Stories From the Front Lines of Memory Care

By Emily Eilers | Posted on 08.08.2017 | 0 comments
Recently I blogged about the disturbing trends of high turnover and staff burnout in the long-term care industry. But here at CPI, our Dementia Care Specialists believe that lighting a candle is better than cursing the darkness. We’re excited for the future, because we know there is hope for people with dementia and their caregivers—it’s why we take the time to celebrate this story of a changed life, a rejuvenated resident, and a family that is able to reconnect with a loved one in a meaningful way.
 
We don’t have to go far for these stories. Memory care professionals are happy to share the inspiring outcomes of providing Dementia Capable Care because these are more than case studies or testimonials—they’re celebrations of lives rediscovered. Each of these outcomes resulted from the belief that all people deserve to live full, quality lives—even if they have a dementia diagnosis. No matter what stage of dementia an individual is diagnosed with, they are capable of meaningfully engaging with life and participate in their community, and Dementia Care Specialists' training allowed these professionals to harness that possibility for their residents.
 
 

Real People, Real Outcomes 

Rediscovering a Sense of Self and a Sense of Home
An Allen Level 4.2 resident was placed in our community by her son and daughter-in-law. The son hadn’t seen his mother in six months, and when he was able to connect with her, he found her living conditions to be unsafe and found that she was attempting to hitchhike to town to get meals.  As you might imagine, when this resident came to the community she was profoundly unkempt. She hadn’t bathed or changed clothes in months, and her hair was badly matted and overgrown. While our staff were trying to gain her trust to address her hygiene, her son went shopping for clothing and our director found furniture for her living area.

This resident tried for the first few weeks to leave the facility or “get a ride home.” Knowing that she’d worked as a secretary, our staff would try and involve her in word search books, puzzles, stuffing envelopes, and even helping set the tables. Provided with new clothing, makeup, costume jewelry, and regular hair appointments, she became more agreeable to working with our therapists on bathing and dressing behaviors. She even began to put on her makeup and dress up, taking pride in her appearance.
 
She picked up the word searches and puzzles and can work through them on her own now. She is no longer seeking to leave the community, and has settled in well with the other residents. She’s more social, and she cares about her fellow residents.
-Kim Harlan, DCCCP
GreenTree at Mt. Vernon


 

Finding the Person Behind the “Aggressive” Personality
We recently moved "Jim" into our memory care unit. He was asked to leave a competitor memory care facility because he had "behavior issues" and was "too aggressive." I spent a few hours speaking with his wife about his typical behaviors, likes, and dislikes before he moved in. As a result, I made our memory care team aware of his discomfort in certain situations. We made a concerted effort to individualize his care based on his needs.
 
His wife approached me a few weeks ago and said, "We are so happy here. Thank you so much for taking such diligent care of him. Thank you for the little pats and touches. It really means a lot."
 
Jim has successfully integrated into our memory care community with few issues. We are very pleased with the outcome!
-Tabitha DeVogel, Nurse
Provision Living at Hermitage


 

Outbursts That Aren’t Really Outbursts
After one of my team members attended my Dementia Capable Care class, she put her approach training into practice almost immediately. At Happy Hour, a resident who has been diagnosed with dementia was very agitated and angry, wanting to leave, and trying to get out of her wheelchair to get away. My teammate knelt in her visual field, used her name, and asked her if she wanted to dance to redirect her from negative outbursts.
 
She sweetly smiled and nodded her head yes. My teammate then helped her to stand and the two danced together! The resident was happy and agreeable for the rest of the evening—she simply wanted some special attention and affection. What a wonderful application of this training!
-Ann James, Activities Manager
Provision Living St. Louis


 

When It Comes to Residents, Staff Are Just Another Branch of the Family Tree
The best testimonial I can give about Dementia Capable Care isn’t from my staff—it’s from the family members of our residents who see firsthand the transformative value of this care. Here are just a few pieces of feedback I’ve recently received from family members:  
  • “We moved her to Provision Living at Godfrey because of the memory care they provided. It’s a good program and all of the staff have been trained in dementia care.”
  • “It was hard to make the decision, but the staff have helped the transition for both my mother and me.”
  • “The staff have been so loving and caring. I feel like we are one big family.”
  • “They do a lot of activities for memory-impaired people, and they individualize activities for the residents.”
  • “The staff are helpful, loving, and caring. So much so that it’s like a calling and not just a job.”
-Lori McKinnon, Nurse
Provision Living at Godfrey


Editor's Note: Many of these outcomes have been previously shared in our DCS Training Center. 
 
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