May 6-12 is National Nurses Week. At Aspire, nurses are essential to ensuring neurodiverse children and adults are able to discover their passions, unlock their potential, and thrive.
When someone comes to Aspire for services, nurses are there to help ensure that the right supports are in place for their medical needs. “They pour through the files to make sure that we know them front to back before they even come in the door,” notes, Katie Cyr, senior director of program operations.
In Aspire’s residential services division, direct support professionals (DSPs) and shared living providers are trained and supported by nurses to administer complex medication regimens, understand the diagnoses of the people they support, and recognize myriad medical symptoms. Nurses also teach people to administer their own medications, an important step on the road to independence.
Nurse Tammy Hynds says “We create good, healthy relationships with the people we support, their families, staff, and providers. We provide quality, seamless care as a team.”
Nurses promote wellness for people – from diet and exercise to sleep and hygiene. They also participate in the assessment of behavioral concerns that are related to a person’s health. “Doing those screenings for vision, hearing, and scoliosis is really helpful. There can be a problem that we don’t even know about,” according to ALL Academy principal Lisa Riggi.
Because of the nurses’ extensive knowledge of IDD and the individual needs of the people Aspire supports, brewing medical problems can be caught early. A nurse can recognize the significance of changes that others might miss. “Nurses have a history with the people we support. They can catch stuff very quickly because they know when it’s not baseline for the person,” according to director of adult services, Kate Ohl.
Nurses go the extra mile, whether it’s being on call to provide advice after hours, reaching out to reassure someone who is struggling, or guiding the team through a medical emergency. Nurse Melissa Mayville says, “It’s not just our job, it’s who we are. We take our jobs very seriously.” That dedication is evident in the many roles nurses have at Aspire. “Our nurse is a consultant. She’s a listening ear and someone to bounce ideas off of, but she goes above and beyond. When someone is in the hospital, she’s visiting them and working with the team.” says director of adult services, Jess Primo.
Aspire nurses are great advocates. Sometimes professionals outside the disability field have little training on developmental disabilities. Aspire nurses help them interpret and respond to unique expressions of pain or behavioral changes. “Everyone should have the same opportunities for testing and treatment, regardless of their abilities. Nurses can become the liaison with other medical professionals to make sure the person gets what they need,” says Tammy.
Nurses are also a significant resource for parents who want a medical perspective from someone who sees their loved one regularly. “There’s a sense of comfort for the family,” says Kate, and Lisa agrees, “Parents will reach out to them for advice.”
Aspire salutes nurses everywhere. “We can’t say enough about the good work that nurses do. We are grateful for the essential role that nurses play in helping people thrive,” says Lou Giramma, CEO.