Did You Know…The Jewish Holiday of Purim

Tonight at sunset begins the Jewish holiday of Purim which continues through tomorrow evening  at sunset. 

Purim is the Jewish holiday of Purim which commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman – a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. 

According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and Queen Esther. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing. 

Purim is characterized by public recitation, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther (known as k’riat megillah). In addition to this  there are additions to the regularly said prayers and the grace after meals, the giving of mutual gifts of food and drink, giving charity to the poor, and a celebratory meal.  Other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration. 

Like Hanukkah, Purim has more of a national than a religious character, and its status as a holiday is on a lesser level than those days ordained holy by the Torah. Accordingly, business transactions and even manual labor are allowed on Purim.


Thank You to LTC Administrators

During this National Long Term Care Administrator’s Week, we in the Spirituality Pillar would like to share our sincere appreciation for Signature’s facility Administrators. Ensuring quality, resident-centered care is a mission we share with you and we couldn’t do it without your help and steady hand! As you close out another busy week, take a moment to look around to see all the lives you touch in a positive and compassionate way every day of the year and count us among your fans!  – from The Spirituality Pillar


“A Conversation With My Mom” An Introduction to Palliative Care

By Dianne Timmering, Vice President of Spirituality & Legislative Affairs
I recently came across this conversation with my mom in January 2012 which I had written down at the time, just after she had passed away in one of our SNFs. I wrote it down to capture her voice. The white page with black ink breathes her immortality and is a true treasure to me. Just like a buried light, it gifts me with her memory and I feel her presence, alive and well.
I offer this conversation to everyone to serve as an introduction to our new palliative care core service line. Being able to relive this moment is a powerful example of just how palliative care can Capture a voice in every breath of life. A voice can live long, ring in your ear as a reminder of warmth, of home, of direction, of comfort. The voice is a reminder not to forget, and to live…
January 9, 2012 – Had a good conversation with mom today . . .
I told her sorry that she had fallen and broke her ribs, that convalescing was tough; from there we may have discussed the rottenness of the disease [for she had Parkinson’s]. I just don’t know.
“Hello precious girl,” she said.
She reached out to hug me. I’m so glad she did.
“It is good being with you,” I said.
“It is good to see you,” she whispered.
“You look beautiful,” I said.
“Look at that pretty face,” she said to me. And then she admonished. “Fix your hair.” (She was always saying that).
Mom told me just how proud she was of me. It meant so much.
I prayed in God’s name and by His stripes she was healed across her body. . .
We studied each other twice like she had so much to tell me so I said, “there is so much going on in that head of yours which you just can’t say.” She knew . . . maybe she just knew.
“You’re the best mommy in the world,” I say, because she could barely speak.
“I love you,” she said with a deep guttural breath, like the gulp couldn’t get out of her way.
Why didn’t I take the time to lie down with her that Friday? Can I forgive myself?
“Hi mommy,” I say.
“Hi precious,” she would respond.
“Hi mommy.”
“Hi Di.”
“Trust Me fully,” God says.
The vacancy in her eyes – so much to say, or nothing, or just peace, like her voice and thoughts couldn’t connect anymore.
I can’t pocket away the grief. I can’t put it in a closet. I can’t do anything with it.
But God knew. Together the 3 of us, dad, my sister, and I assembled the most amazing and beautiful package of love – dad doing his role, Linda hers, and me mine. Not one did more or less. We just did as God orchestrated from above. But God then who was she calling? (She passed with the phone in her hand).
I don’t think she wanted to die.
Did we give her up too soon?
I picked my home over visiting my mom too many times, or was it just rest after a long day?
I wish I could look upon her again-her sculpted face and red cherry hair.
Why didn’t I know she wanted grapefruit and oranges . . . I could have brought her some. . .
The grief I suppose takes one day at a time to process and God sweeps it away behind us as we release it to a new ecosystem of life and survival.
The silence feels good.
Hi Mommy. . .Hi Mommy, Hi Di . . .
She could reach out and touch my face because she could see it; I hope it was a light to her. I hope she knew how much I loved her.

