Good News! The Education Quarterly Publication for January, February and March, 2013 is now available online. This brochure includes updated information about the general education programs, certificate courses and webinars for the upcoming quarter. To download the publication, visit our website.

To register, complete the Registration/Invoice form included in the brochure, fax it to MHCA at 207-623-4080, and send the original along with your payment to MHCA at 317 State Street, Augusta, ME 04330; OR register online.

As part of our continued efforts to “Go Green” watch for increased use of email and the web this year as we do our part to use member resources wisely and consider the environment. To update your contact information and/or add someone to our education email list, please forward the name, job title, facility, and email address to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If you have any questions, feel free to contact MHCA at (207) 623-1146. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Rima Daudaraviciene, Cook, Karen Marble, Food Service Director, and Jacob Worden, Food Service Worker II of Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough were this year’s winner of the Frying Pan trophy in MHCA’s third annual LTC Culinary Challenge …cooking for a cause, to benefit the Mike McNeil Scholarship Fund (Fund). The team also won the Best Overall Soup/Chowder Award. On Saturday, October 6th at Southern Maine Community College, the Maine Veterans’ Home team, along with 6 other culinary teams representing member nursing homes and assisted living facilities from around the state, showcased their talent and creativity to help raise over $2500 for the scholarship fund!

Teams consisted of two cooks and one team manager who prepared a three-course meal using pork tenderloin supplied by Sysco. Teams had two hours to complete the task and were judged on a 100-point scale by a team of certified chefs, which included Sysco Corporate Executive Chef Gary Sheldon and Phyllis Flaherty, CEC, CCE, Chef Geoffrey Boardman, CEC, from the Southern Maine Community College, Chef Kendra Stanley, Personnel Chefs Inc, Chef Ralph Coughenour, Foodservice Director, Dartmouth College. While the judges were impressed by all the teams’ efforts, Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough won the competition with the following menu: Soup/Chowder: Beet Soup/Baked Squash Bowl; Entree: Kale baked haddock served with sautéed asparagus and pumpkin risotto, and a spring mix/jicama salad; Dessert: Baked apple-break pudding.

MVH -Scarborough Team received the MMSF Frying Pan Trophy, a $300 gift certificate to Direct Supply, and a grand prize of two continuing education courses donated by the Southern Maine Community College, one in baking and one in fundamental cooking (one day each). Taking second place and a $175 gift certificate to Direct Supply was the Mt. St. Joseph Team of Dusty Mcarthur, Cook, Scott Pearl, Director of Nutritional Service, and Brian Witham, Assistant Chef. The Third place trophy and a $125 gift certificate to Direct Supply went to Seal Rock/Inn at Atlantic Heights Team of Ramunas Daudaravicius, Chef, Bill Stanton, Director of Food & Beverage, David St. Marie, Executive Chef.

In addition to the Best Overall Soup/Chowder won by MVH-Scarborough, Best Overall Entrée award went to the Mt. St. Joseph team, and Best Overall Dessert, went to Fallbrook woods team of Susan Kezal, Director of Dining & Nutrition Services, David Lindall, Cook, and Patrick Montanese, Cook. Every team received a certificate of appreciation and gift bag.

The Culinary Challenge is proudly sponsored by MHCA/MHCA Business Services and our business partner, Sysco Northern New England, with generous contributions from Southern Maine Community College Culinary Arts program, BerryDunn, as well as Sysco manufacturers Pinnacle Food Brokers and Fusion Sales.

We would also like to thank all the participants for making this event a great success. They are:

Maine Veterans’ Home, Machias: Wendy Candelmo, Nutrition Services Director, Jason Cilley, Head Cook, Brian Davis, Head Cook.
Orchard Park & Edgewood Rehab & Living Centers, Farmington: Donna Boyce, Cook, Bridget Kurts, Food Service Director, John Wilbur, Cook
Russell Park Rehabilitation & Living Center, Lewiston: Kirt Leblanc, Head Chef, Tim Shannon, Cook, Robin Tibbetts, Chef

Each week, we will feature a team from the competition until we have showcased all of the talented food service professionals who contributed to the success of this event.
We offer our special thanks to Sysco Executive Chef Gary Sheldon for donating his time to organize the competition. He not only developed the contest rules, he spent considerable time planning, meeting with the teams, securing judges and managing the event onsite.

