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Hens Bring Love & Joy


Last Fall we welcomed two new family members into our community at Crestwood Treatment Center in Fremont. These individuals became instant local celebrities with their inquisitive demeanors, gentle dispositions, and feathered feet. Our new family members are two hens that have provided our residents and staff with the opportunity to deliver nurturing care, revisit childhood memories, and stimulate cognition, as well as being a source of therapeutic amusement.

Our residents consist of men and women who have had brain injuries, as well as a combination of psychiatric and dementia-related behaviors. Many have resided here for many years, supported by the structure, consistency and kindness of our environment. Our staff’s primary goal in developing the Hen Program was to promote a sense of well-being and self-worth for our residents, that by caring for an animal, offers an opportunity for companionship and a calming and emotionally regulating experience. By promoting participation in our Hen Program, we hoped to educate our residents and minimize a sense of boredom and isolation.

Our Hen Program officially started months before the arrival of the hens themselves as a truly interdisciplinary collaboration between our Administrator, Lilian Fong, our Rehab Staff/Occupational Therapists, Maintenance staff, and Program staff. A large enclosure was constructed in our Zen Garden, with a smaller henhouse inside; both are able to be locked to protect the hens. Food, wood shavings, and hay, along with storage containers, were purchased from a local feed store.

When our hens arrived, residents submitted ideas for names, which were then voted on by everyone and the winning names were Buddy and Gismo. Residents then got to know each hen’s distinct personality traits, favorite foods, and daily routines. Residents are an integral part of each hen’s care and wellbeing.

“We make sure the chickens know they’re loved, safe, and welcome here,” said Patti, one of the residents. The chicken coop has now become a favorite destination for socializing, restorative ambulation programs, 1:1 meetings, gardening groups, and the official Chicken Welfare Committee. Another resident, Gloria, observed, “Buddy and Gismo have potential. They help us feel good when we go outside by playing together and taking care of each other.”


Our Chicken Welfare Committee (CWC) consists of a group of 6-10 residents who meet weekly to discuss and make decisions about Buddy’s and Gismo’s health, as well as to ask questions and research answers to better understand these animals’ behavior and preferences. Each meeting begins with an egg count, overview of each hen’s health, and any significant changes in their routines/behaviors during the past week. The group then delves into activities such as cage beautification projects, scientific articles about the anatomy/cognition/evolution of chickens, or group discussion and personal anecdotes about chickens. The CWC has also led to improving our hens’ wellbeing by adding a dust bath to their enclosure, discovering a favorite treat (freeze-dried mealworms), and providing companionship.

Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of the CWC was the celebration of Gismo’s and Buddy’s 1st birthday party in February. The residents spent time making a celebratory banner and birdseed birthday cakes, then converged in the Zen Garden to prepare a fruit salad and enjoy the party. This experience was immensely meaningful for the residents, who continue to talk about it.

Residents are not the only ones who benefit from our chickens. Our staff, many of whom grew up in rural areas, have expressed delight, concern, and nostalgia regarding our hens. Staff is invited to take home the eggs and often compete playfully to get to the eggs first. One CNA reported that she made a quiche with our eggs and brought it to share with her co-workers. Rehab staff often elect to have their meetings outside in the garden to enjoy the calming effects of nature on their overall wellness. The hens have provided a warm and fun meeting place for residents and staff to relate to each other and share experiences. Cortney, another resident, remarked, “The chickens are role models for us; they teach us about companionship and how to interact with each other.”

Buddy’s and Gismo’s presence here at Crestwood Treatment Center has benefitted our entire community immeasurably. The hens are thriving under the dedication and care provided by our residents and staff, and the humans are thriving through the provision of that care. Our Hen Program embodies our Crestwood values and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Contributed by:
Amanda Lord
Occupational Therapist Crestwood Treatment Center, Fremont

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An Innovative Neurobehavioral Rehabilitation Approach


National Award Recognizing Dr. Gordon Muir Giles’ Innovative Neurobehavioral Rehabilitation Approach at Crestwood.

Crestwood Behavioral Health’s own Dr. Gordon Muir Giles, Director of Neurobehavioral Services at Crestwood Treatment Center in Fremont and Idylwood Care Center, was awarded the most prestigious honor related to clinical practice in the occupational therapy profession, the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award. This award was made in recognition of his “innovating the clinical practice of cognitive neurorehabilitation” through his groundbreaking work with clients who have severe neurological impair- ments.

Dr. Giles was presented with the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award by the Ameri- can Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) at its 2017 Annual Conference and Centennial Celebration on April 1st in Philadelphia. The Eleanor Clark Slagle Lecture- ship Award was named after a pioneer of the occupational therapy profession, and recog-nizes achievements in research, education, and clinical practice that make substantial and lasting contributions to the occupational therapy profession’s body of knowledge.

