Grandview Lodge in Dunnville is one of only a few long term care facilities in Canada that uses a unique approach to caring for those with dementia.
Staff in the DementiAbility Care Unit are trained in using Montessori principles, which are best known as an educational method for children.
“Maria Montessori said ‘focus on the child’s level of ability,” Gail Elliot, who helped create Grandview’s program said. “With Dementia, you want to focus on what they’re still able to do and that’s why I call it DementiAbility.”
The facility has the look and feel of home for residents. There are also activity-themed rooms such as a garage, office and nursery with dolls to surround residents with familiar settings.
“Tasks that they can do according to what they’re interested in, what they’re able to do that meets their needs and is connected to their previous skills,” Elliot said.
An important element of the program’s success is staff learn about who clients were before Dementia.
“I call it CSI Dementia. Case Specific Investigation. What is it we need to think about with this person. So, who is it, what are your observations, how do we connect these two pieces?” Elliot said. “I’ve seen people that they thought couldn’t talk and we put a doll in her arms and she said, ‘Will you bring her back again sometime?’”
Having memory supports, such as signs which show residents where to go or where to place items, also help them become more independent and improve quality of life. It’s also led to the decreased use of medication.
“This is a non-pharmacological intervention. There is no medication for boredom and loneliness when you think about this approach it makes sense if they’re engaged. They’re not agitated and need to be calmed down,” Elliot said.