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EP 146 SCI Netcast: Stephanie Gremaux- Author- Navigating Nursing Homes

EP 146 SCI Netcast: Stephanie Gremaux- Author- Navigating Nursing Homes
Stephanie Gremaux
Stephanie Gremaux
Navigating Nursing Homes Book

Find Stephanie’s new book here:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09M7Q9B18/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

When the need for a skilled nursing facility arises, you can find yourself overwhelmed with all the decisions that need to be made. Or, you get one question answered and ten more pop up. Which facility is right for my situation? Who are the people that work there and who should I go to for help? What will Medicare cover? How can I be an effective advocate for my loved one? Navigating Nursing Homes will answer all these questions and more! It is an easy-to-read guide with an overview of what the facilities are and the services they provide, the departments, staff, and their roles. It covers the admission and discharge processes, short-term and long-term care, and what insurance may or may not cover. This book skips the medical jargon and goes right to the information that is relevant to you to save you time and frustration, and get the most out of your stay and your insurance coverage.
The back of the book provides space to help keep your thoughts and information organized as you navigate your way through the facility stay. Appendixes with additional information and lists of insightful questions will help guide your thoughts when advocating for a loved one.

Full Transcript

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with The Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years of experience in the senior care market share their advice. So let’s get to it. In a few sentences, to tell us who you are and what you do.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Well, thank you very much for having me on this podcast. I really appreciate the time. My name is Stephanie Gremaux and I am a speech language pathologist. I have been practicing in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities since 2012. And most recently I have become a published author and I wrote a book called Navigating Nursing Homes. And I’ll show you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, show us. Awesome. Congratulations.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So much fun.

Stephanie Gremaux:

I saw a lot of people in my practice being confused at the long term care or even the short term rehab process. A lot of them asking many of the same questions, trying to figure out their way. So I wrote the book hoping to clear some of that confusion and answer a lot of their questions.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And what a nice thing to be able to say. Well, in my book, I said… Oh, that’s awesome. I love it. I love being a published author. And I know that, especially your first book, it’s your baby. You get it in the mail. And it’s the most exciting thing ever. So, aside from that, it’s full of great information and tips and knowledge for mainly adult children and seniors who have a loved one who needs 24 hour care.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Correct.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s great. Well, tell us a little bit about what’s in the book like chapters, subjects that you cover so people have a better idea of what’s going on there.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Sure. So I go over all of the departments that are going to be in a nursing home. There’s a whole chapter on the therapy department and another chapter on the medical department, who the people are, what their roles are. I see family members coming up to just the first person that they see walking in the door, asking a question. And if you’re not finding the right people, you’re just wasting your time or you’re just going to be sent off to another person or maybe on a wild goose chase, trying to find out who to talk to. So there’s also an area of the book of directed questions, frequently asked questions. Maybe these are the ones that you should be asking. A lot of people, maybe aren’t asking the right questions. So it really lays it all out. There’s a chapter on Medicare and Medicare advantage and the supplement plans and what those might cover, what those might mean in the nursing home.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Very nice. Very nice. Yeah. My dad was in a nursing home for a couple of years and even though I get it, I navigate it. I’ve talked about it for a million years. You still tend to, an adult child, even though this is what we do, this is our thing, your family member, and you walk into that nursing home for the first time, or even the 10th time. You just want to stop the first person and say, “How’s my dad today?” And they have no idea what you’re talking about. And even in a smaller nursing home, he was in a smaller, which I liked a lot. It wasn’t huge. They had to direct me to the right person. So I learned to go to his room first and maybe find the people that were on that hall instead of the first person, or put the call light on and stand at the door and look for a human head or something like that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Or as you get used to it, you find out where the nurse station is for his particular hall. And if there’s someone sitting in there, how to preface that conversation with, I know you might not be my dad’s nurse today, but I have a question, “Can you tell me who’s taken care of?” In their name. And it is hard to learn all the lingo and the stuff and the schedule they have everybody wants to be a [inaudible 00:04:28] because they have to get the jobs done.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yes. And even something as simple as figuring out the dietary system, figuring out the menu and trying to find out what did they eat or what options do they have to eat? Because not everybody can choose for themselves. So being able to find out what the facility system is for that and helping your family member or loved one, pick out their food for the day, knowing that it’s something that they’ll like can be such a small way to advocate for them to have a good day.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I have a great dingbat family thing that I did. Okay. So the pandemic hit and we couldn’t visit at all, right? So I would send my dad’s stuff through Amazon because maybe something to do, some clothes. I would send him snacks. He doesn’t have any deficits with eating or talking. He has dementia, but it’s vascular dementia. But anyway, he could talk and communicate.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I would send his favorite snack was peanut butter. And yes, I am a nurse. And he had complained that sometimes the facility would either be out of peanut butter. I mean, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So sometimes that wasn’t on their schedule of the day to have peanut butter for my dad. So I have sent him some things of containers of peanut butter and I just sent via Amazon. And I figured, if he can’t have it they’ll know. They would give him the Amazon box and they would just open it a little bit and let him open the rest. And they probably didn’t even stay in there and watch him. I mean, it was his gift or whatever they got it. So it was peanut butter and they didn’t [inaudible 00:06:25] to have peanut butter. He gained 20 pounds. He ate so much peanut butter. He gained like 20 pounds. And then they told us it was a choking hazard and they took it away from him.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

