Mental healthcare providers for the elderly expressed anger over an apparent snub of seniors’ mental health services in a proposed new federal behavioral health plan. Adding insult to injury, they believe, is what they see as a narrow comment period.

“Frankly, this is an outrage,” Pat Latham Bach, Psy.D., RN, told McKnight’s. Bach is the president of Psychologists in Long Term Care, a network of psychologists and other professionals focused on maintaining high-quality mental health services in senior living. “Older adults have once again been marginalized and forgotten, as they too have significant need for mental health services.”

Bach said that declines in mental health among older adults are significant, given age-related changes, mood disorders, functional impairment, medical illnesses, social isolation and other factors. Depression rates among long-term care residents are estimated in the 22% to 48% range, while those with thoughts of suicide range from 11% to 43%, Bach noted.

Stressed caregivers

A lack of necessary authority and struggles with management are among multiple factors contributing to nurses’ high levels of stress, according to recently released survey results. 

Out of more than 3,300 respondents, 75% reported that they do not have the desired level of authority to do their job well. About half said they “sometimes” have the needed authority. The survey was administered in May by the Vicki Milazzo Institute, which trains legal nurse consultants.

Nearly 90% of respondents said apathetic superiors and inadequate support staff hamper them. Lack of concern, favoritism, lack of current clinical information, poor communication skills and unrealistic expectations were among the management issues described by participating nurses.

Poor eating and sleeping habits linked to long shifts and struggles to maintain work-life balance also are common challenges nurses face, based on the survey results.

Body hidden?

A nurse at an assisted living facility in Georgia has been charged with concealing a body that was buried on the property, according to local news reports.

Police acting on a tip went to Rosewood Manor in Nicholls and questioned nurse Diana Marie Malphus Jacobs, officials said. She told them someone had been buried in a shed, and the body was recovered.

Investigators believed the body is that of a former Rosewood resident but were awaiting confirmation from an autopsy, local ABC and NBC affiliate WALB reported. Authorities still were trying to determine the cause of death and who was involved in the burial.

Soap warning

Experts advise healthcare facilities to avoid a “heavily marketed” soap in recent hand hygiene guidelines. 

Triclosan antibacterial soaps have proved to be less safe and effective than recommended products such as chlorhexidine soap and alcohol-based hand rub, according to recommendations from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and Infectious Diseases Society of America. Triclosan is often added to antibacterial soaps and body washes to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. 

However, research has shown an increased risk of contamination and resistance with the use of triclosan-containing soaps. Past studies have found significant reductions in nosocomial infections and multidrug-resistant organisms when switching from using triclosan soaps to ABHR, the researchers noted.

“In the absence of clear evidence suggesting superior effectiveness in healthcare settings, combined with risks of resistance and contamination, use of triclosan-containing soaps in healthcare settings for hand hygiene should be avoided,” the researchers wrote. 

Katherine Ellingson, Ph.D., and Janet P. Haas, Ph.D., RN, CIC, are the co-lead authors of “Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections through Hand Hygiene,” which appeared in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Drug halts Alzheimer’s

An arthritis drug stopped the deterioration of cognitive functions and activities of daily living capabilities in Alzheimer’s patients in a small trial, researchers from the University of Southampton in England recently announced.