I Support Nursing Home Safe Staffing!

From Better Care Now: Complete Post through this link…

Right now in the United States, nursing home residents are not getting the quality, dignified care they deserve. Nursing homes are understaffed, and workers are being underpaid and burning out. Those workers are leaving the profession for better opportunities elsewhere, which only adds to the poor staffing.

President Biden has promised to establish a strong national nursing home staffing standard. Now it’s up to us to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) follows through. We need your help to make sure our message to HHS is loud and clear.

If you are a nursing home worker, have lived in a nursing home, know a loved one who has or want to improve the state of care in our country, please share your story.

7 disability advocates talk about accessibility and ableism outdoors

By Nicole Segnini: Complete Post through this link…

For many, experiencing the outdoors has more to do with accessibility and ableism, rather than “ability”.

When we talk about outdoor adventures, we usually envision breathtaking landscapes, thrilling hikes, or serene lakes. But for people with disabilities, accessing and enjoying the wonders of nature can be a real struggle.  

In the United States alone, more than one in four adults have some form of disability, with Black and Indigenous people having higher rates of disability. Disabilities can range from mobility differences to neurodivergence. It’s important to recognize that people with disabilities are a diverse group with a wide range of needs, and ensuring access to the outdoors and welcoming spaces remains an ongoing challenge for many.

Some of the obstacles facing people with disabilities: uneven terrain, steep inclines, a lack of ramps and handrails, narrow pathways that aren’t wheelchair-friendly, absence of closed captioning on video exhibits and maps without tactile or audio features. While federal agencies are making efforts to address some of these issues, there is much work to be done in improving access to all types of parks and public lands.

Aside from physical obstacles, ableism also plays a significant role in making many feel unwelcome in outdoor spaces. These experiences arise from society’s narrow definition of capability and the absence of inclusive practices in outdoor recreation. People with disabilities are also often left out of conversations regarding climate and environmental justice, resulting in inaccessible systems and policies. In recent years, online communities and organizations like Disabled HikersUnlikely HikersWildability and Disabled & Outdoors have emerged to challenge this status quo.  

We spoke with seven people involved in this advocacy work about their connections to the outdoors, how they find joy in nature and their fight for a more inclusive outdoors and better access to parks and public lands.  

Neuroarchitecture Comes to Hospitals in Recognition of Its Effects on Patients

By Dr. Patricia Farrell: Complete Post through this link…

ngd-In the late 50s or early 60s, a psychiatrist took a lot of mescaline and then moved into a state institution for mental illness. He said that the worst thing about it was that he could never find his bed, even if he only walked 30 or 40 feet from it. This was because there were absolutely no personal distingushing aspects to any bed in the institution. He was treated well by the patients, less so by the staff…

Hospitals have no need to be bland, sterile environments that fail to take advantage of new technology to improve patients’ care and emotional health.

The layout and construction of hospital rooms have a significant impact on how well patients receive medical attention and feel emotionally. This insight has led to a shift in hospital design that incorporates neuroarchitecture concepts. The goal of neuroarchitecture, a discipline that merges neuroscience and architecture, is to design spaces that have a positive influence on people’s cognition, feelings, and general well-being. Architects are planning “buildings based on the emotions, healing, and happiness of the user.” The considerable impact of neuroarchitecture in healthcare settings has been discussed in several papers, which highlight the value of thoughtful design in enhancing patient care and emotional well-being.

The idea to recreate traditional hospital design in a way that has a greater impact on the patient’s emotional life rather than simply the medical procedures was first championed by Jonas Salk after his visits to a hospital in Italy. While there, he noticed his changed feelings in terms of more creativity and inspiration, and he used this new change when he planned to build the Salk Institute in California. Design details included natural lighting, the use of color, vegetation, and the shapes of the building. These elements are being utilized by companies such as NAC ArchitectureNBBJPerkins & Will, the Brazilian Academy of Neuroscience & Architecture, and the Center for the Built Environment in California.

2023 Employment Success Stories

From MIDDC: Complete Post through this link…

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of all workers with disabilities.

During NDEAM, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council will be sharing stories where people with disabilities successfully obtained competitive-integrated employment (CIE).

CIE is defined as work that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis for which an individual is:

  • Compensated at or above minimum wage and comparable to the customary rate paid by the employer to employees without disabilities performing similar duties and with similar training and experience;
  • Receiving the same level of benefits provided to other employees without disabilities in similar positions;
  • At a location where the employee interacts with other individuals without disabilities; and
  • Presented opportunities for advancement similar to other employees without disabilities in similar positions.

If you have experience with CIE, and you would like to participate, please complete the questions below. If you are selected, we will contact you before sharing your employment story on our website and Facebook page.

If you prefer to complete this survey over the phone, please send an email to ChapmanT5@michigan.gov to schedule a phone interview.

Improving mental health by training the suppression of unwanted thoughts

By ZULKAYDA MAMAT AND MICHAEL C. ANDERSON: Complete Post through this link…


Anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and depression markedly increased worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. People with these conditions experience distressing intrusive thoughts, yet conventional therapies often urge them to avoid suppressing their thoughts because intrusions might rebound in intensity and frequency, worsening the disorders. In contrast, we hypothesized that training thought suppression would improve mental health. One hundred and twenty adults from 16 countries underwent 3 days of online training to suppress either fearful or neutral thoughts. No paradoxical increases in fears occurred. Instead, suppression reduced memory for suppressed fears and rendered them less vivid and anxiety provoking. After training, participants reported less anxiety, negative affect, and depression with the latter benefit persisting at 3 months. Participants high in trait anxiety and pandemic-related posttraumatic stress gained the largest and most durable mental health benefits. These findings challenge century-old wisdom that suppressing thoughts is maladaptive, offering an accessible approach to improving mental health.