Signature Spirituality’s STracker system, explained

Signature Spirituality has been recognized by McKnight’s with an Excellence in Technology Award for its use of the STracker system to document chaplain interactions and improve care and services with regard to spirituality, as well as how spirituality interfaces with other disciplines. Read more about STracker below.

What is the STracker System?
STracker is a technological innovation that is a SharePoint-based tracking system that is a shortened combination of the words (“spirituality tracker”).

What does the system do?
This system is designed to provide a universally accessible system of online reporting for the encounters that chaplains have week-to-week with residents and other individuals or groups (stakeholders, family and community members).

Why was it developed?
The system was developed with the intent of both tracking the inputs of chaplain care as well as directing chaplain services towards vital areas of need within a given facility.

How often are reports generated?
Reports are pulled from the system weekly and sent to all chaplains, administrators, regional vice-presidents as well as to senior team members.

What were specific benefits that were derived from this effort?
The Stracker system and it’s quick-turnaround reporting allow for chaplain care inputs to be captured and reported in a short time frame giving feedback to chaplains and facility partners on their work.

The system allows chaplains to better target their efforts particularly with regards to certain issues over time, so as to apply greater efforts where needed.

Who assisted in this effort?
The Stracker system was designed by the Signature Spirituality department in collaboration with the in-house Signature Information Technology Team. The line items and organizational structure of the system was laid out by the Spirituality Team where the SharePoint system programming, reporting modules creation and access point coordination with the field were all created by the Information Technology Team.

DID YOU KNOW . . . Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)

Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sunset this evening, September 13th, and ends on at sunset on September 14th.

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year” and is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.  The holiday is a solemn one and is a time of introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year, similar to the secular “New Year’s Resolutions” so many make every January 1st.

Rosh Hashanah is linked to the Day of Atonement holiday, Yom Kippur, which takes place 10 days later. These two days, and the days in between, are known as the Days of Awe or the Days of Repentance and are meant to mark a time of repentance and reconciliation.

The holiday was instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25 and Jews believe that Rosh Hashanah represents, either figuratively or literally, the creation of the World or the Universe. In Jewish liturgy Rosh Hashanah is described as “the day of judgment” and “the day of remembrance”. Some early Midrashic descriptions (the Midrash is a series of early homiletic-style commentaries) depict God as sitting upon a throne, while books containing the deeds of all humanity are opened for review, and each person passing in front of Him for evaluation of his or her deeds.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayer book called the Machzor used for both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays. One of the most important liturgical practices associated with this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet and is blown at four particular occasions in the prayers on Rosh Hashanah.

The ritual of tashlikh is performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one’s sins are symbolically cast into the water. Many also have the custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the “casting off” of sins. The traditional service for tashlikh is recited individually and includes the prayer “Who is like unto you, O God…And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”, and Biblical passages including Isaiah 11:9 (“They will not injure nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”) and Psalms 118:5-9, 121 and 130, as well as personal prayers. Though once considered a solemn individual tradition, it has become an increasingly social group ceremony for many communities.

Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of a wish for a sweet new year. Bread is also dipped in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.


Spirituality Activated Solutions – Multiple Clinical Issue Improvement Program


Based on goal setting accomplished this year with facility administrators, the Spirituality Pillar is developing and piloting new programming to further address specific needs in our facilities.

Faced with multiple needs on multiple fronts at once, Clarksville chaplain Charles Thornburg decided, with support and input from both his administrator and the clinical team, to study the use of the new and promising Music & Memory program in an attempt to positively affect several clinical issues at once, specifically depression, falls, antipsychotic medication usage and behavior issues, particularly in dementia patients.

