Last summer, the Murfreesboro Campus of Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) held a graduation ceremony for all our graduates of Dementia Capable Care.

The Murfreesboro campus has one of the most comprehensive Community Living Centers (CLC) in the VA system. The campus offers services in rehabilitation, restorative nursing care, specialized wound care, long-term intravenous antibiotics, chronic ventilator care, end-of-life care, dementia care, and restorative care for chronic mental illness.

Since implementing Dementia Capable Care training, TVHS has trained over 150 employees in the program. Employees who’ve attended the training are from all backgrounds, including physicians (geriatricians, internists, gero-psychiatrists), nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse executives and nurse managers, psychologists, PharmDs, dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, RNs, LPNs, nurse assistants, housekeepers, chaplains, interior designers, nurse educators, medical residents, speech pathologists, audiologists, and social workers who work in the CLC, Primary Care Clinic, Dementia Clinic, acute medicine, and acute mental health units at the Nashville and Murfreesboro campuses.

Our TVHS trainers who are certified to teach the Dementia Capable Care: Foundation program also come from diverse backgrounds, including physical therapy, social work, recreational therapy, and nursing. Other trainers’ roles include gero-psychiatrist, internist, and geriatrician.   

Our trainees commented on how helpful the course was for them at work and in their everyday lives at home. In fact, many participants commented that the course even helped them with their parents’, grandparents’, siblings’, and spouses’ struggles with dementia.

I invited Tony Jace, Chief Executive Officer of the Crisis Prevention Institute, to attend the graduation ceremony, and to my great honor he presented me with a plaque recognizing our commitment to creating a Dementia Capable Society.

Kim Warchol, founder and president of CPI’s Dementia Care Specialists, had also prepared a special video for the graduates, congratulating them on ongoing interventions from the training program such as developing a mail route for a veteran who seeks his former occupation as a mailman. 

A second video was also shared, demonstrating the benefits of the program for a patient with dementia who seemingly did not have any ability to function secondarily to her underlying dementia. But she responded to dementia capable training and techniques.

Other awards given to graduates were for:
  • The best student
  • The CLC with the most creative system-wide representation of dementia care training (first and second prizes with 7 CLCs)
  • An employee with a personal story from Dementia Capable Care training
  • An employee with a positive demonstration of training in the workplace

The TVHS also had displays of more than 13 services as they relate to dementia training, such as the Allen Cognitive Assessment and the best ability to function, the multisensory (Snoezelen) room at TVHS, dementia training and education in the Geriatric Service, Recreational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work Services, and Occupational Therapy; infection control principles, speech and audiology interventions, etc.

In addition, the Long Term Care Institute, which is an independent surveying service for all of the VA CLCs, recently surveyed TVHS and cited dementia training as a best practice for the CLC under the category of Leadership and Workplace Practices. 

Future endeavors at TVHS for dementia training include continuing Dementia Capable Care training, and the development by me of an education session for families who have a veteran with dementia, as well as a graduate course for graduates of the Dementia Capable Care training program.

I’m enormously proud of our graduates and their commitment to quality care for our veterans.

Dr. Marvin Stubbs, M.D. leads the team at the VA's Community Living Center in Murfreesboro, TN. With the mantra “quality, comfort, and compassion,” Dr. Stubbs facilitates the center's change from institutional care to resident-centered, abilities-based care that honors patients in a supportive, homelike environment.