere. Betty Young

I guess the best part is the beginning when we’ve been sitting in winter so long and we’re tired of it. It just makes you feel good. Hassie Milner

To me it’s the Talimena Scenic Drive and seeing all the trees in bloom. Bill Brown

I just love things growing whether it’s flowers or whatever. James Smith

The Y is pleased to announce it has received a $10,000 grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and its Services for Elderly iFund grant program.  The grant will be used to assist in funding the Y’s Lincoln Park Senior Center Independent Living Program’s Wellness Initiative which will allow the Y to increase its level of service to the population that it serves.
Many Oklahoma City seniors spend their days at the Lincoln Park Senior Center, where they come together to enjoy a meal, learn computer basics, attend a group exercise class, play games, and talk. Funding from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s iFund Service for the Elderly grant will bring OK 5210 into the Lincoln Park Senior Center.  OK 5210 stands for 5 fruits and vegetables a day; 2 hours or less of screen time; 1 hour of physical activity; 0 sugary beverages.
“Exercise, peer support, nutrition education and access to fresh and vegetables is vital for health at any age,” said Angela Jones, Health and Wellness Director for the Y. “Funding will provide seniors with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to snack on or take home daily and the opportunity to grow their own garden just outside of the Center. As part of the OK 5210 initiative, nutritionists and YMCA staff members will provide ongoing OK 5210 wellness education and activities for seniors at the Center this year.”
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Oklahoma City Metro, 12 Ys engage 160,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities across the country, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.
Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation works with donors and organizations to create endowments that address needs and opportunities within the community.  The Services for Elderly iFund grant program represents a compilation of contributions from donors who want to support grants to help keep senior citizens safe and living independently in their own homes.  For more information on the iFund grant program, please visit  For more information on the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, please visit
For more information about the Y’s LINCOLN PARK SENIOR CENTER or the OK 5210 initiative, contact Angela Jones at or at 405 297 7737.

An east-central Oklahoma legislator has filed a measure that would allow Oklahoma car, truck, van and motorcycle owners to renew their motor vehicle registration for more than just one year.
House Bill 1091 by Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester, was endorsed Thursday by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, and earlier by its Revenue and Taxation Subcommittee. The bill has been placed on the legislative calendar for consideration by the full House sometime within the next two weeks.
HB 1091 provides that “at the owner’s discretion” he/she could renew a non-commercial motor vehicle’s registration annually, or for two years or three. The fees for multi-year registration “shall be equivalent to the total of fees that would otherwise be assessed … if the owner had elected to renew the registration on an annual basis,” the bill stipulates.
“I think there are some Oklahomans who, as a matter of convenience, would prefer to register their vehicles once every two or three years instead of every 12 months,” Condit explained.
While the option of multiple-year registrations might shift an indeterminate amount of revenue to another fiscal year, no change in total registration fees would occur, House staff concluded.
Almost 4,070,000 vehicles and trailers were registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission in Fiscal Year 2014, generating $622.8 million, ledgers show. The vehicles included 2.96 million cars and pickups, nearly 151,000 farm trucks, more than 129,000 motorcycles, more than 16,000 motor homes, plus 72,500 travel trailers.

John Murgai and Lee Rose have helped Brookhaven Administrator Mollie Wooldridge (left) and Director of Nursing Dustin Schuler, RN, (third from left) keep residents healthier.

Like any good administrator, Brookhaven Extensive Care’s Mollie Woolridge is constantly looking for better ways to help her residents.
So when she heard about the Prevent Clinic and what it could do she was sold.
“We always want to give the best care for our residents so anything that’s new and can make their lives better or easier we want to try,” Wooldridge said. “What they pitched to us was what we needed because readmissions are an issue and these can prevent some. It can at least let us know when someone is declining.”
Enter John Murgai and Lee Rose with Prevent Clinic – an on-site health monitoring and management firm that specializes in identifying patients who are at-risk for hospital readmission.
Once those patients are identified, Prevent Clinic focuses on continued monitoring until the patient’s prognosis improves.
Patients in the Prevent Clinic – largely those with congestive heart failure – are examined once they begin the program and are then seen weekly.
“We know from the start if they are at risk and what to look for and they are monitored regularly by additional people,” Wooldridge said. “And it’s people that learn to know them.”
Brookhaven specializes in nursing care. And Dustin Schuler is the Director of Nursing.
From a clinical standpoint, he was all for using Prevent Clinic.
“It was just giving us an extra tool to care for the residents,” he said. “For a long time with skilled care you had to send them out to the hospital to get any kind of testing done. It was just a great option to help the residents.”
Wooldridge monitored the numbers and liked what she saw.
“When did this work? From the very beginning,” she said.
Prevent Clinic’s ultrasounds and dopplers are also at Schuler and his staff’s disposal.
“The technology the mobile x-ray has is pretty high-end,” he said.
“Once I got the nurses on board 100 percent it was definitely additional peace of mind,” he continued. “I think they like it, knowing there’s another test they could run. It gives them something else we can go to. They realize sending the resident to the hospital isn’t good for them and it isn’t good for the family.”
Health care reform has pinpointed hospital readmissions as a key area for improving care coordination and achieving potential savings.  Medicare patients have the largest share of total readmissions and the highest associated costs for readmission.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there were approximately 3.3 million adult hospital readmissions in the U.S. in 2011. That resulted in $41.3 billion in additional hospital costs.
For Medicare patients, the No. 1 condition resulting in readmission was congestive heart failure which was responsible for 134,500 readmissions. Septicemia and pneumonia were the next two conditions responsible for the majority of readmissions. These three conditions alone resulted in $4.3 billion in hospital costs.
At a time when hospitals are trying to lower a patient’s length of stay, patients are unfortunately coming home sicker than before.
The thinking is that objective hemodynamic data can lead to better outcomes and ultimately a lower cost of care.
“It’s an added plus on our side because we do something nobody else does,” Wooldridge said.
Initially, Wooldridge admits her staff was leary of taking on a new process. But Murgai quickly won them over.
“Trying new things is always difficult because you don’t want to add more work to already overworked people,” Wooldridge said. “But I think this helps them in so many different ways. It’s not additional work it’s additional eyes on our residents. More people can see a decline or an improvement.”
Murgai said Brookhaven is the first facility to use Prevent Clinic’s optimized program.
“We test every patient here,” Murgai said. “Every patient gets tested … that way nothing falls through the cracks for them.”
And the cracks are where patients can slip through, leading them back to the hospital.
“Hospitals are where sick people are and people get sicker sometimes when they go there,” Rose said.
That’s why keeping them out of the hospital is the best prescription.

