July 2009

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The BrainWise Program is helping Jefferson County Public Health nurses maximize patient care and improve outcomes for a wide variety of client issues. The public health nurses, in collaboration with Jefferson County Human Services, provide in-home care such as individualized consultation, education and psychosocial support to low income women and their families. The focus is on preventive healthcare, referral to appropriate healthcare providers or services, and assisting clients with choosing sound health-related behaviors. The agencies are looking to BrainWise as the primary intervention for this initiative, which aims to make clients self-sufficient through improvement of life skills, social resources, health habits and child care skills.

When making home visits to a TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Child Welfare client, for example, a visiting nurse can use the 10 Wise Ways to frame the discussion regarding the client’s network of support, wizard or lizard brain choices, red flag warnings, emotions elevator or other BrainWise concepts. According to Rebecca Persing, RN, DNP, “These tools will help the nurses provide adults and children with thinking skills and resources to solve problems and function adaptively in family, school, work, and community contexts.”

Future plans call for expansion of this collaborative effort to include providing resources for nurses to send text messages customized for each client. In addition to reinforcing the practice and use of BrainWise thinking skills, texting is expected to help keep expenses down and maximize nurse contact with clients. Clients’ knowledge of BrainWise skills and confidence in that knowledge will be assessed using an online program called Confidence-Based Learning (CBL). Evaluation of the program will be completed by two educational psychology professors from the University of Northern Colorado who will be using pre-and posttest assessments.

BrainWise founder Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry is optimistic about the future of this effort, and its adaptability to other programs. “If BrainWise thinking skills can be evaluated, and eventually delivered using CBL technology and text message follow up to improve at-risk family issues, this system could be utilized as part of an intervention for similar families and applied to other high-risk behaviors,” Dr. Barry said.