It is our vision to create a dementia capable society—a world in which those living with dementia, their loved ones, and care partners are supported and thrive.

With so many millions of Americans impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias we must make it our priority to compassionately and skillfully support those living with the illness and their loved ones.

There must be a dementia capable workforce working at every phase within the health care continuum, from the physician’s office, to hospitals, senior living, and home health care.

What is a dementia capable workforce? It suggests all who work in health care are confident and competent to support those living with dementia by having the following knowledge and skills:

  • Know how to adapt communication, approach, and activities to match the level of cognitive ability and challenges of those at all stages of dementia.

  • Know how to incorporate personhood—preferences, habits, routines, and history—into care.

  • Know how to prevent and de-escalate distress behaviors, understanding distress behaviors are most often a communication that something is wrong, and therefore is something we can positively impact without drugs.

In addition to these skills, team members should possess characteristics such as empathy, patience, and compassion.

Innovating and Evolving Dementia Capable Care Training

Our organization, Dementia Care Specialists, has been working for over 20 years to bring the best person-centered dementia and behavioral health training and programming to the industry. It is our goal to empower and prepare the health care workforce with specialized knowledge, skills, and tools that are highly effective and inspiring.

As an Occupational Therapist specializing in geriatrics, I founded Dementia Care Specialists back in 1998. In 2009 I made the decision for my organization to become a part of Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) because it seemed like an excellent opportunity to really make a difference. Both of our organizations are mission driven and passionate about helping the vulnerable by training the workforce who cares for them.

The primary reason for our union was to create the most effective learning experience around the best, evidence-based dementia and behavior training content available. Through our collaboration I was excited to gain the expertise of CPI’s extraordinary instructional design team, which would take our evidence-based training content to a whole new level of learning.

And I saw the significant importance of expanding our content through the addition of the behavioral components from CPI’s highly regarded Crisis Development ModelSM. We integrated this model and the actionable teachings into our Dementia Capable Care Training. This was a game changer because, as we know, distress behaviors like anxiety, agitation, and hitting create some of the greatest challenges and biggest risks for all involved. Now we have a solution.

Dementia Capable Care Training

Dementia Capable Care is an evidence-based dementia and behavior training program that provides front-line staff and health care workers with the tools they need to be the best care partner for those living at different stages of dementia.

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As you can see, we have a history of innovation with the intent of being the best, because those living with dementia, their loved ones, and our health care partners need and deserve the best.

We are always learning by listening to our customers, and we make changes to help our customers meet the challenges they are facing. For that reason, we recently made the following enhancements:

We created a blended learning experience, thereby reducing the amount of time our Certified Instructors need to spend training their staff in Dementia Capable Care.

Our Certified Instructors often do more than training. They hold a leadership or a care provision role. Knowing how badly the health care industry is experiencing staffing shortages, we wanted to be sure to do our part to help. Our blended training reduces the time the Certified Instructor needs to spend in training, enabling more time engaged in the duties associated with their other vital roles.

We pivoted to virtual Dementia Capable Care Training to alleviate the challenges of travel and attending in-person events.

This makes it easier and more cost effective for those who want to become a Certified Instructor or those who want to receive Dementia Capable Care training directly from our team of Global Professional Instructors.

We created Dementia Capable Care education and resources specifically for families.

The program is based on their lived experiences, and it’s called Dementia Capable Care at Home: for Families.

And now, based upon customer feedback, we are refreshing our business model, by addressing the two most frequent customer requests. I’m so pleased to introduce these two new enhancements, available this fall.

“Can you provide a shorter Dementia Capable Care training for those who need less training and/or for those who have less time available for training?”

Our Response: “We are pleased to introduce our new Dementia Capable Care: Online Learning Modules as a training option.”

As you may know, Dementia Capable Care is an evidence-based learning experience, which combines Claudia Allen’s Cognitive Disabilities Model and Allen Cognitive Levels with CPI’s Crisis Development ModelSM and Behavior Levels. We created an inspiring person-centered, and abilities-focused approach to dementia care, with the additional vital focus of preventing and de-escalating distress behaviors.

This new, modified training product features the online learning modules only, from our Dementia Capable Care, 2nd Edition Training. These online modules take approximately 3 ½ to 4 hours to complete and are available to Dementia Capable Care Certified Instructors.

This shorter training is targeted toward ancillary staff such as cooks, office administration and housekeepers, those who do not desire the full training (which is 7-8 hours and includes a Dementia Capable Care Specialist Credential), or for those limited on training time. Now Certified Instructors have two great choices and can decide what team members need what level of training, while being assured all levels of staff will be able to collaborate around shared concepts and approaches.

“I love this training. As a Certified Instructor, can I train Dementia Capable Care, 2nd Edition Training wherever I would like?”

Our Response: “We are pleased to be removing the Base of Employment Restriction for Dementia Capable Care, 2nd Edition Certified Instructors.”

Many of our certified instructors have been chomping at the bit to train our Dementia Capable Care program beyond their place of employment. They have expressed interest in teaching our program at a conference or for a group outside of their work. That’s why we will be removing the restriction of only training at your workplace.

This is very much in keeping with our mission of creating a dementia capable workforce who is ready and able to support those living with dementia and their loved ones. Through our wonderful certified instructors, we anticipate our training will empower and inspire more of the workforce, faster.

These two enhancements will be made available this fall, but that’s not all! Watch for more exciting things to come because more is in the works!

In summary, 1 in 3 seniors die with dementia. Those statistics are powerful and sobering. It’s not “what if” someone you know or love has dementia, it is “who and when”. It is not “what if” an elder you work with has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it is “who and how many”.

Gaining the knowledge and skills embedded within Dementia Capable Care training is imperative for all who work within health care. This commitment of preparing staff with quality training is required in order for positive outcomes for those living with dementia, their loved ones, and health care providers to occur.

The time is now to immerse health care workers in these Dementia Capable Care evidenced-based care approaches that have been so skillfully crafted into quality learning experiences. The return on this level of training is extraordinary and far reaching. Working together, I know we will make the world a better place for those living with dementia and for all who support and love them. Thank you for caring, and we greatly appreciate your partnership.

Kim Warchol, OTR/L, is the founder and President of Dementia Care Specialists at Crisis Prevention Institute.