But he didn’t have a stroke that gave him that deficit. So I didn’t know it was a choking hazard. So anyway, those are the kind of things. It doesn’t matter sometimes how long you’ve been around the block you’re trying to make your loved one happy. And that was his happy time was eating his peanut butter. And so it was a mess. But anyway, so we quit sending peanut butter obviously. And we sent [inaudible 00:07:04].

Stephanie Gremaux:

Oh wow. The gaining 20 pounds is funny.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

He did. Because he was so skinny. And I mean, I didn’t think about it in the way of way, “God. He’s eating a tub of peanut butter a day.” These weren’t little jars of peanut butter, these were big ol… And I figured it’d last him a few weeks. I wasn’t sending them every five minutes, but apparently the lack of activity during that time and the peanut butter, he just went [inaudible 00:07:35]. So they were like, “Oh my god.” So we had to quit sending peanut butter. So it’s all a learning curve and it’s craziness what you find out is good and not so good.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And the fact that they didn’t know for a long time is weird. I mean, he was hiding it in his room. I didn’t know he was hiding it. I thought he could just have it. He was like, “Yeah, just send me some peanut butter.” Okay. So we did, I didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to have it because we couldn’t go in. So anyway, back to you and the book. I mean, I just feel like everybody’s got a lot to learn no matter what. Tell us what is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Stephanie Gremaux:

Well, I really like helping people regain communication abilities or swallowing abilities that may have been lost from stroke or disease process. I mean, those are two skills that really can deeply impact someone’s quality of life. So helping them to get those back is obviously the main reason I got into this field, but something unexpected is when you impact someone’s life in a way maybe you weren’t anticipating, I remember working with this patient who had Parkinson’s disease. It was mild to moderate, no swallowing deficits or just kind of some soft voice quality. And we were working on that, but his daughter was very involved in his care.

Stephanie Gremaux:

And I remember speaking with her about progress and communication skills and things. And I said something I thought was really minor about hearing aid care. And years later, after the father was discharged, that woman’s mother came to our facility and I was wasn’t working with the mother, but the daughter actually sought me out and thanked me. She remembered me from that one conversation that we had about hearing aids. And I thought it was just something throw away information, but it had impacted her. And she said that it really affected her father’s quality of life and she never forgot me or what I told her.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Wow.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yeah. And that was really unexpected. So to have someone come up to you so many years later and say, “I remember you because you helped me in this way.” And it wasn’t even really the way that I was necessarily targeting the help. So it’s just unexpected how in healthcare, you can really impact people.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Education, just a tip and a good piece of information and education goes a long way. Isn’t that great though that somebody remembered you just for that one thing? It’s such an impactful career to work with seniors and their families because you really do help folks who are struggling so much. They should be enjoying this time of their life. And some of them are unfortunately having a lot of health use and their families are stressed out so good for you. That’s awesome. What a great story.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Thank you. And that was several years ago, and then I never forgot her telling me that. And so that was, I think part of the inspiration for this book, because there’s so many little tid bits that we take for granted just working day in and day out in long term care. And if only the patients and the families knew this information going into it, or first when they get there, it would just help them be able to focus on recovery instead of…

