Matt Reiners, a co-founder of Eversound, sat down with Bonnie Jacobs, Vice President of Recreation/Life Enrichment at NewGen Health, providing support to 30 skilled nursing communities across 3 states, to understand how she landed a recent CMP grant for Eversound. In December of 2020, Bonnie and the Eversound team worked together on a CMP grant worth $231,243 that supports the implementation of the Eversound wireless listening systems in seven (7) skilled nursing communities in the State of Washington. This grant project equips the participating nursing homes with the Eversound technology and provides the training necessary for staff to use it with residents to enable them to fully engage regardless of their level of hearing loss.
Can you tell me a little bit more about NewGen Health?
We have 30 communities in California, Washington State, and Nevada. We specialize in providing Person Centered quality care within our homes. We are primarily skilled nursing and have rehab, sub-acute units, and assisted living.
Sounds like you’re doing a lot of great things. I’m curious, what’s your history in long-term care and senior living?
I started out as a recreation therapist in New York City. I moved to California and I started working as an activity director in the late 80s. Then I started consulting independently and worked my way to a regional corporate position and have been focused on that ever since.
What inspired you to be a Recreational Therapist?
When I was in college, I worked at a VA in a drug and alcohol rehab unit. After school, I worked in a facility helping developmentally disabled children and adults.
I happened to be visiting my aunt in New York, back in 1982 or 1983 and I really liked Brooklyn. So I told her I was going to stay with her.
She said, if you’re going to stay, you have to pay, you can’t just live here forever. And I said, but I’m your favorite niece. She said, No, you need a job.
So I found a job in a nursing home in New York. And as soon as I walked in, I knew this is where I belonged.
I love people. I love the people I help. I love the unique rich life histories people have. I’ve met so many amazing people just through the years and it just warms my heart to be able to help.
What made you seek out receiving a CMP grant?
I noticed that money was available for technology grants through the civil money penalty funds. So I figured if that money was available there, there’s got to be money somewhere. So I started researching how to access grant funding to bring engagement technology to NewGen communities. And then I found that under each states’ CMP program there was this big pile of money available for grants.
I was thinking, well, I want some of that money for our communities. So then I thought, well, what do I want that money for? So that’s when I thought of Eversound.
I was thinking what can I do to really help improve the lives of the people in our homes? And Eversound was a clear answer and knowing you, Matt, that’s when I gave you a call!
We go back a few years Bonnie, but I am always happy when you call. I’m curious, what ways did you and your colleagues consider using Eversound in your communities before receiving the grant?
Honestly, at first it was mostly for safe family visits. Before we got the grant for visitation we were just doing window visits. We weren’t allowed to have indoor visitation like so many other communities across the country.
And it’s really hard to connect with somebody through a window, and you can’t really hear them. Or, you know, in some instances, it was difficult to even see. So I thought Eversound’s headphones could help solve this problem and utilizing a CMP grant I thought we could get creative with the funding of this engagement technology.
What would you say to another provider considering applying for a grant to help them introduce Eversound into their community?
Do it. It’s easy. The grant, the grant process itself can be cumbersome, but the help that Eversound provided made it easy. Eversound really helped a lot with the grant paperwork and helped to guide me through the whole process, actually.
Would you recommend another provider to seek out a grant for Eversound or other engagement technology?
Absolutely. I can’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t want to seek out grant opportunities. You know, especially because we all know what it’s like in healthcare, money’s just not growing on trees.
So anything that we can do to help improve resident’s quality of life through creative financing is amazing.
What would you say your communities’ experiences with Eversound have been?
So when we initially got it was just for visitation which we are still doing. We quickly realized that this wasn’t just a tool for visits but a tool for the entire community.
We’re sharing it with nursing who have been trained on how to use Eversound with our residents.. Eversound helps the nurses to communicate with the residents.
I’ve seen it used in therapy sessions. It’s interesting that often times, we think that people are confused, but when we put the device on them, they can actually hear what you’re saying. Turns out that they’re not confused. There’s just an issue with their hearing.
We’re using it for small group programs now as well as for hallway activities, so we can be doing things with the residents in the hallway and not bothering the nurses by yelling.
Any challenges you want to share about overseeing a CMP grant or like the implementation of it?
There’s a monthly report, documentation that needs to be done by the people at the facility level. And just getting them on board to do the documentation took a little doing. I had to explain to the communities that the CMP grant is not just free money. The state wants to see how Eversound is improving the lives of our residents so we all have to partner together. You know, I was fortunate with this grant that I was able to hire a contracted consultant that keeps up with all that stuff. So she’s on them, but she’s constantly having to follow up, follow up, follow up with them.
How long did the process take?
I started talking with Eversound about a CMP grant in late August, and we filed our application about one month later and got approval from the Washington state CMP office in early December. We started implementing the grant in January of 2021.
How do you think therapeutic recreation improves residents’ quality of life?
I believe that we lead the charge to help the staff and everyone to look at that person as an individual, and not just a body and a bed.
What we do brings humanity to the nursing homes, because you know nursing homes were like a combination of the old poorhouse with the hospital. And I don’t think that they were ever intended to be places that people go to live for a long time because now we’re living a lot longer.
It’s kind of helping to move the world that the people live in from a medical model to a more socially improved quality of life, and giving people choices, respecting them, and honoring them for who they are.
What would you say has been the biggest success you’ve had with the Eversound grant program so far? besides getting equipment that was paid for by a grant!
I think just seeing the increased resident engagement, seeing the residents looking happy again, because they can hear, it’s just helping to give them a better life in their world.
Even though it is work, everybody should do it. This was the first grant that I applied for, and I, and I’m in the middle of another one. And I already have another one in mind.
To learn more about collaborating on a CMP grant application with Eversound contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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