Kristen L. Mauk, PhD, DNP, RN, CRRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, ACHPN, FAAN
Dr. Mauk has been a Professor of Nursing for 26 years. Prior to moving to Colorado, she was a Professor of Nursing at a large private university in Indiana for nearly 25 years, and there she held the first Kreft Endowed Chair for the Advancement of Nursing Science, a position dedicated to gerontological nursing. She earned a BSN from Valparaiso University, an MS in Adult Health from Purdue University, a PhD from Wayne State University, a Post-Master’s GNP certification from University of Virginia, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Valparaiso University.
Dr. Mauk has more than 35 years of experience in chronic illness nursing, rehabilitation, and gerontological nursing, and teaches in these specialties at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She is certified in rehabilitation, as a gerontological nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist, and as an advanced palliative care and hospice nurse. She has authored or edited eight books, including two that were recognized with an AJN Book of the Year Award. She has served on editorial boards for Rehabilitation Nursing and Geriatric Nursing, and has written numerous articles and book chapters. Dr. Mauk is a frequent presenter at conferences at the regional, national, and international levels. She is the Co-Founder and President of Senior Care Central/International Rehabilitation Consultants, providing educational, clinical, and legal nurse consulting in rehabilitation and senior care in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Mauk is also a recent past president of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) and has served ARN in many roles, most significantly including the Council of Leaders, Editor of the 5th edition of the Core Curriculum, PRN course faculty, and the task force to develop the ARN Professional Rehabilitation Nursing Competency Model, and current Editor in Chief of Rehabilitation Nursing.
Some of Dr. Mauk’s recognitions include: Nominee for the 2016 National Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers, three AJN Book of the Year Awards (2017, 2010 & 1999), CASE/Carnegie Indiana Professor of the Year (2007), VU Caterpillar Award for Excellence in Teaching (2007), ARN Educator Role Award (2007), and the ARN Distinguished Service Award (2005). Dr. Mauk has taught nurses and students in China over the past few years. She has a passion for helping other countries to develop rehabilitation nursing into a strong specialty to promote quality care for their aging population and those with disabilities.
You may have heard of rehabilitation nursing, but are you familiar with what rehabilitation nurses do and their essential role in health care? According to the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN), there are four major domains within the new competency model for professional rehabilitation nursing (ARN, 2016) that can help us understand what rehabilitation nurses do. In this blog, we will look at the ARN model from a layperson’s viewpoint to help explain the role of the rehabilitation nurse. Rehabilitation nurses:
Promote successful living
Rehabilitation nurses do not only care for people, but they promote health and prevent disability. This means that rehab nurses engage in activities that help patients, families and communities stay healthy. Proactively, you might see rehab nurses helping with bike safety (such as promoting the wearing of helmets), car seat fairs (to keep children safe from injury), or stroke prevention through community screenings and teaching about managing risk factors. As rehab nurses, we also help patients towards self-management of existing chronic illness or disability, teaching them how to be co-managers with their health providers so they can maintain independence and have a good quality of life. Another key activity is facilitating safe care transitions. This means that rehabilitation nurses have a special skill set to know which setting of care is best for the patient to move to next and how to make this happen smoothly. For example, if Mrs. Smith has had a stroke and finished her time in acute rehabilitation in the hospital, but she lives alone and is not quite ready to go home, what is the best care setting or services for her to receive the help she needs? Many errors, such as those with medications, happen when patients go from one place to another in the health system. Rehabilitation nurses can help persons successfully navigate these complexities and be sure that clients get the continuity of care they need and deserve.
Give quality care
The interventions or care that rehabilitation nurses provide to patients and families is based on the best scientific evidence available. Part of being a rehab nurse is staying current on the latest technology, strategies for care, and best practices. This is to ensure that all patients receive the highest standard of care possible. We stay current in many ways, including reading journal articles, attending conferences, obtaining continuing education, and maintaining certification in rehabilitation. Research shows that having more certified rehabilitation nurses on a unit decreases length of stay in the hospital. In addition, all of rehab care focuses on the patient and family as the center of the interdisciplinary team. To this end, rehabilitation nurses teach patients and families about their chronic illness or disability across many different areas including: how to take medications; managing bowel and bladder issues; preventing skin breakdown; dealing with behavioral issues that might be present with problems such as brain injury or dementia; coping with changes from a disabling condition; sexuality; working with equipment at home; and ways to manage pain.
Collaborate with a team of experts
Rehabilitation nurses are part of an interprofessional team of physicians, therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, and many others who work together for the best patient outcomes. For persons who have experienced a catastrophic injury or illness, the work of this team of experts sharing common goals will provide the best care, and rehab nurses are the ones who are with the patient 24/7 to coordinate this process. Through effective collaboration, excellent assessment skills, and communication with the rest of the team members, rehab nurses ensure that patient and families are getting well-coordinated care throughout the rehabilitation process. Remember that rehabilitation takes place in many settings, whether on the acute rehab unit, in skilled care, long-term care, or the home. The nurse’s role is to be sure that the holistic plan of care is followed by all staff and that the physicians overseeing medical care are continually informed of patient progress for the best decision-making possible.
