GracePointe has new sleep program

By Rachel Kytonen

Many factors can play a role in a restless night’s sleep, and GracePointe Crossing is hoping to reduce those factors to help their residents have a better night’s sleep.

GracePointe Crossing has recently introduced a new three-year program in their Gables East and Gables West senior facilities called RSVP, which stands for Restorative Sleep Vitality Program.

Fritz Harcus and Cheryl Coutier are the RSVP program leaders for GracePointe Crossing. RSVP stands for Restorative Sleep Vitality Program, a new three-program recently launched at GracePointe Crossing. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

GracePointe Crossing received a three-year grant through the Minnesota Department of Health to launch the program, but plan to continue it past the three years. The program was developed by Empira, based out of Eden Prairie, that is a collaborative and cooperative effort of older adult service providers in Minnesota working together to integrate clinical excellence and best practices across the care continuum.

RSVP Coordinators Cheryl Coutier and Fritz Harcus explained the goal of RSVP is to support their resident’s health and well being by helping them have a more restful and refreshing sleep throughout the night.

They have both been working on the program about a month, but said everything is going well.

“The outline of the program was developed by Empira and the main goal of year one is to find out what creates sleep disturbances for our residents,” Coutier said, who has over nine years of experience studying the matter. “We are also looking at gathering information, doing night audits, and looking for noise and lighting issues.”

Year one of the program is assessment and observation of the residents and their environment to identify factors causing sleep disturbances. It will also identify clinical and operational factors that contribute to sleep disturbances, as well as training for staff on the program’s goals, sleep disturbance and program’s assessment tools.

“The number one thing that disrupts people’s sleep in a nursing or anywhere is noise,” Coutier said. “A lot of people like to fall asleep with the television on and that can be a hard thing to get away from. You can have constant arousal in your brain waves because you have the television on, but not even be aware of it. Lighting also plays a huge role in people’s sleep, and leaving lights on in residents’ rooms can be a huge disruption.”

Year two of the RSVP program will be to develop an action plan with long and short term goals to reduce sleep disturbances. RSVP leaders and their teams will group causes of sleep disturbances into manageable categories or conditions and provide education on interventions and practices to reduce/eliminate the conditions.

Coutier and Harcus said providing a partnership where residents can sleep through the night and awaken based on their biological clock will require a partnership between the resident, family and the nursing home.

As part of the data collection, Coutier and Harcus will use actigraphy watches that records people’s movements to record sleep patterns.

“The watches will allow us to record the activity when the resident is sleeping in bed and we can look at their sleep state,” Coutier said.

Harcus added GracePointe also just received a sound level meter so they will be able to measure the decibel level of noise in the buildings and during the different shifts.

“We are doing a broad focus in both our Gables East and Gables West buildings,” Harcus said. “We will be able to identify our problem sleepers and use the tools we have and our own skills to help do what we can to provide them with a better night’s sleep.”

Julie Tooker, GracePointe Crossing’s Community Relations Director, said staff is also being provided educational materials about the program.

“As a result of this RSVP program staff will learn what to do and what not to do to help provide our resident’s with a better night’s sleep,” Tooker said. “We will also consider making different changes within our staff as a result of the data collection and analysis that we will be gathering.”

Coutier said there are many benefits to getting a better night’s sleep.

“This can potentially cut down on falls, combative behaviors, extreme tiredness and sleepiness,” Coutier said. “Everyone knows what it’s like not have a good night’s sleep. We are looking to improve the quality of life for our residents by improving the quality of their sleep.”

Coutier and Harcus said they have placed educational bulletin boards in the buildings to educate staff, as well as residents, about the RSVP program.

“We are hoping to make changes to facilitate better sleep in people,” Harcus said. “It’s important to get restorative sleep.”

Did you know?

  • Older people need an average of 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Limit daytime napping to one 20 to 30 minute nap to ensure good sleep at night. Extended naps throw off the nighttime sleep cycle.
  • Deep uninterrupted sleep allows the body to repair cell damage and refreshes the immune system, which helps to prevent disease and illness.
  • Lack of sleep can cause an increased risk for falls, increased sensitivity to pain and an increased risk of depression and memory loss.
  • Melatonin  hormone that induces sleep in humans and animals. As we age we produce less melatonin, which results in a more fragmented nighttime sleep.
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