Great dementia consultants do not work from home.
Would you trust/hire someone to build you and your family a SAFE home if they hand’t even picked up a hammer in a few years?
Like everyone else, I have shifted my consulting services to be virtual (because I have to due to a pandemic, COVID-19). However, in order to provide the quality of recommendations, suggestions, guidance, and support I have, it requires much more time. I can’t wait to be face-to-face with my clients (in both formal and informal settings) again when the COVID-19 threat is drastically minimized.
However, providers have been accepting virtual dementia support for a long time. Whether it’s having one dementia expert (corporate director) in charge of 40-50 communities, hiring a consultant that works from their home, a trainer who creates and delivers trainings then leaves your community, or utilizing computer training programs or webinars for dementia training.
What makes great dementia consultant?
During this quarantine, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with some really great dementia specialists. Unfortunately, I’ve also encountered some not-so-great dementia specialists. So now I am confident in my assessment of what a good dementia consultant needs to have/understand:
2. Person-centered approach
3. Understanding of latest research and the ability to apply and assess its effectiveness.
How is a virtual dementia consultant limited from being great?
Consider how being social distancing has impacted you. When I walk my dog, as I keep my distance, fewer people make eye contact or say “hello” than before (my dog is devastated and thinks he has lost his “cuteness” since people won’t look at him). It’s only been 2-3 months. Now, consider how being a dementia specialist who has not had regular hands-on experience may impact the quality of services their providing:
1. Limits a dementia consultant’s ability to maintain and develop empathy for people with dementia, their formal caregivers, and informal caregivers.
2. Disconnects the consultant from the people making true person-centered care impossible
3. Prevents the expert from combining “text book” (research articles, text books, seminars, etc.) with experiential learning, which research has shown is essential.
Is your dementia support program great?
So I challenge formal care providers to use their personal experience with the effects of social distancing and relate it to the dementia support services within their companies, communities, departments, etc. Assess your current dementia care practices by asking yourself and your team:
1. Does your trainer have regular hands-on experience with people with dementia and the people providing the care (formal and informal)?
2. Are your trainings experiential or limited to virtual and classroom training (case-studies within a classroom training is better but still considered classroom training!)
3. Is your team supported by a human who has been in their shoes recently and regularly?
Now, let me ask you this again:
Would you hire someone to build a safe house for you and our family if they hadn’t picked up a hammer in a few years?