The number of seniors with dementia is growing, with an estimated 1.4 million Canadians expected to suffer from the disease by 2031. The challenge with these growing numbers is to give each patient the best care possible while protecting other residents in long term care from harm. Many facilities are moving away from an institutional model in favour of something more person-centered and individualized to meet the needs of its patients.
According to a report by W5 on violence in long term care facilities, the growing problem of patients with dementia attacking other patients is on the rise. A model program in Sherbrooke, Saskatchewan, is approaching the problem with communal groupings or “villages”. Groups of 9 or 10 residents live in each house with two staff member assigned to each home. The result of the project has been happier residents with fewer problems and less use of anti-psychotic medications which can lead to confusion, loss of balance and a poorer quality of life.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada is leading the way for a culture change in long term care towards a more relationship-centred approach. Research across six long term care facilities found that flexibility over meal times and smaller group settings improved the residents’ sense of loneliness, boredom and helplessness.
Although most Canadians living with dementia want to stay at home as long as possible, 57 per cent of seniors in residential care settings have a diagnosis of dementia . Creating environments that provide individualized care for the complex needs of people with dementia can help maintain dignity and independence longer.
Long-term care homes and other health providers can download PC P.E.A.R.L.S, information sheets which offer real life examples putting into practice the shift away from the institutional approach to a more home-like model. (Person and Family Engagements, Care, Processes, Environment, Activity and Recreation, Leadership, Staffing)
To learn more about this culture change in dementia and long term care and to download PC P.EA.R.L.S., visit www.alzheimer.ca/culturechange .