Ecumen Receives Innovation Award for Its ‘Senior Care Excellence’ Training Programs

Ecumen has received a “Stars Among Us Innovation Award” from LeadingAge Minnesota for its Senior Care Excellence program designed to help reduce the shortage of long-term care nurses in rural Minnesota.

Ecumen’s Senior Care Excellence program provides enhanced training for nursing school faculty focused on older adult care. Ecumen partnered with nursing faculty statewide and with Minnesota State Mankato’s School of Nursing to design a workshop called “Senior Care Excellence: Enhancing Your Clinical Toolbox – Best Practices in Geriatric Care for Faculty in Transitional Care/Long Term Care.” The sessions, conducted by Minnesota State nursing faculty and Ecumen nursing staff in Mankato and Duluth, helped educators refresh their knowledge and skills in aging services and bring current best practices into their classrooms and classroom settings.

The workshops grew out of the Ecumen Scholars program, which provides fellowships, internships and clinical rotations at Ecumen sites to more than 500 students in the aging services field. With that experience, Ecumen learned from college faculty that more training was needed for instructors in long-term care. This desire came at a time when more and more nurses will have considerable interactions with seniors no matter where they work, due to the state’s rapidly-growing aging population.

Gayle Kvenvold, President and CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota, the state association of senior housing and services providers, presented Ecumen with the award at the association’s Institute and Expo in Saint Paul February 6. “The Innovation Award honors programs that transform and enhance the experience of aging,” she said. “With a rapidly growing aging population in Minnesota, Ecumen recognized a need to bring a more in-depth perspective of the aging services field into college nursing programs that have focused almost exclusively on acute care training. The Senior Care Excellence program is shaping the future of aging services by breaking down stereotypes, winning hearts and minds, and improving the quality and accessibility of care for Minnesota’s seniors across the state.”

“Much of the growth in nursing jobs will be outside the hospital setting due to changing demographics and economic realities of healthcare delivery,” said Brett Anderson, Ecumen Vice President of Nursing. “Positive experiences during clinical rotation and confident, quality input on geriatric topics are necessary to attract graduates to the growing field of older adult care. How nursing faculty present our industry to students is pivotal. We strongly believe that partnering with faculty today will lead to student nurses choosing our industry and helping all providers deliver quality resident care in the future.”

Anderson said planning is underway for additional workshops in the summer of 2019. Senior Care Excellence workshop topics include enhancing clinical skills, improving quality in long-term care, and promoting critical thinking as well as focusing on the difference between dementia and delirium and end of life, hospice and palliative care. 

Ecumen received its Innovation Award at the LeadingAge Minnesota Institute, the state’s largest and most comprehensive aging services conference attended by more than 4,000 older adult services professionals in all aspects of older adult services. Pictured (l to r): Nancy Stratman, Chair, LeadingAge Minnesota Board of Directors; Kim Kvale, RN, Ecumen Nurse Leader; Sonya DeSmith, RN, Ecumen Regional Nurse Consultant; Brett Anderson, RN, Ecumen Vice President of Nursing Services; Sara Sterling, LeadingAge Minnesota Awards & Recognition Committee Chair.