Accredited by the Joint Commission, BrightStar Care is bridging the gap of home care services needed for a growing population of elders, says Ken Fearnow, president and administrator of BrightStar Care.

Story and photo by Jason Chandler, Staff Writer

Not every health care agency is accredited by the Joint Commission, but BrightStar Care operates with this distinction.
“It’s an accredidation that hospitals have to have, but very few home care companies would pursue because it’s hard work and it’s expensive,” said Ken Fearnow, president and administrator of BrightStar Care.
In 2013 Fearnow and his wife, Jannie, opened the private non-Medicare franchise agency in Edmond.
“Our slogan is ‘A Higher Standard of Care,’” Fearnow said. “What we hope to do is ensure a higher quality of life.”
The Fearnows believe that because of the types of services they provide that it is essential to hold themselves accountable to the highest quality of standards provided in the industry.
BrightStar serves the greater Oklahoma City metroplex by offering home care and medical staffing. A full range of services are provided in a client’s home, providing that they are well enough to stay at home and don’t need to be hospitalized, Fearnow said.
“It might be companionship and keeping people safe in their homes to people who don’t need a high level of personal care needs,” he said. “They just need safety and some help around the house, maybe light housekeeping and just preparing meals for them and those things.”
BrightStar also provides personal care services to people with a higher level of needs. They might have been discharged from the hospital and need some support in their house. Maybe they can’t get out of bed and they need help with transferring, walking and showering, Fearnow said.
“We also provide skilled nursing services,” Fearnow continued. “That would be anything from providing injections and withdrawing blood all the way to wound care.”
BrightStar also provides infusion therapy for certain types of patients.
“We like to hire people who have a heart for the work that they do,” Fearnow said. “And it’s kind of hard to test for until you get them in the field, but most of the people that are in this business are so because they have a lot of compassion. They really do it more for the satisfaction of helping other people.”
The nursing staff ranges from registered nurses to certified home health aides and certified nurse aides. These aides must have been certified for at least a year before BrightStar will consider hiring them.
“We just feel like they need to have some experience either working in a facility or working as a nurse aide before we want to put them with our clients,” Fearnow said. “We also require that they have CPR certification.”
There are also federal and state requirements for the nurse aides to have a 50-state criminal background check as well as checking the OSBI sex offender registry. They must also have a drug test and a negative tuberculosis test.
“We competency test them in various areas depending on the type of client they are going to see,” Fearnow said.
Members of the staff are in the business to enrich people’s lives, which is the focus of person centered care.
“They do it more for that than they do for the money,” Fearnow explained. “We have some caregivers — I can think of one in particular — who with more than one client we’ve had in their final hours; they’ve been holding hands and praying with them.”
Providing company is important to people who are mostly homebound or transferred with lifts and with varying degrees of disability.
“They require different expertise and different types of care,” Fearnow said. “To ensure this better quality of care, we try to match the likes and dislikes of the client with the likes and dislikes of the caregiver.”
Clients are contacted within 24 hours for feedback and to see if there is anything else that they need. Seven days later, the client is contacted again, followed by a once-a-month communication with the office. Surveys are sent to learn from the client how they are doing.
“We are in their home with them. We want to see how we are touching them at every stage,” Fearnow said.
Enriching the lives of other people by providing excellent care has also enriched Fearnow’s life.
“I always said, ‘The closer I get to the age of the people I’m caring for — and we have several that are about my age — the more important it is for me to provide the quality of care to them and the dignity I would want for myself.”
“It’s been a very rewarding business for me. My wife and I have enjoyed it very much.”