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Barriers to Making Change in Dementia Care

Barriers to Making Change in Dementia Care

Training and education are important ongoing aspects of any professional field, and dementia caregiving is no exception. Dementia care nurses take courses and attend workshops throughout the year to improve their knowledge and skills, but if they run into barriers trying to implement what they have learned, the benefit of learning new skills is diminished.

Late in the second day of the “DementiAbility Methods: The Montessori Way” workshop that we teach, a slide pops up on the screen with the title “What are the barriers?”. That is, what is going to prevent us from implementing all of these great new, dementia specific, ideas that we have learned? All of a sudden the participants become more attentive and in the pause you can hear words such as “more time”, “more money”, “more staff”. In other words, “more resources”.

If resources are a barrier to improving dementia care, and they certainly are, we need to become more resourceful. Rather than just saying we need more of this or more of that, we need to be specific. “More resources” doesn’t give enough information for anyone to be able to help out. Do you need more materials? If so, exactly what material? “More staff”? To do what, specifically? “More money”? To buy materials or hire staff? We’re back to the beginning with no answers.

Here are some ideas that have come out of the challenges and suggestions made in recent workshops. They may not all work for every situation, but they are a good starting point to help move forward.

  • Rather than just asking for monetary donations from the community, make a list of specific materials that are needed. Describe the materials in detail along with where the materials can be found and if appropriate, their approximate cost. Post the list where staff, volunteers and family will see it and ask if anyone has access to the items, can make them or would be willing to donate them. Explain the reason why the material is required and what the benefit will be, in terms that everyone can understand.

    • Rather than asking for monetary dementia donations, ask for specific material that you need and explain why
    • Don't just ask for volunteers - list specific jobs that you need help with, including the time of day, hours needed and special skills that may be helpful
    • Spread the word about your requirements using all means possible - posters, social media, newsletters, community groups, etc

    Often people have things that they would be willing to donate but if they don’t know what you are looking for, they don’t know that you need it. In one recent workshop a participant told the story of talking to a friend in the grocery store about something that she needed for a de mentia activity. Someone standing nearby overheard the conversation and said that he had one and would be happy to donate it. If he hadn’t overheard the conversation, that never would have happened.

  • If you need help in running a program, putting together activities, or some other time consuming task, make a list of the specific jobs that you need help with and if appropriate indicate the time and day that you need help, how long it will take, what special skills might be beneficial and why it is important. Add a spot beside each “job” where people can sign-up for the position. Post the list where people who might be able to help out, such as volunteers and family will see it and ask them to sign up if they are able to help out.

Don’t stop at just posting signs. If your facility has a newsletter, be sure to include the list of materials required and help needed in the newsletter. Put it on your organization’s Facebook page and ask community groups to get the word out that you could use some help. Get together with other staff, volunteers and family and come up with ideas that are suitable for your organization’s situation and requirements and them put them into action!


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