Social worker says she’s learning more about dementia through her role with BSO team

Social worker Laura Johnstone, pictured above, is working with Riverview Manor’s BSO team.

Laura Johnstone says a greater understanding of the condition can lead to preventing responsive behaviours

Laura Johnstone says the key thing she’s learning in her role as a social worker with the Riverview Manor Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team is the impact dementia has on the Peterborough long-term care home’s residents.

Laura, who completed her social-work degree in October, is working at Riverview Manor until the end of March to help determine the benefits of adding a social worker to BSO teams in long-term care homes. The position was made available with funding from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

“I’m learning so much about dementia … and the different types of dementia. Being a new graduate, I have always wanted to work with seniors and learning about the whole BSO program and what it’s about,” Laura tells The OMNIway.

“I am also learning a lot about dementia in terms of the impact it has on behaviours. I have learned about different approaches, what works, what doesn’t work, and also working with a multidisciplinary team – that has been really important.”

By having a social worker on board, the BSO team is hoping to discover preventative measures to stem responsive behaviours. Laura is working with residents to learn about their lives to better understand them. Quite often, these residents will have shown responsive behaviours, depression or anxiety, she says.

“What we are finding out is that spending time with those residents before they potentially start being followed by BSO, so it (becomes) very much preventative,” Laura says.

BSO is a provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation. The funding, which is provided to long-term care homes through Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks, is largely put towards staff education.

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