Dementia expert highlights impact of language on people

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Dr. Sherry Dupuis sheds light on how people with dementia react to certain words

Thursday, April 24, 2014 — Deron Hamel

TORONTO – The language we use when referring to people with dementia directly impacts how the disease and those living with it are perceived. Therefore, we need to think carefully about the words we use.

This was dementia expert Dr. Sherry Dupuis’ message to caregivers attending a panel discussion on quality at the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA)/Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) 2014 Together We Care convention and trade show.

Dupuis, an Alzheimer’s disease and dementia expert at the University of Waterloo, underscored that many people living with cognitive impairment are aware of negative language surrounding their condition – and hearing such language can have a detrimental impact.

Words like disruptive, screamer, wanderer, non-compliant and aggressive cast a light on the disease and not the person affected by it, Dupuis told the audience at the April 1 session. In short, Dupuis says that when these types of words are used to describe people living with dementia, their humanity is taken away. The picture we’re left with is not of a person but of a body to be managed.

“Persons with dementia are very much aware of the implications of this approach on their lives,” Dupuis explained. “The consequences (of using negative language) are profound and harmful in many ways.”

Through her research, Dupuis has heard first-hand from people living with dementia about the frustration they have surrounding language that negatively labels people.

“As one person with dementia said, ‘(People) think I can’t do anything. Until they get used to me (and see) what I can still do, many try to take over. (Caregivers) also give me meaningless activities, like tip over all the pens and pencils on the table, mix them up, and then ask me to sort them. That made me really angry. ‘ “

So what can be done to change the perception of people living with dementia? Dupuis says it all comes down to making simple adjustments to the words people use.

For instance, “hoarding” can become “collecting.” “Wandering” can be “exploring.”  Being “disruptive” can be changed to “communicating.”

“Words, gestures and actions have meaning,” Dupuis says.

The annual OLTCA/ORCA Together We Care convention and trade show, which ran March 31 to April 2, is Canada’s largest gathering of long-term care and retirement home professionals.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.
 
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Hawaiian Day kicks spring into gear

Streamway Villa residents and families enjoy Hawaiian Day.

Streamway Villa residents and families enjoy Hawaiian Day.

Streamway Villa residents participate in a day-long celebration

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 — Lisa Bailey

Bursts of colour and tropical sights, sounds and flavours catapulted Streamway Villa residents, families and staff members into spring recently.

“It’s been a fun day, and I’m sure we’ll have many more,” life enrichment aide Nancy Williams says, noting that Kick In Gear for Spring – Hawaiian Day made a successful return engagement after a three-year hiatus so even more residents and their families could enjoy a taste of the tropics.

The day-long celebration March 31 came as the Cobourg long-term care home completed its accreditation process. The party also provided a welcome boost from the winter doldrums.

“It’s just been a long winter,” Williams says. “We were all ready to just kick back and have some fun.”

There were plenty of things to enjoy, from a fun and fitness program with Calypso music and the distribution of colourful leis, to a Hawaiian-themed meal of ham with pineapple. In the afternoon, a Hawaiian luau unfolded with silk fans, bamboo sticks, hula dancing, uli ulis and entertainer Isabel Tatoiu. Residents played tambourines and maracas. Some of them even put on grass skirts, straw hats and sunglasses and joined a few staff members to try dancing to island music.

“We have a great rhythm band going on here,” Williams says, referring to the beat that residents kept to the infectious music. “Our residents have rhythm, that’s for sure.”

Residents not only had a hand in the celebration itself but they also helped to prepare the home for the day. A number of them assisted Williams in decorating the dining room with all kinds of colourful items that Williams had received from friends. From hanging pineapples to palm trees, the accents put up by the residents and staff helped to set the mood for a joyful day.

The majority of Streamway Villa’s residents participated in Hawaiian Day festivities, along with a number of family and staff members. Williams hopes everyone enjoyed the chance to socialize and experience good times and good memories.

“It was great to see the residents enjoying themselves and the smiles on their faces, and the staff, too, they got into it as well,” Williams says.

“If you see one person smiling, that makes it all worthwhile.”

If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.ca.

LEC excited about former co-op student’s return

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Vi O’Leary touched by Kathleen Furlani’s letter to Frost Manor

Monday, April 7, 2014 — Deron Hamel

When the Frost Manor team received a letter recently from former co-op placement student Kathleen Furlani, announcing her return to the Lindsay long-term care home, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Vi O’Leary was over the moon.

In fact, O’Leary was so happy to hear the news she called the OMNIway to let us know Furlani, who she says was an outstanding co-op student, is planning to return to the home to volunteer for a couple of hours on Thursdays and every other Wednesday.

In fact, Furlani writes that Frost Manor has made an impact on her long-term career plans.

“Frost Manor has really given me a sense of my future goals in my life,” she writes in her letter to the home. “I would like to continue my journey of learning and growth throughout this volunteering experience. Every staff member was very helpful and inviting, which convinced me this is where I should stay to discover and develop more.”

Of note, Furlani says the volunteering duties she’s most excited about are accompanying residents on outings and participating in arts and crafts programs with residents and other volunteers.

O’Leary says she’s looking forward to Furlani’s return to Frost Manor, adding when Furlani was a student she took her placement very seriously and was well liked by residents and staff members.

“She was here because she wanted to be here and she was right into the job right from the get-go,” the LEC says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

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Alzheimer Society develops new info on person-centred care

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PC P.E.A.R.L.S. can be added to programs like Supportive Measures

Monday, February 24, 2014 — Deron Hamel

The Alzheimer Society of Canada has released new information to assist long-term care homes in providing person-centred care. Mary Schulz, education director at the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says the seven PC P.E.A.R.L.S can be introduced to homes in conjunction with already effective tools, including OMNI Health Care’s Supportive Measures program.

PC P.E.A.R.L.S. is an acronym for the seven key elements a recent study by the society found common in six Canadian long-term care homes it researched: person/family engagement, care, processes, environment, activity and recreation, leadership and staffing.

The Alzheimer Society website describes the core principles of PC P.E.A.R.L.S.  and provides strategies long-term care homes can use to ensure each component is fully utilized.

The Alzheimer Society estimates 747,000 Canadians — many of whom live in long-term care homes — have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and the number is expected to climb to 1.4 million by 2031.

In an interview with the OMNIway, Schulz applauds OMNI’s Supportive Measures program as an example of what long-term care providers should be doing to promote person-centred care. Supportive Measures provides personalized interventions for residents affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia that helps alleviate anxiety, agitation and frustration.

Schulz also says that while OMNI and other long-term care providers have long been working to promote person-centred care, there are always new things to learn. Learning new ways to provide person-centred care, she adds, is a “journey” for caregivers.

“I think the first message is ‘good for you,’ ” she says of the Supportive Measures program. “This is obviously not just the flavour of the month; this is the philosophy that we all need to embrace if we’re going to make living in long-term care more meaningful but also to make the work more meaningful and satisfying for staff.

“Don’t stop now; there’s more (long-term care providers) can do and we’re here to help with the very specific strategies,” Schulz says.

Based on the results coming from the long-term care homes using PC P.E.A.R.L.S. principles, even residents in the later stages of dementia are able to be “reached,” Schulz says.

Staff members and families can use elements of PC P.E.A.R.L.S. to better engage residents in a personalized way. The result is that families and staff members can communicate — even nonverbally — to residents with dementia. The trickle-down effect is that families learn new ways to connect with their loved ones.

“Staff feels much more satisfied with their work because they’re not providing care on an assembly line,” Shulz adds. “They’re given the flexibility to say, ