3 Ways to Improve Dementia Care
I have had the opportunity to work in many care settings both as an employee and as a consultant. I really enjoy this part of my job because so many communities offer different approaches and I can see what works for my clients and other residents. However, these great approaches often fail and the reason is because we aren’t changing the way we do things as the disease changes.
When I was the director of a dementia unit it was brand new. No one had lived there yet. So naturally, we had a lot of lower-acuity residents with dementia. They were very active, forming connections, had an easier transition, etc. Our activities reflected their abilities at the time. But one of the challenges we encountered, and I expect that community still encounters, is changing with the residents.
Each person’s dementia progresses at his or her own speed. We, as providers, have to be equipped to change with each and every resident. There are a few things that I recommend to communities to ensure that residents are receiving the best and most holistic quality of care.
- Continuously reassess each residents needs. Don’t wait until you’re required to do it.
Yes a reassessment is required by the state regulations, for most states, every 6 months. But I am talking deeper and more than that. An assessment will include, what types of responses to they give to questions, how long does it take for them to respond, what cues do they understand, what cues do they miss? Then we know how that person will participate in day-to-day activities as well as recreational activities. I recommend doing this regularly. That can mean every week, every month, or every 3 months. It will depend on the person. However, if you have an idea of their capabilities on a continuous basis, you’ll be able to adjust appropriately so they get more out of the programs you offer.
- Train your staff every single day.
Everyday should be a training opportunity for your team. From the way they great the residents to the way they say goodbye or exit for their shift, there is a training opportunity. I recommend daily team meetings to talk about some of the pits and peaks. It can also be a great way to share information about residents and hear what has been effective for someone else. Your team of staff can be great teachers themselves. Maximizing this opportunity is important.
- Train all of your staff members. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
Everything that occurs in a day is an activity for someone with dementia. Having a meal, getting their laundry returned to them, cleaning their apartment, and even having their monthly vitals taken. We often forget to have daily training or even monthly training with housekeeping and dining staff. They are interacting with our residents as much as the care staff. So we mustn’t forget them.
Assisted Living Communities put a lot of thought into the design of the community, which improves the overall experience for their residents with dementia. There are still additional opportunities to create the best environment on an ongoing basis. Need some more suggestions? Let me know! Trovato would be happy to help.