4 Misconceptions About Pulmonary Hypertension I Want to Debunk

By Serena Lawrence: Complete Post through this link…

When I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, I learned that it was a rare disease. I had never heard of pulmonary hypertension before my diagnosis, and I learned that none of the people in my life knew about the disease either.

For those who might want, or need, to know, here are some points to keep in mind:

1. Pulmonary hypertension is different from asthma.

A few of my friends tried to sympathize with me when I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension by saying, “I understand how you feel. I have asthma.”

I’ve had asthma attacks, to the point where I was hospitalized for a week. From my experience, asthma and pulmonary hypertension are very different diseases, even though they both cause breathing problems.

I am not trying to downplay the severity of asthma. Asthma can be a very dangerous disease, but generally, in my experience it has been a manageable disease.

2. My lifestyle and diet didn’t cause pulmonary hypertension.

Most people know what regular hypertension is. Most people do not know what pulmonary hypertension is, and how it differs from regular hypertension.

I found that after diagnosis, many people thought I had done something “wrong” to cause my pulmonary hypertension.

Some thought my diet must have been bad, others asked if I smoked. (I never smoked a day in my life and was a vegetarian who tried to eat mostly healthy foods when I was diagnosed.)

And More…

Soundscape, and the way I use it

From NCBI: Complete Post through this link…

After last week’s exciting announcement about the new Soundscape Community app from NCBI IA labs and its partners, we are going to discover some use cases for the app and the different ways some people use it.

If you have not heard of Soundscape, it is an app you can download on your iPhone that helps you explore and learn your surroundings using 3D spatial sound. It calls out streets and intersections and you can create Markers and you can even follow an audio beacon for navigation to a destination.

Personally, the way I use it is strictly as a Points of interest finder or if you prefer to describe it as finding out what places I am passing as I walk by them. I use a pair of AirPods Pro in transparency mode, this allows outside sounds into the airpods for safety while listening to announcements from the Soundscape Community app.

In my small town, I rarely use it because I know it so well but when I go to a bigger town or city, I like to know what I am passing by. So, if I am in Kilkenny or Dublin City, I will turn it on and listen, shops and points of interest will be called out. The ones on my left will be announced in my left ear and you might have guessed the ones on my right are announced in my right ear. This gives me a great sense of awareness of what’s around me and it is also great for letting me know when I am passing little service roads and intersections.

Soundscape also has a feature called an Audio Beacon which you can attach to a specific location nearby and walk to it. The beacon makes a changing sound as you walk to the destination. You can also make this sound give you haptic feedback if you prefer. Some people love this type of guidance.

The PACT Act and your VA benefits

From USDVA: Complete Post through this link…

The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances.

The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411 (TTY: 711). And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.

Think DIFFERENTLY Initiative Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Students With Disabilities Access Resources to Succeed in School

From Molinaro Website: Complete Post through this link…

U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19) today introduced the Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act. This bipartisan bill helps parents of children with disabilities advocate for the resources their child needs to succeed in school. It builds on Rep. Molinaro’s successful ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ initiative. Rep. Molinaro introduced this bipartisan bill alongside U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY-04), and Mike Lawler (R-NY-17).

In an annual IEP meeting, school staff and parents of a child with a disability meet to develop an educational plan for the student. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, parents have the right to bring a third-party advocate, such as a therapist, lawyer, or knowledgeable family member, to these meetings. However, most parents are not aware of this right.

The Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act requires K-12 schools to inform parents of their right to bring an advocate to individualized education program (IEP) meetings.

Scientists Discover “Startling” Levels of Hidden Mental Health Symptoms Among Autoimmune Disease Patients

From University of Cambridge: Complete Post through this link…

Experts urge immediate mental health assistance for patients with autoimmune diseases.

Over 50% of patients with autoimmune disorders suffer from mental health issues like depression or anxiety. However, most of these patients are seldom, if ever, questioned about these symptoms in clinical settings, according to recent research from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.

A recent study published in the journal Rheumatology indicates that a significant portion of these patients infrequently or never disclose their mental health concerns to medical professionals. Additionally, the spectrum of potential mental and neurological symptoms is broader than previously thought.

The 30 symptoms that the team asked about included fatigue, hallucinations, anxiety, and depression. Among the patients in the study, experience of most of these symptoms was very widespread.

55% of SARD patients were experiencing depression, 57% experiencing anxiety, 89% had experienced severe fatigue and 70% had experienced cognitive dysfunction, for example. The overall prevalence of symptoms was significantly higher than previously thought, and much higher than in a control group of healthy volunteers.

The mental health symptoms described by patients contrasted strongly with clinician estimates. For example, three times as many lupus patients reported experiencing suicidal thoughts compared to the estimate by clinicians (47% versus 15%). Clinicians were often surprised and concerned by the frequency and wide range of symptoms that patients reported to the researchers.

Some clinicians were much more focused on joint symptoms over mental health symptoms as they held the opinion that SARDs do not commonly affect the brain.