Staff Profile: therapeutic dementia worker Tabatha Gallant

Tabatha is a therapeutic dementia worker at Summerset Manor in Summerside

"They are still people. It's not their fault that dementia is affecting them, and their humanity is intermixed in all that confusion. To make a connection in the humanity of the person goes a long way," said Tabatha Gallant.

Tabatha is therapeutic dementia worker at Summerset Manor in Summerside.

Ten years ago, she began her career in long-term care recreation with Health PEI. With a degree in gerontology, she's worked as a dementia worker for the past seven years. Tabatha's role as a holistic dementia specialist is possibly the only one in Canada.

"I always say, I'm like Tigger, bouncy and fun, and I'm the only one!"

Tabatha's work began as an eight-month special project to explore specialized enhanced care and one-on-one interventions to help residents with dementia. Now, the position is a full-time role.

"I try to integrate things into a lifestyle flow, like working on an art-show piece or something as simple as folding facecloths," she said. "This leads to staff interacting with residents similarly. They see how these things work and the difference in the resident after that activity. This also creates a reduction in the need for medication and provides additional quality for everyone."

While Tabatha sees the difference it makes in the residents' lives every day. She recalls how a comfort cat, an animatronic therapy cat, made a world of difference in one resident’s life.

"She would get quite agitated at a particular time of day and we tried everything to distract her," she said. "Nothing worked, until one day she got her hands on one of the comfort cats. Her whole life changed. She had meaning, purpose, and direction again. She had a "baby" to care for! It allowed her quality at the end of her life."

Tabatha said her job as a therapeutic dementia worker is a great fit for her personality.

"I enjoy the challenge and the detective aspect," she said. "No one says anything concisely and coherently, but I know when something is wrong. I am then able to share helpful information with the team, which leads to improved staff experience. If they know what the resident needs and what the issue might be, they will feel less overwhelmed and be able to provide the right care."

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Published date: 
March 15, 2024
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