This award recognizes Dr. Giles’ efforts to improve the lives of Crestwood’s clients through innovative clinical practices, including his relational neurobehavioral approach to neurorehabilitation. This non-aversive method, which has been described as “relentless kindness,” assists clients with severe behavioral and emotional problems by empowering them through person-centered care and building positive relationships with them, rather than relying on confrontation, seclusion, or restraints. Dr. Giles uses this compassionate approach to treat clients whose neurological impairments have caused many of them to fail in other treatment settings due to difficult-to-manage behaviors. An example of this compassionate approach is being used with a client at Crestwood Treatment Center, Fremont who has had post-severe Trauma Brain Injury for 23 years. This client believes that he is a billionaire and that people are stealing his money. He would joke to the staff that they are stealing from him and if they would joke back, he would become very upset. To help deescalate this behavior, the staff now meet with him daily to review any areas of concern, assist him with solving any perceived problems, review his finances with him weekly and have him sign-off on any expenditures. Additionally, the staff responds to any of his questions about money by stating that taking money from him is unlawful and that if they did steal from him, they would go to jail. This increased focus on interpersonal factors and therapeutic relationships has made an amazing difference in this client’s life by helping to reduce his anxiety, stress, and negative attributional bias.

“This is the greatest honor of my professional life,” said Dr. Giles, who has written books and articles on the subject of neurorehabilitation. “It will absolutely raise the profile of our work at Crestwood and our innovative approaches to the practice of neurobehavioral rehabilitation.”

Karen Scott, Program Director at Crestwood Treatment Center, Fremont said, “The positive impact Dr. Giles has made with both his clients and colleagues is immeasurable. He is a tireless advocate for persons with neurobehavioral differences.”

As part of winning the Slagle Award, Dr. Giles will deliver an AOTA lecture in 2018 that will discuss how best to meet the needs of clients with neurobehavioral disability in a changing healthcare environment.

Contributed by:
Karen Scott, Program Director Crestwood Treatment Center, Fremont

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Celebrating Wellness


Crestwood Treatment Center’s Dream Team Celebrating Wellness

“Health is wellness, health is power,” declared a resident at Crestwood Treatment Center in Fremont.  This powerful statement came as a result of the facility’s first Wellness Fair that was held on March 18, 2015.  In preparation for the Wellness Fair, a few small groups of residents known as the “Dream Team” spent three months exploring with staff members different wellness topics related to stress management, both through research and experiential activities.  These small groups met once a week to investigate each wellness topic and prepare a related presentation.  After three months of creative collaboration, they selected the topics of Aromatherapy, Exercise, Music Appreciation, Guided Imagery, and Assertive Communication to feature at their Wellness Fair.

The Dream Team residents then prepared and distributed invitations to facility residents and staff, and announcement banners were hung throughout the facility.  The conference room and adjoining outdoor Zen Garden were transformed into a presentation hall, with five separate stations, one for each wellness topic.  The Wellness Fair kicked off on a beautiful day with the Zen Garden fountain bubbling and relaxing music playing.  Seats were available in the garden for attendees to reflect quietly and/or relax together.  Residents and staff were invited to make their way throughout the fair, stopping at each booth to connect with their Dream Team hosts.  Pairs of Dream Team members handed out informational packets and discussed their topic of wellness with participants, and invited them to join them in their wellness activity.  One resident remarked, “I was able to get a lot of information proving that music really does relieve stress.  It is my favorite way to take the stress away.  Music even relieves stress during dental procedures!”  Refreshments were also served and participants were invited to share hummus, cucumber toast, a fresh fruit salad, and lemon mint water as they further relaxed in the Zen Garden.

The education, exchange of wellness information and the entire experience was very empowering for Dream Team members and well received by all who participated.  “The Wellness Fair was a complete success.  It was so much fun and informative for everyone.  Participating residents were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their respective topics.  They were able to communicate and explain the importance on how to live a healthy lifestyle.  The visitors who attended the Fair were all impressed with the way the booths were set up and organized by staff and residents,” said Luis de Vera, Assistant Director of Nursing

The facility is still buzzing about the Wellness Fair and Dream Team members are eager to start preparing for next year’s event. They have big plans to expand the fair and possibly invite other Crestwood facilities to share in the experience.

Lillian Fong, Program Administrator, remarked, “I am so impressed with our residents’ enthusiasm and “can do” attitude. Their confidence was evident that day for all to see.”

Contributed by:

Karen Scott, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist
Crestwood Treatment Center