Dementia Training Improves Care Delivery

Research shows that when staff members are trained how to care for residents who have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, they find more satisfaction in their work, they are less likely to leave their positions and they deliver improved care, Randi Chapman, director of state affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association, told those attending a session at the Assisted Living Federation of America annual conference.

“Alzheimer’s disease brings with it a very challenging set of issues–behavioral issues, communication issues, safety issues, you name it. And they’re really unique to those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” she said at the “Dementia Care: What Should It Look Like” session. “So if people with this disease are going to be in your facility, then you’ve got to have staff that know how to deal with it.”

And most likely, your facility houses people with dementia, Chapman said, citing research that one-half to three-fourths of long-term care residents have some kind of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association used to but no longer recommends a specific number of hours for dementia training, preferring instead to measure competency in what was taught, Chapman said. Many states maintain hour requirements for such training, however, she added.

Ideally, Chapman said, training should cover:

•Dementia basics,
•Communication,
•Understanding behaviors,
•Food and hydration,
•Understanding pain,
•Social connections,
•Understanding wandering,
•Falls prevention,
•Restraint-free care and
•End-of-life care.

Patty Barnett Mouton, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the association’s Orange County Chapter in California, advised facilities to use and advocate for policies supporting evidence-based curricula and passionate instructors who have experience caring for residents with dementia. “Instructors…have to really empower and impassion your workers that what they’re doing is doing to make a difference in whether or not somebody lives or dies,” she said.

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