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. Yeah. Communication can be very challenging at a nursing home with [inaudible 00:11:46], and it’s easy to get frustrated with the staff, very easy to get frustrated. And I think you’re right, having a book like yours, knowing what the expectation should be and who to talk to about what issues. I mean, that just is a tremendous amount of help to get people to the right department, the right person in the department and all those different things. Yeah. [inaudible 00:12:14]-

Stephanie Gremaux:

Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Challenge.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I would imagine that in your career there have been organizations or leaders who have really impacted you over time. Who would you like to talk about?

Stephanie Gremaux:

Well, where would we be without our teachers? Right?

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely.

Stephanie Gremaux:

I had a great experience in grad school at University of South Florida, but I really have to shout out to my clinical instructors during my internships. I got to see their passion firsthand for this field. And it really helped fuel my enthusiasm and things they taught me during that time, still stick with me today and their names are Shannon [inaudible 00:13:04] and Laura [inaudible 00:13:07]. And they’re still practicing here in my local area.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Nice. Very nice. I know that they will appreciate that. Yeah. Where would we be with our teachers? Oh my goodness. My nursing instructors are probably like, “Oh my gosh, girl, what are you doing?” But they were so compassionate and so helpful and put up with a lot. And it’s great to have mentors that you can remember for a lifetime like that.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Oh yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So great. All right. How about marketing? I bet you’ve done quite a bit of marketing for your book or you’re about to do some, and this would be maybe part of that, because we’re doing a great interview here about your book, but what have been your thoughts on… I mean, what we talk about usually is folks that own home care agencies and facilities, it’s really hard to network in person right now. Are you in Florida? You’re still in Florida?

Stephanie Gremaux:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So that you guys have been kind of open for a long time. You’ve been Woohoo. Yay. And some states are not. And so it might be a little more challenging in some regards to market, but how has online marketing affected what you’re doing?

Stephanie Gremaux:

Well, as far as my practice, I’ve always worked for companies that have their own marketing departments. So I haven’t really had to market my speech pathology skills personally. But like you said for this book now that is something I am learning how to navigate. And it’s really trying to find your target audience where they are and meet them there. And that’s something that I’m trying to learn. So the book is for sale on Amazon and I do have Amazon ads going, which I think have been helpful, but I am new to this arena. So once again thank you for allowing me to speak on this podcast because I’m hoping that this message will find people that can benefit from the book.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

You will absolutely. Everybody in some regard is going to go through this, but I think Facebook is a great demographic. Instagram is not quite as good, but for adults Facebook gets older by the day, so the demographic that looks at it. We have less younger kids on Facebook and more older folks and middle to older because they’re looking at pictures of each other, their community, their friends, their family. And that’s really what they’re using it for is to interact with friends and family and neighbors. And so that is a great place to do some advertising, but it can also be very expensive. And I would say, “Yeah, if you’re on Amazon and you want to meet people where they are, Amazon’s a great place to do that because they’re obviously going to look for an easy place to find a book like this is going to be Amazon.” And have you thought about do or do you have an audio version?

Stephanie Gremaux:

No, I don’t.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That would be a good idea.