Act as leaders in rehabilitation
Not only do rehabilitation nurses provide direct patient care, they are also leaders in the rehabilitation arena. You might be surprised to learn that rehabilitation nurses advocate at the highest level for legislation surrounding funding and policy for those with disabilities and chronic illness, talking with Senators and Congressmen about key issues. ARN has professional lobbyists that continually watch health policy movement in Washington and keep rehab nurses informed. Rehab nurses help patients to advocate for themselves in holding government and communities accountable for needed care services. Lastly, rehab nurses share their knowledge with others. This is done in a variety of ways through conducting and publishing research, presenting at conferences, serving on local and national committees, and serving in public office. All of the leadership activities done by nurses in rehabilitation are to promote the best quality of care for patients with chronic illness and disability.
Depending on what long-term care option your loved one chooses, prices can vary. Many families may be surprised to find out that Medicare and private health insurance policies don’t typically cover the cost of care. Learn how you can pay for long-term care by reading on!
1. Long-Term Care Insurance
In addition to your health insurance, families can purchase an additional long-term care insurance policy for their loved one. Policies generally cover most services offered by a home care agency, nursing home, or assisted living facility. It’s best to purchase a long-term care insurance policy when your loved one is in good health as they may not qualify if there are any pre-existing conditions.
2. Life Insurance
If your loved one already has life insurance, they may be able to add a long-term care rider to their policy. An accelerated death benefit allows your loved one to get a tax-free advance on their policy while they are still alive to pay for the cost of care. If your loved one doesn’t require long-term care, their beneficiaries receive a tax-free benefit as long as the policy is in effect.
3. Reverse Mortgage
A reverse mortgage allows the homeowner to draw on their home’s equity to pay for long-term care. Your loved one can receive a lump sum or monthly payment and even open up a new line of credit. In the event of their death, heirs are left with the remainder of the home equity after paying off the amount owed. There are both pros and cons of having a reverse mortgage.
An immediate annuity and deferred long-term annuity can usually be purchased through your loved one’s insurance company. A single premium payment for an immediate annuity means they receive a specified amount of monthly income for a designated period of time. With a deferred long term annuity, they will have two sources of funding—one fund that is specifically for long-term care and another fund to use however they would like.
For seniors who don’t have an insurance policy or qualify for Medicaid, they must pay out-of-pocket. Planning for long-term care way before it’s needed can prevent stress and financial burden. This can benefit those who don’t want to pay high insurance premiums. However, only 1 in 4 adults over the age of 45 are actually prepared for the cost of care.
About the Author: Peter Kang is a writer for eCaregivers. He is inspired by his caregiver experience with his late grandfather and role model, a Korean War veteran, to help families find affordable care for their loved ones. Follow Peter on Facebook and Twitter.
Have you heard? A new government study has revealed that falls among adults over 65 rose over 30% in the past 10 years! While a fall every now and then may feel like no big deal, it is important for seniors to recognize that even seemingly harmless falls can lead to dangerous complications like hip fractures and head trauma.
If you or the person you care for hasn’t fall-proofed one of the most dangerous spots in the home, the shower, yet, don’t miss this essential list of helpful safety tools:
Are you still struggling with slippery bars of soap and hard-to-grip shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower? Get an easy-to-install toiletry dispenser instead which can stay fixed to the wall under your shower head and dole out toiletries in your hand as needed with the push of a button.
Experts recommend installing grab bars both inside and outside the shower on walls that are easy to reach and can fully support your weight when you brace against them. Similar products like bathtub bars which sit fixed on the side of a bathtub and provide a raised support to hold and steady yourself are great too for notoriously hard-to-navigate tub showers.
Non-slip Shower Mat
Not all shower mats are created equal, and for seniors taking fall prevention measures in the shower, finding one that stays in place and offers a textured non-slip surface to stand on is critical. Additional features like being antimicrobial and machine-washable also prevent the buildup of contaminants and mildew which are common to humid areas like the shower.
Even if you have no mobility issues at all, a shower chair may be a good investment if your space allows for it. Shower chairs make it easy to sit and rest in the shower if you suddenly feel weak or unbalanced. And specialty transfer chairs help caregivers easily get a loved one in and out of the shower without over-exerting themselves or putting their loved one’s safety at risk.
Handheld Shower Head
Quit trying to twist, turn, and contort your body when bathing yourself. A removable, handheld shower head is a must for easy, thorough washing that won’t leave you with a muscle strain in your back. Experts recommend getting one with at least 5 feet of maneuverable cord to allow for enough slack to raise and move it around your body with ease.
Outside of the shower, additional upgrades that can improve your safety and bathroom experience include automatic lights that provide consistent, bright lighting without having to flip a switch, non-slip bathroom mats, and raised toilet seats with handles.