Richmond Lions Manor-Bridgeport team members with their DementiAbility certification.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things as health-care professionals. Notably, the vulnerability of our seniors and the work we must continue to keep them healthy and safe, but also to provide them with good quality of life and support their individual needs.
Richmond Lions Manor-Bridgeport (RLMB) team started this work long before the term pandemic was part of our everyday lexicon. Occupational therapist, Dan Han, has been a site champion for many years — working to change the culture of care for older adults with dementia at the long-term care home through the DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way. The method provides health-care workers with foundations to support residents with dementia including always putting residents first by finding ways to help them deal with boredom and loneliness, and focusing on ability versus deficit.
“It's so important to recognize that each resident has their own individual needs and feelings," says Dan. “It's our duty as health care providers to find ways to engage residents in meaningful activities throughout the day so they can find purpose, success and a sense of belonging — DementiAbility helps us achieve this."
This past month, Richmond Lions Manor-Bridgeport (RLMB) became the first Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) facility to be awarded certification by the global organization, DementiAbility Enterprises, Inc. The certification highlights the team's commitment to transforming how they deliver care to older adults with dementia. The DementiAbility method supports a person-centered approach to care in order to enhance relationships between those working and living together. To help achieve this change, many staff have taken the workshop, thanks to the Kronier Family Education Fund, and were inspired to apply the workshop principles directly to their work and other projects at RLMB.
“We've worked really hard to make education a priority for our staff," says Jo-Anne Kirk, Manager, RLMB. “Attending the workshop has been one way we've been able to positively affect the culture here at RLMB. The workshop helps to instill a passion for dementia care and supports the creation of champions throughout the site who can help spread this even further."
After completing several case studies, completing environmental adaptation projects, applying the DementiAbility Method, and establishing new activities for residents that embody the DementiAbility principles, Dan put together a video to summarize the amazing work RLMB staff have been doing to care for their residents. He had been planning on releasing this video in late March, but held off due to COVID-19. But three months into the pandemic, Dan realized that he needed to share the video to remind staff of all the work they had accomplished pre-COVID-19 and to celebrate the care and compassion they've continued to show throughout the pandemic. DementiAbility Enterprises, Inc. was so impressed with the video, that they awarded the team with DementiAbility certification.
"Now that we've been certified, we feel that all of our hard work has paid off, and we feel ready to help others learn how DementiAbility can work in their long-term care homes," says Dan. “But there is still more work to do in our own home," he says, adding that his vision is to improve care for older adults with dementia throughout British Columbia.
"We're currently adapting and restarting our activities and groups to align with COVID-19 infection control guidelines."
And while certification is not necessary to utilize DementiAbility methods, Dan says it was a goal that helped them learn how to improve the culture in long-term care and how to provide the best quality of care for older adults.
“Our goal now is to continue this important work and to promote the benefits of DementiAbility to decision makers at Vancouver Coastal Health. DementiAbility provides a road map to get started and it helps inspire staff to think differently and to be proud of the care and compassion that they provide. This is the first step to culture change. We hope to inspire other long-term care homes to embark on similar journeys and achieve their own successes through this model of care."
Jo-Anne says that the certification is also a reminder for staff that no matter what challenges lay ahead, they can always go back to the foundations they learned.
“It's great for us to stand back and remember why we're doing this work," she says. “The pandemic has had a profound impact on staff, on residents, on families. The video Dan put together was really a way to inspire staff and remind everyone of all the work that had been going on pre-COVID-19 is not lost and in fact, has created a strong team bond that has been needed these past few months."