Since its inception in 2007, the scholarship fund has enabled 42 individuals to pursue their educational goals in long term care. Eligible fields of study include nursing, physical or occupational therapy, speech pathology, social work, activities and food service. We are especially pleased to note that this year’s event was covered by WMTW Channel 8. Click here to see news story and subsequent online photo album at
Maine-Veterans-Home-in-Scarborough-takes-culinary-challenge-crown and

Staff Contact:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Manager of Business & Information Services

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This year, CMS and the American Health Care Association (AHCA) launched a number of new initiatives designed to improve the quality of care for people living in nursing facilities.  MHCA is presenting Reducing Re-hospitalizations and Antipsychotic Drug Use by Effectively Utilizing Quality Improvement Tools and Processes on November 8 at the Augusta Civic Center, which will focus primarily on two of these initiatives, aimed at (1) reducing avoidable inpatient hospitalizations, and (2) safeguarding nursing home residents from unnecessary antipsychotic drug use.  In this session, participants will review the quality initiatives, discuss the evidence base for reducing re-hospitalizations and the use of antipsychotic drug use, explore beliefs and attitudes about these issues, learn about the INTERACT program and tools, develop strategies to apply the quality improvement process to achieve practice changes, plan for the implementation of these practice changes, and more.  This workshop will be a highly interactive day, featuring a series of exercises through which participants will explore and discuss effective strategies for practice change to support positive results. Participants will develop individualized plans for next steps in leading change in their facilities. For more information, please see our Education Quarterly. To register online, click here.

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The truth is: I never get through a Celebrating Excellence Awards program without shedding a few tears.  Indeed, I am sensitive and as my eight-year-old daughter would say, “C’mon Mom, you cry at commercials!” That is also true, but I am genuinely touched by the heroes who work in our member facilities every day. 

 September 13th was no exception. As I watched this year’s winners and listened to what their nominators said about them, I couldn’t help but well up with emotion and awe at their work, commitment, and utter selflessness. Each person who took the stage that day clearly earned every moment of glory but yet they were not boastful.  They were modest and shy; some even looked slightly uncomfortable in the spotlight. Others were proud and trying not to cry.

In my humble opinion, there is an obvious incongruence between what caregivers do and what they receive. I have long believed that those who do so much to enhance the lives of our elderly and disabled residents deserve more than our long term care system has been designed to give.  Industry financial woes aside, I think the reason so many great caregivers stay is because their motivation comes from within and the “payoff” is the difference they make in another human being’s life.

So you see this “business” of caring for the elderly is not “business” at all to our award winners; in fact it’s very personal.  They go to work every day to give it their all and we are honored to celebrate their excellence.  

Visit  our Facebook page to see more about this year’s winners:

Spend a view minutes reading their stories and watch this year’s Celebrating Excellence Awards video on our website:

Let me warn you, you may shed a tear or two…



This is the inscription on the Celebrating Excellence Awards.


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If there is one book on your reading list, let it be Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  It is not a new book, published first in 2007 and again in 2009, and yet it is a must read for those who care for and about anyone living with Alzheimer’s disease.  Without giving away too many poignant details, I will say it is a beautiful, heart wrenching, and completely believable account of a woman’s experience after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  What’s compelling to me about this book is that Alice tells the story; it is written from the viewpoint of the person living with the disease, not a caregiver’s interpretation of the experience. Perhaps this is what makes this work of fiction feel so real. There is much wisdom to be gained from Alice as she describes often being stuck between remembering and forgetting, knowing and not knowing, being afraid or completely oblivious to her state of mind.

I’ll be honest:  I openly wept at parts of this book – even at a public yard sale where more than one passerby looked at me sideways. Again, I’ll be honest:  I didn’t care. It was that moving. For example, in a moment of lucidity, Alice says, “I miss myself.” And her husband says “I miss you too, Ali, so much.” She says, “I never planned to get like this.” He replies, “I know.”

Whether you are new to long term care or a seasoned veteran, I guarantee you will not be disappointed or untouched after reading Still Alice. It reinforces everything you know about those stricken with this disease and may impart something that you didn’t know.  But it is dotted with unmistakable rays of hope for the future that one day, a cure will be found if we continue advocating, researching, and storytelling.  Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more appreciative of what caregivers do, this book comes along!  I am so grateful for the thousands who have chosen to work in long term care and care for the many Alices in our lives.  Post a comment with your email address to be entered into a drawing of a free copy of the book!

With a renewed sense of purpose,


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So, I’m remodeling my kitchen and having a conversation with the contractor who will be installing my new countertops. When the conversation turns to what I do for work, (advocate on behalf of the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities and their residents), this is what I get:
With a scrunched up face and obvious half-step back, “Oh, yeah, I hope I never need a nursing home! I hope I just die in my sleep.”
I want to reply, “Um, well I hope you are struck by lightning on the way home; did you NOT just hear what I do for a living?”
Taking a deep breath and regaining my composure, instead I say, “Gee, that’s too bad you feel that way. When’s the last time you’ve been in a nursing home?”
Not giving him the opportunity to respond, I continued, “You know, most people didn’t think they’d ever need a nursing home either but the fact is they do. As an advocate, I work to make sure my members have the tools they need to do the best job. Like you, they need the right materials, the right employees, proper financial support, etc. It might surprise you to know that our homes generate one of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the country. I’d rather live in a Maine nursing home than some other states that shall remain nameless. Just saying…”
My diatribe was in fact a little longer but you get the gist. I could have gotten really angry and elected to take my business elsewhere, but the fact is, his gut reaction is fairly typical. He apologized if he’d offended me, and I acknowledged rather smugly that he didn’t know any better. I can’t say for sure if I enlightened him but I’d like to think so. I know it can be insulting when people who have no experience, understanding or compassion, judge what you do. While it’s tempting to ask you about the dumbest, insensitive thing about long term care someone has ever said to you, I’d rather know what’s the kindest thing you’ve heard?
With a dramatic eye roll,

