Archived Story

Pioneer Cottages expand dementia care

Published 11:52am Monday, November 21, 2011

Minnesota providers lead the nation with an innovative new training program to strengthen dementia care for all Minnesotans

Staff at Pioneer Cottages are boosting their ability to care for individuals with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease.

Linda Zimmerman and Heather Nelson recently completed the Dementia Care Certificate Program and earned their certificate of completion — 30 hours of in-depth professional study specifically devoted to providing high quality dementia care.

This first-of-its-kind program was developed by Aging Services of Minnesota in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter and offered for the first time in 2011.

“Specialized dementia care has been an integral piece of PioneerCare’s spectrum of services since well before the first of our Pioneer Cottages was built. We’re proud of our staff for positioning themselves as leaders in their field,” said John Richards, Chief Executive Officer for PioneerCare.

More than 100,000 Minnesotans are currently living with some form of dementia, and that number is increasing.

The Dementia Care Certificate Program is believed to be the first in the nation to pair direct care providers with the Alzheimer’s Association and leading researchers and practitioners in the field of dementia care.

As a result of this specialized approach to training, caregivers will be better able to read and interpret complex behavior signals, more effectively manage living spaces and environments and expand their ability to engage in quality, meaningful interaction with individuals along the full spectrum of dementia diagnoses.

The first year of the Dementia Care Certificate program was an incredible success — approximately 225 individual caregivers from all over the state participated in the training. They include professionals in a wide variety of roles, including direct caregivers, dementia program directors, directors of nursing, social workers, activities coordinators, housing managers and administrators. Participants also represent a wide variety of aging services settings — including home care, adult day care, assisted living/housing-with-services and care centers.

Topics addressed by the Dementia Care Certificate Program include:

• Dementia Basics and Practical Approaches to Disease Symptoms (managing challenging behaviors)

• The Art of Engagement: Practical Approaches to Activities for all Stages of Dementia

• Exploring the Correlation Between Depression and Dementia

• Organizational Philosophy of Caring and Its Impact on Dementia Care

• The Appropriate Use of Medication in Dementia Care

• Partners in Dementia Care: Supporting Caregivers and Partners (or others)

• The Role of the Environment in Promoting Quality Dementia Care

• The Legal Aspects of Decision-Making for Persons with Dementia

• End-of-Life Care for Persons with Dementia

• Practical Approaches to Activities for all Stages of Dementia

The Dementia Care Certificate Program is one example of how Minnesota providers and caregivers are proactively leading the charge to build new skills and greater capacity to deal with this growing public health challenge.

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