Stephanie Gremaux:

I’m trying to work on an e-book version for Kindle, but the formatting process there is longer. It’s not so simple as just pushing the ebook button and it translating over. So audiobook though is something I haven’t thought about and that’s interesting.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I’ve talked to another author recently. Her friends and family are encouraging her to do an audiobook because you can hire someone to read it for you or you can read it yourself. And I have encouraged her to read it herself. And the reason is if you were to listen to some of our, I guess marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk or Gary V if you listen to his audio books and this is where I kind of learned this, he reads them himself, but he interjects he’ll say, wait a minute. When I wrote this in this book, here’s what I really meant. And that’s not in the written book. So it’s really kind of cool to have the author read it. I know that’s also very time consuming and you have to learn how to do that and submit the files correctly, but it is possible.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I think that’s a great way to… Especially for the vision impaired for them to be able to listen to a book like that. And I also think having a Kindle version is great. I think Amazon has I think in their Kindle, I know it’s not intuitive. It’s not like, “Press the button.” Like you said. But I think that there’s a lot of help out there and a lot of automation that can help with the Kindle version. So I’m rooting for you. I think every version you can make out of it, one chapter at a time is awesome.

Stephanie Gremaux:

I love that audiobook idea. I love the idea of being able to interject a few little thoughts or anecdotes or something, but people listen in their car.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes.

Stephanie Gremaux:

If they’re getting back to work, it’ll be easy to listen to a chapter when you’re on the way to the nursing home to visit your family member, whoever. So I love that idea. I think I’ll look into that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I even listen to stuff like that when I’m cleaning the house, just check my phone into whatever I’m carrying around and I’ll listen to a podcast or a audio book or something while I’m cleaning and it’s a great way to pass the time or at night or whatever. So, yep. I think that would be a awesome idea. So we have two more questions and this one is really important because I think you have a lot to share for families, but also for other senior care providers, what advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Stephanie Gremaux:

I love this question. I worked for a company that inspired us to look for our why and what they meant was, why do you do this? Why are you here? Why are you working in this field? Because just in life, you have a lot of different paths that you can go down. And for some reason, our path brought us to healthcare and after many years working in this profession and especially now with COVID, there’s a lot of burnout and we have to keep reminding ourselves of the big and small reasons. Why are we here? We’re here to help people we’re here to make their lives better and finding your why and reminding yourselves of those constantly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes, yes. And your why is usually sitting right in front of you in the form of someone who needs your help. So it is tough some days to remember that, but you’re right. Knowing why you got into this is really important and reminding yourself because we’ve had some tough, tough times in the last 18 months or so, so getting back into it and hopefully things are… I say that, but who knows. But hopefully things are kind of settling down a little bit, settle down a little bit.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. All right. When you have a win in life or in business, how do you like to celebrate?

Stephanie Gremaux:

Before preparing for this interview, I had never thought about this before. And working in therapy, I am accustomed to helping other people celebrate their wins, pointing out, “Hey, you’ve progressed from a feeding tube and now you’re eating regular food.” Or, “You learned a new communication device.” Or something. And I’ll celebrate with them, point it out to their family members or caregivers or whoever. But for myself, I guess I love to listen to music.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Stephanie Gremaux:

I’ll blast my music and sing along. I like to celebrate with friends and family when I can, but I’m trying to allow myself the time to reflect and be proud of accomplishments and harbor on the positive more than the negative, we tend to harbor negative. So I’m trying to harbor positive.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. I think a lot of us are caregivers by nature and we kind of forget that the stuff that we put out there in the universe is worth celebrating even though we want other people to be celebrating their wins sometimes it’s hard for us to celebrate our own. So yes, singing out loud, I’ve had all kinds of answers from taking a walk on the beach to just a walk in the woods or just reflecting or meditating. I’ve had a hospice physician hold up a bottle of tequila and say, “A shot of this goes a long way.” Wine, a good meal.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So we’ve had lots of different answers over time. That’s supposed to be our fun question. And so I think running around the house, singing out loud to your music is fabulous. Absolutely. Well, I want to thank you for being on the show for telling us all about your book. We’ll make sure your Amazon link and any other information that you have is right with your book. So right with this video so that folks can go there and look at the chapters and get a feel for it and order it, order it for a friend and someone who’s going through this.

Stephanie Gremaux:

Thank you. Yes. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Thank you so much, everyone. Talk to you soon.

Stephanie Gremaux:

All right. Bye. Valerie.

 

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN

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