Meet David “DJ” Lersch, COTA Rehab Director, Healthpro Heritage
David “DJ” Lersch smiling for the camera!
Director D.J. Lersch has been serving the residents at The Selfhelp Home for over 3.5 years. His passion for caring for the aging population is rooted from memories and experiences with his grandparents. As Director of the Outpatient Therapy Clinic, D.J. has expanded our programs and the clinic has enjoyed tremendous growth in just one short year!
“What I enjoy most about Selfhelp is the shared commitment to always provide the highest quality of care to our patients, and the ongoing collaboration with the interdisciplinary teams.”
– David “DJ” Lersch, COTA
Our CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) provides an outstanding, highly rated continuity of care offering therapy services for all levels from Independent Living to Assisted Living skilled and Outpatient. The Selfhelp Home’s Outpatient Therapy Clinic works with patients on both ends of the spectrum. For example, there are some patients that do really well in the rehabilitation program and are able to return to their independent living at home. While others may be more challenged with the natural aging process and age-related diseases (in addition to any injuries they may have incurred), thus they have a different measure of success and require a custom level of ongoing care. Our clinic’s goal is to do everything we can to assist patients in reaching their maximum potential of health. Teaching the patient’s family how to better help their loved one is very important to our team, through education, planning next steps and specific exercises to do together.
Patients require the best environment possible to succeed with their recovery from illness, surgery or an accident. The latest Medicare research shows that implementing a more aggressive therapy yields quicker results. This approach involves a higher frequency of therapy for a shorter duration, for example 5-7 days per week for 30 minutes, rather than only 3-4 days per week for 1 hour. From day one, we introduce patients to what a safe discharge home would look like so they can prepare for what to expect. Selfhelp’s team of highly skilled and experienced physical therapists conduct evaluations, record daily notes on activities and progress, and then meet to discuss every case in detail. Skill justification and progress notes are extremely important to Medicare, as well as the patient’s well-being. Utilizing a collaborative therapy approach increases the success rate of each patient. We design a personalized program specific to the individual, with the goal of helping them graduate therapy and clear them to return home!
The Selfhelp Home has earned a 5 star rating, ranking our CCRC as one of the top tier skilled nursing facilities in Chicago. Since the clinic has opened, D.J. has nearly doubled our staff to ensure that we are able to offer multiple levels of care and expand the Outpatient Therapy Clinic’s programs. Today, we are proud to have the trusted expertise of physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists on hand! Their collaborative therapy approach has D.J. check in with Benna Kessler, LCSW, (Selfhelp’s Director of Social Services) frequently to find ways to remove any barriers, monitor the patients’ progress and observe any medical changes. Regarding the long-term care patients, clinical rounds are implemented via a monthly checklist to accurately determine how well someone is doing with their pain management, strength, and what can be improved. Medicare collaborates with the onsite team so everyone is on the same page every step of the way.
Assisted Living and Independent Living Programs Designed for Home Health and Beyond
A unique benefit of Selfhelp’s Outpatient Therapy Clinic is that residents are able to enjoy working with the same therapists they know and trust during every stage of their therapy, thus increasing their success rate. Home Health Therapy Service is a new addition to our clinic’s offerings. If someone is truly home-bound, our therapists are sent directly to the patient’s home for care, comfort and ease to receive treatment. Another bonus: Our entire staff continuously serve as the “eyes and ears” for the residents wherever they might be in the home. D.J. has a detailed therapy checklist for our staff to take note of anything out of the ordinary they may observe. We use this information to speak with nurses and family members to see if an evaluation is appropriate because a resident’s needs may change overtime, for example a staff member may notice that a resident is displaying mobility issues in the dining room. We offer residents and their families compassionate, high quality, long-term Skilled Nursing care for all levels of support.
Home assessments are also a unique service we offer. Selfhelp’s top priority is for patients to have a safe transition home. A thorough discharge checklist helps us assess what the patient’s home environment is like and what would be needed to give them a safer transition and ongoing quality of life. If they live within 15 minutes of The Selfhelp Home, one of our therapists will go out with the patient to their home and evaluate the safety of the environment. For some, this is quite the reality check – especially if they’ve been living on their own for a long time. For others, they might just need certain equipment to improve their personal safety. Then there are the cases where it’s decided that living alone is no longer their best, safest option. If something is not on the approved Medicare list, we do our best to find other ways to guide the patients and families in getting the resources they need.
“I would recommend this place to anyone! In my short time here, I’ve already made progress with the rehab exercises, the food is great, and their staff is so patient and they care about everyone here.” – Fred (Short-Term Rehab)
Way to go Fred! Fun fact: Fred is a proud Vietnam Veteran! His wife Terri is also at Selfhelp recovering in our Outpatient Therapy Clinic for her shoulder injury. They are both receiving care, making progress at the same time, and are able to check in with each other – how awesome is that?
Creating the ideal outpatient experience is most successful when doctors, hospitals and families choose the best facility for their loved one’s needs. For example, after a surgery or serious injury, a short-term rehab stay is recommended.
