NORTHEAST HARBOR, ME – One remarkable outcome of Island Health Director Sharon Daley’s work among Maine islands is the dedicated, ongoing network of eldercare workers from ten unbridged islands. The group meets virtually throughout the year via Zoom or conference calls to share on-the-job information, answer questions, and offer professional camaraderie.
Each year the Mission hosts an ElderCare Conference at which the network eldercare health workers meet for two days to talk shop, learn from guest speakers, and to socialize in-person.
This year’s ElderCare Conference, originally planned for January at Nebo Lodge, an island inn and restaurant on North Haven island, is being rescheduled. The new itinerary will be announced though the Mission’s social media as soon as possible. The original itinerary included plenty of time for ElderCare workers to relax and recharge.
“One of the really important things we do,” Sharon Daley said of the network, is meeting frequently with Maine State government administrators about regulations affecting island ElderCare Homes. Designed to provide island elderly a way to spend their final years on the islands, near family and friends, these homes “don’t fit in the box the State has kind of made,” said Sharon.
The conference is “a chance for the home administrators to work with the State people on helping regulations make sense,” she said.
Other guest speakers on tap for the 2022 ElderCare Conference are:
Tammy Usher – Provider Relations Specialist at State of Maine.
Susan Wehry, MD – Chief of Geriatrics at the UNE College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Director of AgingME, Maine’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program.
Anand Viswanathan, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Director, Mass General Brigham Telestroke Program.
In addition, said Sharon, in the wake of a very challenging Covid-19 year, “We hope to have an occupational or massage therapist and do yoga. We’re going to spend time on self-care; kind of spoil the people who have been doing the [island elderly] care.”
NORTH HAVEN, ME — Day one of the Mission’s 2020 Annual Island Eldercare Retreat. Host Sharon Daley, RN — who is also the Mission’s Island Health Services Director — with guidelines to help manage the discussions and presentations. The writing on the paper pad says:
Eldercare Retreat opening day. Visiting the wonderful Southern Harbor House eldercare facility on North Haven, right around its first birthday!
Maine Seacoast Mission to host annual 2020 Island Eldercare Retreat
Tue, 01/07/2020 – 10:30am
NORTH HAVEN — An ongoing network of island community members will attend an annual eldercare conference, Wednesday, Jan 8 – 9, at Southern Harbor House, North Haven.
Guest presentations include:
Dr. Lauren Michalakes, a hospice and palliative medicine specialist presenting on Maine’s Death with Dignity law.
Chris Wolff, Elder Abuse Institute of Maine director of Community Engagement, speaking on elder abuse.
Heather LaFramboise, program director for Avita of Brunswick, will address taking a positive approach to dementia care.
The Mission network includes: Maine Seacoast Mission Island Health Services Director Sharon Daley, RN and eldercare workers from the island communities of Cranberry Isles, Swan’s Island, Vinalhaven, North Haven, Matinicus, Islesboro, Chebeague, Long Island, Peaks Island, and Cliff Island.
“This group is spearheading personal, effective care for the elderly on Maine unbridged islands, through communication among the island communities and working with State agencies to better understand the needs of small eldercare home and island communities,” said Maine Seacoast, in a news release.
BAR HARBOR, ME — Thank you, Down East magazine, and contributing editor Jesse Ellison for your excellent May 2019 piece, “No Elder an Island.” The Mission’s Island Health Director, Sharon Daley, RN, is a pioneer in Maine unbridged island adult family care homes. Among Director Daley’s work with island communities aboard the ‘Sunbeam,’ she also hosts the Mission’s annual Elder Care Conference made up of many people mentioned in Ms. Ellison’s story. // Learn more about Sharon Daley’s work here.
[Maine Seacoast Mission Island Health Director Sharon] Daley argues, there’s something to be said for the islands’ scaled-down, community-driven approach. “I feel like the islands have figured out how to do eldercare, and the rest of the country needs to follow,” she says.
“Almost all of the eldercare homes on the mainland are really large, and I think even though they try hard, it becomes more institutionalized. Everyone is lined up in wheelchairs. Staff is usually overworked, and it’s heavy work.
“People don’t like to visit. My father was in a place like that, and I had to brace myself every time I walked in. These places are not like that.”
Some ElderCare Conference 2018 attendees at the end of day two.
ISLESBORO, ME — No doubt the group of elder care providers and presenters at the Maine Seacoast Mission’s October 23-24 on Island ElderCare Conference on Islesboro island were very glad to be at the table, said one attendee, “with people who speak the same language.”
For ten years Mission Island Health Director Sharon Daley, RN, has helped create a network for the islands represented at the Conference. “What a great group of people who do so much for many,” Sharon said of the event.
In addition to this annual in-person Conference, the group stays connected throughout the year in other ways.
In the Mission’s July 13, 2018 blog post, “Maine Island Elder Care Homes: Ahead of Their Time,” Sharon Daley explained the network’s effectiveness. Between conferences we “have monthly phone calls. Two or three times a year we meet in Augusta with State people involved in licensing and regulations. Island elder care homes got a 15-percent MaineCare increase when we proved it costs more to run an elder care home on an island,” Sharon said.
Islands represented at this year’s conference were: Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, Isle au Haut, Islesboro, Islesford, Long Island, North Haven, Peaks Island, and Vinalhaven.
The guest presenters and their topics for discussion were:
Maine Health Care Association President & CEO Rick Erb, and also, State government representatives with updates on Elder Care Issues.
Betty J. Harris, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and APPE Coordinator at Husson University’s School of Pharmacy, Bangor, ME discussed medication awareness/safety tips.
Music Therapist Melissa Violette spoke about the benefits of music therapy with dementia, and also, as self-care for caregivers.
Kandyce Powell, Executive Director of Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care spoke about many aspects of dealing with grief.
Nancy Hathaway, licensed by the State of Maine as the first Licensed Pastoral Counselor in the Buddhist tradition, gave an Introduction to Mindfulness-based Compassionate Communication.
“This conference just gives so much energy. You go back (home) with so many ideas. Keep having this conference. It’s so important,” said Cindy Thomas of Islesford.
Asked for their takeaways from the Conference, attendee’s answers included: the need for island elder caregivers to frame their stories and share them with their island populations. Also, building the community presence, working on a drug take back program, advance directives, living on fixed incomes, and strengthening the network.
Peggy Akers of Cliff Island said in a followup email to Sharon Daley and Sharon’s assistant Margaret Snell, “Thank you for all you do to bring us together each year. You fill our hearts and our souls with so much. Music, food, friendship, and continued passion for the dreams we all have for our beautiful islands.”