The care of people with dementia is considered an urgent public-health issue as nearly 30 per cent of older Canadians will have dementia by 2031. In 2008, 55 per cent of Canadians with dementia lived at home – a number projected to increase to 62 per cent by 2038.
Delivering proper care to the thousands living with dementia means personal-support workers must understand more than patients’ medical histories – they need to know the people behind them. Ongoing research from Western University’s Marie Savundranayagam hopes to provide one avenue toward that goal.
“The focus is to train front-line staff to be person-centered in their communication, to know their client’s life history, their social history, who they like, who they don’t like, what their food preferences are – and then incorporate that information in the care,” said Savundranayagam, who worked on the project along with colleagues at the Sam Katz Community Health and Aging Research Unit at Western.
This patient-caregiver relationship is bolstered through what Savundranayagam calls Be EPIC, a training program to provide personal-support workers with the skills necessary to better deal with people living with dementia.
Earlier funding from the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation to assess the initiative has since been enhanced with a $418,717 grant, over two years, from the Future Skills Centre to scale-up the training program. Now, 48 personal-support workers in both an urban (London) and rural (Northumberland County) settings are part of initiative.
For more information, visit Western University.