With the number of veterans needing long-term care in dementia units rising, it’s often a race between staff understanding the disease and the increasing amount of persons needing that understanding.

Amie Dorney understands all too well. In her four years as a certified therapeutic-recreation specialist at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA, she’s noticed patterns in the behavior of patients—patterns that are often misinterpreted. “Some might categorize wandering, aggression, agitation and hoarding as negative behaviors, but they are normal for those with dementia...staff need to understand what dementia is and how to deal with patients who have it, so that we can give our veterans the best care possible for the time they are living with us.”

Dorney turned to Dementia Care Specialists (DCS) for help. The program’s on-site train-the-trainer course builds a solid foundation of disease awareness and therapeutic structure for all staff members. Incorporating the Allen Cognitive Model, the DCS program hones in on patients’ remaining abilities instead of their deficits, teaching staff to minimize negative behavior, and enhance communication and support.

Dementia Capable Care training reaches past the VA Medical Center, too. Dorney hopes that “discussion about the program will create interest beyond the hospital, ultimately drawing in social workers, therapists and providers of in-home care to veterans and others in the community.”

Click here to read more about the program and the goals of Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.

Learn more here about how you can raise the standard for dementia care.