Tag Archives: dementia training

Keep it Simple and Engage – Tips for Effective Dementia Training

High staff turnover in long-term care is certainly not a recent phenomenon.  Going back to the 1970s studies pointed to average turnover rates for registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) ranging between 55% – 75%.  With growing demands for these professions as our aging population explodes, many providers are reporting upwards of 100% turnover.  Many factors need to be addressed – one being how we are preparing this workforce to work with the growing numbers of older adults with dementia? Leaders have many options for dementia training.  What do we hear most often?  Keep it simple and engage the learner!

The question is –  Have we made dementia training to complex?  

Before I go further on the urgent need for more effective dementia training, I want to make note of the other factors that lead to high turnover rates.  Certainly, low wages and high stress in this field leads to burnout rates at a faster rate than other fields.   Research has also pointed to organizations that foster communications and teamwork, and rewarding employees as being a growing factor in lowering turnover and keeping high-quality employees.

Because eldercare is fast becoming about dementia care, dementia training is now front and center on the agenda of virtually every elder care provider and hospital,  and with dementia friendly initiatives, it’s safe to say that if you are NOT prioritizing this urgent need, you will be left far behind in a short period of time.  To support this effort, state and federal mandates are now in place to ensure that staff is better prepared to provide quality care to those living with dementia.

Our workforce is culturally diverse and reaches across several generational groups. The findings revealed human attention span has fallen from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today. Humans now have less of an attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds average). A study by Microsoft revealed that the decrease was seen across all age groups and genders in the study. Those in the age bracket of 18 to 34 had a 31 percent high sustained attention span compared to those age 55 and over at 35 percent.

What does this mean for dementia training?  With a high-turnover, a culturally diverse workforce with decreasing attention spans, we need to be able to train quickly, effectively and provide rewards for those who are using trained skills to improve care.

Here are tips for rethinking your dementia training program:

  • Communication techniques should not be overly complicated.  Simple tools that are effective and feasible to adopt will be integrated much more successfully by staff.
  • Focus on the effects of dementia, and not the disease itself.  Effects include the changes that take place with problem-solving, judgment, sensory changes, memory, mood, language, personality.  Teach techniques with role-playing and team-work rather than listening to a presentation.  Learners who are engaged retain more knowledge.
  • If you are going to teach a new tool,  having the learner go through a like experience will provide them with an inside-out understanding of the person with whom they are caring.
  • Dementia training should include techniques that will reduce stress for both care partners.
  • Think tools.  Does this training provide feasible, effective tools that caregivers can easily reach for (because they have been trained simply and engaged in the training)?  If tools are not part of the training, what they learn will soon be forgotten.
  • Reward employees with benchmark successes.  We all need to nurture care staff far more than most of us are doing!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for culture change and caregivers.  She is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Dementia Live awareness and training program, co-developer of Compassionate Touch and other dementia education programs.  pam@ageucate.com

 

 

Why Competency-Based Training Improves Dementia Care

There is an urgent need to equip caregivers to better respond to and care for persons living with dementia.  Traditional training models have focused on the number of classroom hours an individual must spend in training, assuming that a person who completes the required training hours is ready to work successfully with people living with dementia.  The shift to competency-based training improves dementia care by focusing on mastery of tasks and tools that are learned.

Competency-based learning empowers learners to focus on mastery of valuable skills and knowledge and learn by practicing.  This can be valuable for direct care staff in applying techniques, tools and other skills with other staff and their care receivers.

General benefits of competency-based training include:

  • Greater understanding of learning outcomes by applying skills taught.
  • Increased  retention and higher probability that what is taught will be applied
  • Learners’ improved ability to recognize, manage, and continuously build upon their own competencies and evidence of learning
  • Employers’ improved ability to track competencies and achievements

With growing focus on person-centered practices in dementia care, staff may gain knowledge training, but if it is not applied and practiced, the risk of “losing” the skills increases.  Competency-based training includes assessments on whether a person has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities required to work with individuals with dementia;  understand how to support their dignity and individuality, and can apply his or her training to the unique needs of persons living with dementia.

We face challenges in equipping our workforce to deal with the unique needs of those living with dementia.  As this number increases drastically,  practical, feasible and effective tools for caregivers is urgently needed.  They must be provided with more real-life training before they are asked to help people living with dementia and their families.

