It’s no wonder that we have an ever growing quest for simplicity. Not just in our personal lives, but this phrase surrounds many conversations within the business community – especially with those of us in senior care. There is a recurring plea from senior care professionals today with regards to education.. keep it simple. Teach us by showing, because we know that when we learn by doing, we’re going to retain that knowledge.
Why is that teaching those who care for those with dementia often is everything but simple? Dementia (and other cognitive impairment) in older adults is anything but simple. A complex web of identifying and managing symptoms is no easy task from any level within the care spectrum. Yet much of what we teach direct care staff has little to do with these 2 basic needs: Understanding and Empowerment.
“We need tools. We need solutions to behaviors. We need simplicity”. These are words that I hear almost daily as I speak to administrators, memory care directors, marketing staff and clinical professionals.
AGEucate provides such training programs. We provide the tools to understand the plight of dementia, sensory loss, cognitive impairment. Once you understand what an aging person’s life is really like, then here is a tool to empower you to provide better care. To help ease agitation, engage that person with a caregiver or family member. These programs are not complicated, but extremely powerful. Evidenced based programs with the clinical research to back up the methodology and outcomes.
Bring back simple to your communities and see what extraordinary changes will take place in the lives of your residents, patients, staff, caregivers and families. We must all consider the far-reaching consequences of complex medicine in our society today.
Pam Brandon, founder AGEucate LLC, providers of the Virtual Dementia Tour and Compassionate Touch programs.
Our team was priviledged to have recently been asked to present at the North Dakota Long Term Care Association. Included in this event was a special one day Frontline Caregiver Conference. In an industry faced with severe staff shortages, particularly in North Dakota, we certainly applaud the leaders that chose to honor frontline staff with a day to network with other professionals, enjoy some pampering from vendors (massages and mani’s to name a few!) and develop new skills to enhance their very demanding jobs.
After a busy week, it was nice to reflect on the events that took place during the flight back to Texas. I have deep respect for those who choose the path of caring for elders. While it can be a rewarding profession, it’s also one of the hardest jobs on the planet. My heart and soul for the senior care sphere is embedded in years of personal caregiving for my own parents. I learned quickly how heartwrenching it is to witness a parent’s declining health; to rely on someone else to love and nurture them when you can no longer do it all yourself; and to put one’s own needs aside to give wholly to someone, especially when they are struggling.
Through this, I witnessed multitudes of caregivers who were professionals in their field, having the unexplainable gift of serving, communicating and giving unconditionally. This takes a special human being. As a family member, these caregivers were our angels.
To the associations and providers who are stepping up to honor frontline staff, I applaud you and encourge others to add this to your agendas for your next conference, convention or symposium. For elder care communities, this should be engrained in your culture. One client we have the honor to work with actually flips the org chart every morning. Those they serve come first, and guess whose next? The frontline staff. THAT is culture change.
The life blood of our industry lies in empowering, training and supporting our frontline staff. We are privileged to help in this efforts. We need to all move in the same direction with these core values and committment to changing our culture together.
Honoring our seniors means honoring those who care for them.
I use the term inside-out a LOT. It just seems to fit many descriptives for me. I also like transformative change. When you look at these together, I believe that so much of what we are doing as educators in the elder care field should be focused on helping organizations bring about inside-out changes that lead to transformation or deep culture change. I love the work being done through such organizations at Pioneer Network, Leading Age, Eden Alternative and so many others that have stepped up to create out of the box initiatives and thinking. It’s not an easy task, but I’m privileged to be a part of this movement and work alongside organizations across the country who are taking bold steps in person-centered care. It’s exciting, challenging, sometimes daunting – but the efforts of just one person can have exponential effects across an organization. Hats off to all of those who are blazing new trails!
Our work is fascinating, isn’t it? I find the senior care industry to be filled with people with passion and compassion. So many are just like me, coming to this field because of a personal experience in helping an older adult in their life. I love helping caregivers with challenges, and I believe deeply in the value of education. With caregiving, that’s a big bite – because there is so much to learn. And we should all look at this from the standpoint of the often over used phrase “It takes a Village”, shouldn’t we? I find it quite amazing to observe the “feel” for a senior care community. Beyond the fancy décor, and new impressive buildings, what matters is the care that is provided. When you have both, it’s an added bonus, but certainly the passion and compassion of the team that takes care of your precious loved one is the most important – it is what’s on the inside. Continue reading