A few of our areas of specialty include (but not limited to):
- Orthopedic Rehabilitation
- Cardiac Rehabilitation
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Neurological Rehabilitation
- General Medical Rehabilitation
Once patients have reached their goals of standing up, moving around and walking with minimal assistance, our Outpatient Therapy Clinic is the perfect setting to fine tune their rehabilitation! Continuing with this stage of therapy means that patients are physically able to get to the clinic and ready for services such as e-stim, pain management, mobilization of the injured or surgical body part, and working on flexion.
When it’s time to decide the next best step for your loved one, our staff will guide your family from a holistic approach. We help assess how safe their home or apartment is for the individual. Perhaps their cognition isn’t what it used to be for living alone, however they are able to live independently at The Selfhelp Home. A few considerations are: the ability to dress oneself, use the bathroom, get up and down from a chair or bed independently. We always have many caring, compassionate CNA’s ready to assist residents with anything they need at any time. Another option is our Assisted Living program where residents can continue to lead an active lifestyle. Selfhelp’s Assisted Living is run by an experienced Nurse Manager and a team of personal aides who provide the care your loved ones need in their very own apartment. We take an active approach to addressing resident healthcare needs by maintaining ongoing communication with each resident’s physician. This level of commitment to our residents has earned us a solid reputation for quality care throughout the Chicagoland area!
Action Shot: One of our Skilled Nurses working with a resident!
Choosing the most appropriate CCRC is critical as these facilities vary in levels of care. D.J. views The Selfhelp Home as a unique retirement community that provides extraordinary care, incredible socialization (great for maintaining cognition skills) and provides a variety of activities to keep residents moving as much as possible.
The Outpatient Therapy Clinic is a collaboration of mutual respect, genuine care, and experienced therapists committed to safe transitions and progress for all of our patients. D.J. believes Selfhelp is an “investment in the quality of life.” Throughout the entire facility, there is an overwhelming sense of joy, care, and togetherness for the older community.
Meet Ellen Heimann Short-Term Rehab Patient Who Chose to Become a Resident!
Ellen enjoying a visit from The Treehouse Humane Society feline friends!
Jewelry Making class is so much fun!
Ellen formerly lived at Lincolnwood Place for over 10 years. In June 2019, she had a bad fall which brought her to Northshore Skokie Hospital. After a Short-Term rehab stay at Selfhelp, Ellen’s daughter (who is an occupational therapist) researched what would be the best action plan for her mom’s recovery. The Selfhelp Home ranked higher than most other choices in the Chicago area. Ellen’s cousin, Heddy (previously served as Selfhelp’s Director for 12 years) also reinforced the idea that Selfhelp’s physical therapy program is excellent and would provide her with a complete healing. The in-patient rehab facility on the 6th floor designed an individualized two week program for Ellen. Ellen worked hard to recover from her injuries, in fact the physical and occupational therapists worked with Ellen twice a day for two weeks. She said that the dedication and attentiveness of the staff was also what helped her heal. She underwent balance and mobility tests in order to be released from the in-patient program to the Outpatient Therapy Clinic.
Upon graduating therapy, her next step was to decide where she would reside. Ellen wanted to the opportunity to continue with Selfhelp’s outpatient program as needed. Her daughters were so impressed with the level of care their mom received that living on-site was a very logical decision. Ellen loves her beautiful newly remodeled apartment! She quickly immersed herself in our active community with daily exercise classes (to improve her balance and mobility), Tai Chi, yoga, Sunday concerts and of course movie nights! Ellen said, “Everyone has been very welcoming here at The Selfhelp Home.” As the High Holidays approach, she is looking forward to celebrating the Jewish New Year with her new friends!
Meet Harold Bergen In-Patient Rehabilitation Transitioned to Independent Living!
Hal and his wife Sharon, what a wonderful couple.
Hal enjoying another active day at the home!
Harold (otherwise known as Hal) was brought to The Selfhelp Home after his hospital stay at Northwestern Hospital due to a compression fracture. He fell many times 6-8 weeks ago. On the day that he was discharged from the hospital, his wife Sharon knew that Hal required an in-patient treatment program. After connecting with Bridget (a senior care specialist at the hospital), it was logic and pure luck that brought Hal to our facility! Bridget works at Northwestern Hospital and highly recommended The Selfhelp Home. After spending one month of in-patient rehab on the 6th floor, our team knew that he wasn’t ready to go home quite yet. Hal and Sharon are extremely happy with the customized program and treatment that Hal has received. Sharon is very impressed that D.J. speaks with her regularly to provide updates on Hal’s progress, as well as making recommendations for getting their home ready for his return. While unable to go home yet, Hal has transitioned to an Independent Living apartment where it may take him 3-4 months to fully recover.
Hal works hard at his daily therapy at the Outpatient Therapy Clinic on the first floor. All of our therapists pay close attention to the small details related to a patient’s healing. The entire team is very proactive and accommodating. Hal and his wife are very pleased with the continuity of care that he is receiving. His favorite amenities include enjoying the creative, nutritious meals and listening to the educational lectures. Sharon said, “I’m a tough critic and I have to say I’ve been greatly impressed by the level of care and concern from everyone at Selfhelp”. She has seen a tremendous improvement in her husband. While choosing Selfhelp wasn’t truly planned, they are both grateful to have ended up at our facility and have a sense that this was b’sheret…an inevitable path to Hal’s healing.