August is National Wellness Month, a time to focus on self-care, health and wellbeing. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in work, caregiving and other responsibilities while neglecting our own mental and physical health. However, taking care of ourselves is crucial for maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life. Easterseals UCP (ESUCP) values whole person care which considers physical, mental, behavioral and social wellness when developing effective care plans. We wanted to learn more so we talked to two of our own ESUCP nurses. Whether you are just starting your wellness journey or looking for new ways to enhance your current routine, this story is for you. Let’s dive in!
What is your name and job title?
Ajay (pictured left): My name is Ajay Patel, PMHNP-BC. I’m a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, which allows me to diagnose, assess and prescribe medication. I’ve been with ESUCP for 4 years and find my work incredibly rewarding.
Jean (pictured right): My name is Jean Ellis, RN and I’m a registered nurse with the Individual and Community Services (ICS) team. I’ve been with ESUCP for 5 years now and it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
What program do you work with?
Ajay: I work with the mental health team and provide leadership, guidance and collaborative support to the Assertive Treatment team 2 days a week. On the other days, I’m providing outpatient treatment. The outcomes of each case are as unique and individual as the people we support. My job requires active listening, rapport and understanding what’s important to the individual. Lifestyle wellness and physical health are woven into the tailored plan created for each person.
Jean: I am a support beam for ICS. I cover 6 locations with different teams in Eastern North Carolina. People often think an ICS nurse only teaches classes or facilitates trainings but we actually provide support and a team approach to coordinating care plans with the individuals we support. I pull everything together with the supervisor and physicians, gather consents and coordinate medical orders with the guardian, parent or individual. I do telehealth and in-person check-ups. For those who need medication management, I recommend treatment options so they can live their best life.
What is whole person care? How does it impact your work?
Ajay: It’s about learning each person’s perspective in order to develop the right treatment plan. To be effective, we have to understand the person’s viewpoint in order to keep moving forward. Mental health is personal and people come with stigmas and negative experiences about it. Whole person care makes people feel safe, respected and addresses individual treatment without labels.
Jean: It all starts with the individual and that’s what ESUCP is all about. I would say whole person care looks not just at the body but at the mind too. Our team approach plans effective mental health care and establishes goals for the individual for their physical wellbeing and the mind.
Can you share wellness tips for staying healthy and managing stress? How do you personally incorporate these into your life?
Ajay: I have two simple tips for staying healthy and managing stress. First, unplug! Even if it’s only 20 minutes, get outside, smell the air and feel the breeze. Second, be mindful of the sounds around you. Listen to the rhythm of rain or the birds. Sounds simple but I do this every day and it really makes a difference.
Jean: I encourage everyone to stay hydrated especially in this extremely hot weather. Rest and eating balanced food groups, especially fluid-rich foods like fruit, also helps. I do these things in my own life. My job can be challenging, but the support I receive from the ICS team helps to relieve my own stress.
ABOUT EASTERSEALS UCP
Easterseals UCP and PORT Health are trustworthy, compassionate partners providing exceptional disability, behavioral health and addiction treatment services to help our neighbors live their best lives. Purpose, dedication and empathy drive our in-person and telehealth service delivery. Our diverse and inclusive 2,600 member team provides more than 10.2 million hours of meaningful support to 40,200 kids, adults and families in 11,000 home, facility and community locations across North Carolina and Virginia. Learn more at eastersealsucp.com.