Music & Memory is a program which creates personalized music playlists especially for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in an attempt to increase communication, activity and improve quality of life for both the patients as well as for those who care for them. Chaplain Charles’ study takes this concept to the next level by attempting to quantify the beneficial results of this program into broader clinical areas in order to further show expanded practical applicability towards clinical and operational indicators. This is done in the hopes of better proving the broader efficacy of this new low cost, non-pharmacological treatment option for so many in need.

Early results from the original test group of 7 residents were so encouraging that the program has been expanded to include 15 more.  So far all the participants have had no falls (all were at risk), are all maintaining their weight levels (personalized music is being played for them during meal times), and every one of them have seen significant reductions in their behavior issues, especially in outbursts and anxiety.

The full details of the case study can be found at http://ltcrevolution.com/pillars/spirituality/resource-center/publications


DID YOU KNOW . . . Labor Day

Today is the observance of Labor Day is the United States, a federal holiday that occurs on the first Monday in September and which celebrates the building of a nation upon the prospect of achievement and the contributions of the efforts of so many to create an engine of prosperity that has been enjoyed by so many.

The first big Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union of New York. It was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day.

Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date was chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions.

All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. In many social circles, Labor Day is often considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable to wear white.


Spirituality Activated Solutions – Nursing Stability Improvement Program


Based on goal setting accomplished this year with facility administrators, the Spirituality Pillar is developing and piloting new programming to further address specific needs in our facilities.

Marking the need for increased nursing stability at the Erin, TN facility, long-time chaplain David Steppee conducted a study designed to measure the effectiveness on this critical metric of concentrated and targeted efforts on the part of the chaplain to affect real and significant change for the better.

With the support of the administrator and the human resources department, Chaplain David began taking a greater part in every new hire’s orientation, as well as  performing specific, engagement-oriented regular visits with not only the new stakeholders, but also with those deemed most in need by the DON and the other Department Heads.

By close partnering with a new HR director, and in the midst of a major staffing shortage in their small, rural area, Chaplain David was able to significantly move the needle upward on nursing stability over the 90 day period of study. This was due in no small part by providing increased recognition of top performers in providing care, as well as by what David describes as “making a greater attempt to make the new hires feel warm, welcome, and most of all, prepared.”

The full details of the case study can be found at http://ltcrevolution.com/pillars/spirituality/resource-center/publications



Signature Chaplains First Cluster Meeting of 2015 – July 21 and 22, 2015

“This past week saw the first of the 2015 Chaplain Cluster Meetings . . . and the Spirit was indeed present at the event!

Some comments from the attendees . . . .

“Don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel I’ve gone to the well and drawn what I needed.  Thanks to everyone for sharing your spirit.”
Mark Mills, Chaplain, Signature Healthcare of Warren

“Thank you all exceptional people for exceptional experience in Ohio.  I have been around the chaplain block a few years, but never worked with such an anointed leadership team and a wonderful organization as  Signature HealthCare. Dianne T, Carol H, David E, Tim H as well as our cluster (IN/OH), I am blessed to know you, and re-energized to serve for His glory. We are all in the winner team! Once more, merci boku, gracias, sosongo and whatever the language, my heart says: thank you.”
– Ani Ikene, Chaplain, SHC of South Bend

“What a great time I had at our cluster meeting this week. Just wanted to say thanks to all of you who I met for the first time it was truly a pleasure. God bless your works in Indiana, and to we Ohio Chaplains it is always great to be with you as well. My prayers are with each of you and I covet your prayers as well. Love to all of you.”
                – Dallas E. Waggle, Chaplain, Signature HealthCARE of Galion

“Loved meeting all of you from Indy and to rekindle support and care from the Ohio group. LaKeya, continue to pass out those trays – I’m right there with you. And to the winners of the tower building – congrats but we will take you down next time.”
               – Mark E. Brodbeck, Chaplain Signature HealthCARE Coshocton

IN-OH 2015 Cluster mtg