Health workers train to care for persons with dementia

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Strengthening mental health services -

People dealing with dementia can present unique challenges to caregivers in seniors’ homes and health care settings.

As a way to strengthen mental health services for Islanders, the Government of Prince Edward Island and Holland College have developed a new program that trains the province’s health professionals to effectively and sensitively care for persons with dementia.

“This program allows professionals working in health care to attend classes focused on caring for persons dealing with dementia,” said Lornie Hughes, program manager for health and community studies at Holland College. “We are working with registered nurses, LPNs, and RCWs to help them better care for this population.”

The first 24-student cohort of the “Caring for Persons with Dementia” industry course began in September. Holland College developed the course in partnership with Health PEI. 

To develop the curriculum, a working group made up of Holland College faculty as well as staff from the Prince Edward Home and Beach Grove Home explored curriculum, resources, and criteria for participants.

The course explores various aspects of dementia using the principles of Gentle Persuasive Approach (GPA) as a foundation. Students examine the different types of dementia, identify the physical changes that occur, develop a person-centred care approach in supporting and caring for those living with this illness, and examine the need for self-awareness and self-care for those working with persons with dementia.

“Self-care can be very important for caregivers working with this population,” Hughes said. “It’s important that our workers know they can take steps to deal with the stresses that can come from this work.”

Shelley Connick , administrator of Long Term Care East, says it has been important to Health PEI to equip current and future staff for the challenges of working with this complex population.

“We intend to evaluate the outcomes from this undertaking at Prince Edward Home and Beach Grove Home to inform future staff development plans within the organization,” she said. “Residents suffering from dementia have specialized care needs, and we will pursue every means we can to positively impact their quality of their lives while they are in our long-term care environment.”

Health PEI offers a Geriatric Program with assessment and assistance for the complex health needs of older adults. 

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