More training available for dementia care

Photo credit: Felizberto on Flickr

Photo credit: Felizberto on Flickr

More training is now available to long-term care workers in BC who work with people who have dementia.

It includes a focus on “person-centred care” and other safety strategies for workers in facilities that provide 24-hour assistance to elderly, disabled, and terminally ill patients who live there.

This new program for workers is the next phase of what started as a WorkSafeBC pilot project in 2012 and 2013, using material created by the Alzheimer Society of BC.

WorkSafeBC passed the pilot to SafeCare BC – a new industry safety association created in February 2014 for long-term care workers. SafeCare is now delivering the dementia care program throughout BC, after checking in with industry to hear what workers and employers needed.

“At the beginning of our journey, we conducted a training needs assessment with industry,” said Jennifer Lyle, SafeCare BC’s executive director. “We went out and asked employers and front line workers what they saw as needs. Dementia care was one of the top three priorities identified in that survey – both for employers and front line workers.”

The training aims to minimize risk of violence to workers while enhancing quality of care for a vulnerable – and growing – population. Today, there are up to 750,000 Canadians with some form of dementia, and that number is expected to double in the next 15 years.

Dementia affects each person differently, and some people have aggressive outbursts caused by fear, confusion, or any number of reasons.

“By learning about the disease, adapting the person’s surroundings and changing the way we communicate with the person, aggressive responses may be preventable,” reads the Alzheimer’s Society website.

Violence in health care is one of the top three causes of injury to workers – along with overexertion and slips, trips, and falls.

What is a person-centred approach?

“A person-centred approach is very much about respecting the person you’re delivering care to and being sensitive to their needs and wants and history,” Jennifer said. “It may be that you’re dealing someone who’s had a history of abuse for example – and when you’re walking in to provide care for a person, you may be walking into a trigger situation and that’s not pleasant for the person.”

Workers document preferences and behavioural triggers on each patient’s care plan and use “safety huddles” during shift changes.

“They can be done at shift transitions, where people get together and communicate things really quickly, so it’s a heads-up when you’re going into someone’s room to provide care,” Jennifer said. “It comes down to communication.”

Training sessions will be offered throughout the province to accommodate workers in different regions. Thanks to Jennifer for telling me about it.


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