Category Archives: Senior Care Professionals

Senior Care Education Leaders: Online vs. In Person Training

learning concept with education elements

Digital, online and virtual learning have changed the landscape of training alternatives for the senior care workforce.  Flexibility, minimization of spacial barriers and simplicity of delivery are certainly valid reasons why training programs must include some components in training curricula.

The question we must ask ourselves is the intrinsic value of integrating in-person training to enhance the effectiveness and application of knowledge for our increasingly diverse and younger workforce? shares 10 most significant breakthroughs that recent research has made on the science of learning.  I want to talk about 2 of these 10 breakthroughs.

The brain needs novelty.  Researchers have found that novelty causes the dopamine system in the brain to some activated, sending the chemical throughout the brain. While dopamine is often regarded as the “feel good” chemical, scientists have shown that it actually plays a much bigger role, encouraging feelings of motivation and prompting the brain to learn about these new an novel stimuli.  This breakthrough has led to some major changes in how we think about learning, and has motivated man schools to embrace learning methods that cater to our brains’ need for new and different experiences.

Learning is social.  Peer collaboration offers students access to a diverse array of experiences and requires the use of nearly all the body’s senses, which in turn create greater activation throughout the brain and enhances long-term memory.  Group work, especially when it capitalizes on the strengths of its members, may be more beneficial than many realize.

Face-to-face learning creates a dynamic relationship between the student and teacher (or trainer) and between students.   These relationships combined with the personal element of a workshop enhance the dynamics created when passion, gestures and language are fluid and real.   There is less room for miscommunication in on-site training vs. virtual since teachers and fellow students can openly discuss issues at hand.

The cost effectiveness of online training must be weighed by the retained learning taking place by the student.  When crunching the numbers, if you pay twice to retrain staff or the value of training is not sufficient to empower the participant to improve job skills, the cost of turnover is exponentially higher than investing in quality training to enhance one’s ability to do their jobs with greater skill and efficiency.

As we look at the challenges of training a growing and diverse workforce to care for our elders, we are encouraged by the training  leaders who embrace the  value of integrating onsite experiential education that is effective, research-based and innovative.

Person-centered care is  a term that has been around for quite some time.  Creating an organization where person-centered thinking is a core culture model cannot be achieved without innovative training that changes everyone within the organization.  We challenge leaders to embrace the innovation available in  experiential learning that transforms attitudes, actions and thinking!

It’s 2017 – what is YOUR Organization’s Dementia Care plan

Travel, services and international business concept with a globe and international flags of the world on white background.

Bupa, the largest international provider of specialist dementia care and Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the global federation of Alzheimer’s associations, in 2013, joined forces to publish a global report to urge policy-makers to create National Dementia Plans.  According to Bupa and ADI, plans help governments ensure that health and social care systems are adequately structured and funded to ensure high quality care and support be available to people living with dementia today and in the future.

Their analysis provides an insight into the content of existing National Dementia Plans and advice on how to develop one, and review factors that might affect implementation.  Based on analysis, the report advises on developing a plan and reviews factors that might affect implementation.  The first category of Best Practice was that of Content, which includes:

  1.  Improve awareness and education
  2.  Improve (early) diagnosis and treatment
  3.  Improve support available at home
  4. Strengthen support available to family members
  5. Improve residential/institutional care
  6. Better integrate care pathways and the coordination of care
  7. Improve training for healthcare professionals
  8. Monitor progress
  9. Commitment to research
  10. Recognize the role of innovative technologies

We believe this is an excellent checklist for any organization to build their own comprehensive Dementia Plan.  While government initiatives are certainly important, their is urgency across the spectrum of elder and healthcare spectrum to implement plans now.

As we look at 2017, it is our hope that every institution of higher learning be placing dementia education for clinicians, medical students, and allied health professionals at the top of their list;  that eldercare providers empower each and every front line caregiver with tools to improve communications and care practices to improve resident’s quality of life;  that non-profits engage outreach family education programs that provides support, and helps reduces stress for families struggling to deal with the challenges of living with dementia;  and that every hospital has solid action plans in place to become dementia friendly in 2017.

A plan is just that – the structure with which to take the next step of outcomes-driven transformation and positive change.  We look forward to a great year of collaboration as we usher in a year of innovation in dementia care training.

Memory Care: Events are forgotten, but feelings linger

Feelings linger in memory care
Feelings linger.

For people in memory care, emotions may outlast memory of the event that triggered the emotion. This is according to a study by Justin Feinstein. In other words, if a person with dementia has a happy experience, say from a family visit, he will continue to feel happy for a period of time even though he forgets the actual visit. The same goes for sad or angry feelings. Memory care professionals sometimes question if their efforts have a lasting effect. Insight from this study suggests that yes, they do.

Families often avoid visiting loved ones with dementia, assuming that the visit won’t be remembered. They ask, So what difference does it make?  If emotion lingers even after the memory is gone, then it might make a big difference.

While the elder may not remember the visit, pleasurable feelings it elicits live on even though the person can’t say why she feels good. This is important information for families. Their visits positively impact quality of life—the feelings of connection lives on! Anyone with a loved one with dementia, perhaps the most important thing is to show up and create positive moments. Step outside in the sunshine, share music, hold hands, look at flowers.  Activities don’t need to be elaborate. Anything that creates pleasure may make a lasting difference.

As Maya Angelo says, “They won’t remember what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”


Education – the Key to Empowerment for Senior Care Professionals

head keyYou’ve heard the expression Knowledge is Power.  When it comes to caring for an aging adult, the key to empowerment clearly resides in education.

Why is it then, with the amount of information that is available at our fingertips that families and professionals are lacking in skills that are necessary to improve care and quality of life?

A better question might be HOW are we educating others?  We’ve gone to lack of education to information overload but we are still faced with the same challenges.   Google dementia, Alzheimer’straining, family caregiver in any combination and pages of information will pop up.  Research varies on how much of what we read actually sticks, that is information that we remember but my guess is that all this information is not making a huge impacts in empowering the masses to improve care for aging adults, especially those living with dementia.

We’re excited to be expanding our network of Master Trainers in 2017.  Bringing together passionate people who believe that education and training is absolutely essential to meeting the growing numbers of healthcare professionals, eldercare providers and families who are and will be caring for aging loved ones.

High stress, limited access to support, difficult family situations and lack of understanding collectively (and singularly) can have a huge effect on how much we learn and apply at any given time.  This is why we believe experiential education and training is so much more effective in creative transformative change within the eldercare sphere.

Our Master Trainers bring quality, hands-on education through the delivery of research-based innovative programs in the dementia education arena.  Dementia Live and Compassionate Touch are changing how we care for those we serve, providing the keys to empowerment and  transformative change in the aging world.

We change attitudes and actions and look forward to a new year of growing, expanding and educating others.