Competency-based dementia training should be integrated into every elder care providers’ ongoing training program.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.  Pam is the creator of the internationally recognized Dementia Live® simulation program.

http://www.AGEucate.com

Caregiver Burnout: What to Look for and How to Help

burnout - ngste CLosing sleep, poor eating habits, irritability or short tempered – these symptoms may start small and snowball quickly into what is referred to as caregiver burnout.   Professionals and families need to know what to look for and how to help caregivers.  It’s a serious matter and growing, as more families are caring for their loved ones at home with little or no help.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude – from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.  Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able to do – either physically, emotionally or financially.

Guilt is a huge problem with caregivers, especially those who are caring for someone with dementia or other chronic illness.  As I reflect on my many years caring for my parents, I think guilt was the over riding struggle.  Like most caregivers, I felt guilty when I was not spending time with my parents, and when I was caring for them I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my children and husband.  It was a constant balancing act – and more than often I felt that I was on the low end of the teeter totter.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to symptoms of stress and depression:  They may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and social activities
  • Irritability
  • Altered eating patterns
  • Increased sugar consumption or use of alcohol or drugs
  • Frequent headaches or sudden onset of back pain
  • Impatience
  • Loss of compassion
  • Overreacting to criticism or commonplace accidents
  • Resenting the care recipient and/or situation
  • Wishing to “have the whole thing over with”
  • Feeling trapped
  • High levels of fear and anxiety

Playing the “if only games; saying over and over “if only this would happen; or “if only this hadn’t happened”

It is critically important that senior care professionals understand what to look for when they are talking with families.  Symptoms may start slowly but can quickly snowball into a serious situation. Protecting our older adults from neglect and abuse means a watchful eye and being able to guide families with support and help the need.

A few sources for help and assistance are:

      • Social workers
      • Faith based counselors
      • Family Caregiver Support Groups
      • Area Agencies on Aging (hotline 800-963-5337) (www.n4A.org)
      • Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) (www.alz.org)
      • National Elder Abuse hotline (800-677-1116)

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www.ncea.acl.gov

    )

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and creator Dementia Live™️ experience, helping caregivers worldwide to better understand dementia and aging, transforming professional and family caregiver’s ability to better care for our older adults.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

 

 

 

How Dementia Friendly Communities Can Change Our Attitudes

cityscapeDementia is everyone’s business.  After decades of being relegated to an issue of institutionalism,  the idea that people living with dementia can have a quality of life is a huge step in furthering education, awareness and acceptance for  millions of Americans that are affected by dementia.  The Dementia Friendly Community movement is making great strides in bringing opportunities to change attitudes, actions and our thinking.

People living with dementia and their families should have access to community services such as grocery stores, retail shops, banks, recreation centers and their faith communities without the fear of embarrassment or isolation.  For those who are living alone, we must make services accessible so that they can continue to enjoy a quality of life that is not only safe but engages them with others.

While the “dementia friendly” concept is by all accounts, in its baby steps across most parts of the world, it is nonetheless capturing the attention of policy makers, businesses and consumers.

Allowing people with dementia to live independently for as long as possible means that as a society we must reduce the stigma of dementia and improve how we are educating all levels of society.  This means the check-out person at the local grocery store, pharmacy assistant and bank teller all need to understand how to better communicate and respond to people who are living with cognitive impairment.

The World Alzheimer Report 2015:  The Global Impact of Dementia estimates that there are currently 46.8 million people living with dementia around the world with numbers set to increase to 74.7 million by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050.  There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, which breaks down to one new case every 3 seconds.

The Dementia Friendly Community objectives go beyond seeking safety and well-being for those living with dementia, but empower all members of a community to celebrate the capabilities and honor them as valuable members of the villages, towns and cities where they reside.

Dementia educators and advocates are greatly needed to help people understand dementia and even more, how to better to communicate, respond to their needs and support their families.   It offers communities the ability to take place in making real changes and encourages conversations about what needs to be done locally, nationally and globally to change our attitudes, actions and thinking about dementia.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute.  Their growing network of Master Trainers provides cutting edge aging and dementia education for long term care providers, hospitals, non-profits, higher education and the business community.  

www.AGEucate.com