Exemplary Dementia Programs: Change Begins With Respect

I have previously described the two-day workshop I conducted this year in Georgia for the GHCA and Alzheimer’s Association. This is the third of four posts describing the impact and results of the seminar.

The workshop was to serve as an introduction of a framework for an exemplary dementia program (SERVICE), and to assist the participants in creating an action plan for at least one strategy to begin or enhance their dementia programs.

We first determined the expectations/wants for dementia care of the participants, which included 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, and how to engage residents who wander.

In addition, the first day included an introduction to an organizational framework for healthcare entitled SERVICE, and real-life examples of implementation strategies and outcomes. The components of SERVICE includes: Service, Education, Respect, Vision, Inclusion, Communication, and Enrichment.

Attendees then gathered in small groups who identified an area that was of most concern for their facilities. Each then established an action plan to implement over the next month, with the expectation to report back their experience and progress in their respective facilities to the attendees at Day 2 of the seminar. Reports were to include successes, as well as barriers they encountered.

Day 2 began, as requested in the first session, on basic education and information regarding Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, including identification, symptoms, progression and behaviors. In addition, the presentation included the impact of environment, and how to create a successful atmosphere.

Participants then shared their reports on individual projects over the past month, and outcomes. Areas of focus included staff selection, orientation, preparation and turnover, as well as dementia education.

Some groups believed that in order to begin any new process, or initiatives related to staff, it was necessary to first create a respectful environment, including respect for all stakeholders. Two such groups worked on implementing a more respectful environment. Other groups determined that having an organizational vision was most important prior to initiating any new, additional programs.

I was in awe of the accomplishments, in just a month, of many of the participants. In the fourth and final post, I will describe ways in which the participants implemented aspects of SERVICE and the successful results.

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