Winchester – When caring for residents with dementia, we ask many questions: what do they understand? what causes them to become upset? what makes life more enjoyable? Personal Support Workers (PSW) Jeannie Barkley and Heather Cronin are helping their colleagues find answers to these types of questions – and helping to provide better care for our residents.
Additional provincial funding has allowed Jeannie and Heather to take additional training to learn more about dementia and other behavioural challenges. As champions, they are sharing their expertise with co-workers. “We spend one-on-one time with residents, learning more details about their lives and how the disease is affecting their understanding of their care,” explains Heather. “That information is then shared with the entire care team. The program benefits everyone.”
“This is their home,” adds Jeannie. “We want to help alleviate their stress and meet their needs.”
It’s all about understanding the disease, being patient and accepting who the person is in the moment. “The person can’t change. We must do the changing and often the simplest things can make a difference,” says Heather.
Jeannie and Heather share examples of residents who exhibit behaviours of agitation, aggression or wandering. By learning more about their history and what causes them stress, plans can be put in place to help. It can be as simple as reducing noise levels in certain rooms or putting safety supports in place for a resident who wants to walk up and down the hallways.
The team also support families, learning about their concerns as well as hopes for their loved ones. “It’s very rewarding to know we can make a difference and make things better for a resident,” notes Jeannie.
“I strongly support this program in long-term care,” sums up Administrator Susan Poirier. “The additional one-on-one support is so important to enhance the lives of our residents living with dementia and to support their families and our staff.