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Improving quality of life for residents with dementia


Social Worker Lori MacLeoad uses games to work with residents with Dementia.

**The following is one of the stories from the Summer Richmond Residential Care Newsletter, which features content from Minoru and Richmond Lions Manor-Bridgeport, with contributions from staff, leaders, and project managers.

As health care professionals, caring is in our nature. It's what drives us to come to work every day, helps us strive for better patient outcomes, and encourages us to continue learning so we can find new ways of improving health care.

According to Alzheimer Society BC, over half a million people in Canada are currently living with dementia—a number that is set to almost double in the next 15 years. With an increasing population of seniors in our community, caring for clients with dementia or other cognitive impairments is a reality that we, as health care professionals, have to prepare for. Luckily, there is more and more research being conducted on how best to care for clients with dementia using evidence-based approaches and models to care.

Richmond Lions Manor-Bridgeport (RLMB) recently made a commitment to transform how they deliver care to older adults with dementia—supporting a person-centered approach to achieve real emotional connections between those working and living together. To help achieve this change, many staff have now taken the course, DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way, which focuses on the person and the prepared environment. The DementiAbility Method starts with getting to know the residents through the WOW framework: Who they were, Observation, and What are we going to do?

“We need to change the culture of care for older adults with dementia by focusing on their abilities instead of their disabilities," says occupational therapist Daniel Han. “Each resident may have needs, feelings, and interests that are not being met. If we engage the residents in meaningful activities throughout the day, we can help them find purpose and a sense of belonging."

Fereen Ali, Resident Care Coordinator, also took the DementiAbility workshop and says it's helped her find ways to prevent residents from experiencing feelings of boredom and loneliness.

“The workshop showed me the value of creating an environment that supports the needs, interests, and abilities of residents living with dementia," she says. “It also demonstrated how having a prepared environment or readily available activities to keep residents engaged can make their daily living more meaningful and set them up for success."

Evidence-based c​are in practice

One approach that has been a huge success in working with residents with dementia has been the implementation of activity carts that offer more opportunities for RLMB staff to spend time with residents and get to know them.

Social Worker Lori MacLeod says she's seen positive changes with the implementation of these evidence-based care approaches.

“One day I approached a resident who was not having a very good day. I often pull out the sorting tasks with him, so I gave him coloring pencils to sort. He was hesitant at first, but I helped him along the way and he completed the task. When he was done, he had a huge smile on his face—something I'd never seen before—and said “there, I told you we could do it!" It was such a great feeling for me to see him smile and see how proud he was of his accomplishment."

Shirley Nelson, a patient care aide at RLMB also recalls a positive experience with a resident when applying concepts from DementiAbility.

“There's one resident I work with who is quite withdrawn and who doesn't socialize with others. One day I found a farm-themed coloring book on our activity cart and asked if she had ever lived on a farm. Her eyes lit up instantly. I began to read passages from the book and asking about the farm she grew up on. She began to tell me about the chickens, pigs, cats, dogs and cows on her farm. The next day, her sister came to visit and I mentioned the conversation we had the previous day. The sisters began reminiscing about living on the farm and all the wonderful memories they shared as kids. It was so lovely to see them smiling, laughing, and sharing childhood memories."

Creating a culture o​f change

With more staff learning and seeing the value in the DementiAbility Methods, Jackie Samra, a Resident Care Coordinator says that “staff now feel that they have the same mindset as their peers to help support this change and make a difference."

“I was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm the team has demonstrated at work after attending the workshop," she says. “They share examples of how this education has empowered them in their work and the importance of bringing your heart out to work and how it feels so rewarding."

As RLMB works toward their goal of becoming a DementiAbility certified home, they hope to serve as a leader for other residential care sites. Jo-Anne Kirk, manager of RLMB says the process has been transformative.

“My colleagues are so excited about having a new approach to connecting with residents and seeing how applying these methods can truly making a difference in their lives," she says. “It's transformational – I really believe that all Long Term Care staff should take this training."​

SOURCE: Improving quality of life for residents with dementia ( )
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