Staff Expectations and the Need for Dementia Care Education

I am continuing to share the process of a seminar I conducted, as described in my post of 11/21/13. My task in this two-day workshop was to introduce a framework for an exemplary dementia program (SERVICE), and assist the participants in creating an action plan for at least one strategy to begin or enhance their dementia programs. The two-day workshop was made possible through a grant from Healthcare Research, Inc., in partnership with the GHCA and Alzheimer’s Association.

It was important to me to discuss the group’s expectations and needs, and what they hoped to achieve from the entire program. What came to light was the need for the very basics; an understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and various dementias, the disease process and progression, and types of activities to do and how to conduct them, to name a few.

We determined their expectations/wants for dementia care:
• Best practices
• How to create a home environment
• How to educate others regarding the disease
• Activities for dementia
• How to educate families
• Enhance my own knowledge
• How to engage residents who wander

This session validates what I believe to be true in all too many environments – that staff in assisted living and long-term care are not educated about nor properly equipped to manage individuals with dementia. Training is lacking. Yet this group, like so many others I encounter, truly wanted education. They care very much about their residents and families and yet they have not been given the information necessary to make them successful.

Their needs and wants also confirms my other belief, that most facilities lack organizational structure and have no real vision. In other words, without a vision, nothing motivates all employees to work together for a common goal. Instead, staff work in silos, put in their time, go home and do it all again tomorrow. Nothing unites staff or provides a direction or destination. Without speaking with a single voice, everyone is just doing their own individual thing.

Join me for the next blog where we will discuss how the participants were asked to identify and implement at least one aspect of SERVICE and the surprising results.

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