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This week, I had the absolute privilege to take my favorite veteran and grandfather, Ken Brown, to a Memorial Day ceremony hosted at the Freeport Community Library.  My grandfather, 90, is a World War II Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge as a member of the 106th Infantry division.  My grandfather was a recent guest on the Conversations with Ed Bonney show, moderated by Bonney and filmed by Freeport Cable TV Director Rick Simard.  The program shares the war time experiences of local veterans. The library hosted a public screening of a compilation of Ed and Rick’s work, following hundreds of hours of interviews with my grandfather, and fellow Freeport residents Arthur Cooper, Martin Bailey, and Ed Fogg.

My grandfather not only fought in the Battle, but was captured by the Germans in December 1944. At the time of capture, he recalls the German army surrounding them and knowing what would ensue. After marching some 25 miles in horrible weather conditions, the Germans crammed my grandfather and his comrades into the so-called “40 and 8” box cars, designed to carry 40 soldiers or 8 horses.  My grandfather will tell you there were many more than 40 soldiers with him that day.

The train took them to Bad-Orb, Germany where they arrived at Stalag IXB prison camp on Christmas Eve, 1944.  Stalag IX B was situated on a hill and it was where he spent the next month of his life. He and other prisoners were then transferred to Stalag IX A for almost another three months.

I don’t feel the need to go into detail about his experiences as a Prisoner of War. I think we all have an understanding of how terrifying and life changing it was for all who endured captivity. But I do want to share that you could have heard a pin drop, and actually saw tears well up in many eyes, as he recalled seeing the American Flag coming up the hillside.

In his own words, my grandfather says, “Finally, on March 30, 1945, we were liberated by the 6th Armored Division.  Just imagine how we felt seeing those jeeps with American Flags waving.  After three months, 22 days and 5 hours, we were finally freed.” 

As I looked at the American Flag in the library, I found myself trying to visualize what that must have looked and felt like to the young men, many of whom thought that liberation day would never come. I realized then it is through the eyes of a veteran that one can truly behold the American Flag and all that it symbolizes. I, for one, will always remember my grandfather when I see Old Glory flying high.

As you mark Memorial Day in your facilities this weekend, I will also think of your residents and all who have served and sacrificed for the very freedom we enjoy today.

With a heart full of respect,


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I believe my grandmother was smiling on us as hundreds of people packed the State House at our 10th annual Remember ME event on April 13th. From the glorious sunshine to the generosity of Maine’s First Lady, Ann LePage, all was right in the world as 36 long term care residents received lifetime achievement awards. Some 300 people gathered to hear the amazing life stories of Maine men and women who blazed trails, built communities and served our countries. If I’m being completely honest, they make me want to be a better person. They inspire me to want to give back to my community, volunteer in my child’s classroom, take five minutes to write a thank you note, always do my best even when “good enough” is tempting. Their ambition, commitment and selflessness are hallmarks of a previous generation, so different from today’s egocentric, “what can you do for me?” cohort.

Looking at the audience in the Hall of Flags, I was most struck by the sheer humility on the faces of this year’s honorees. There were lots of smiles and a few tears too as they accepted their awards. Over the years, residents have questioned what they’ve done to deserve this award. They don’t think they were doing anything extraordinary, just doing their jobs and living their lives. It is precisely this unassuming nature that makes them so worthy of our recognition and respect. If you missed this year’s event, I encourage you to watch our video. It is less than three minutes and I think you will find it time well spent. Please visit

With praise for Maine’s long term care residents,

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Welcome to MHCA’s new blog, or more specifically, MY new blog, named for my source of inspiration and lifetime elderly role model, my dearly departed grandmother, Dorothy, a.k.a. Dot. If you are worried that this space is going to be all about my grandmother’s wisdom all the time, don’t be.  If you are interested in an occasional Dot-infused life lesson, check back periodically and you might find one. But mostly what I intend to write about here is the opposite of what you will read in the MHCA E-News or any other industry news publication. I want to focus more on the heart strings than the purse strings in long term care, knowing that in many ways the two are interdependent. I don’t believe you can be truly successful if you are not truly invested in what you do.  Some have heard me say over the years that my grandmother’s role in my life has made the all the difference.  It is fair to say that while I didn’t grow up aspiring to work in long term care, it is her profound influence that keeps me at it for nearly 20 years now. When I think of the people you care for on a daily basis, I know they are someone’s loved one too and this is what motivates me to be the best advocate I can be, for you and them.  Feel free to share a story about the Dot in your life; I bet you have one!

With full appreciation for what you do,

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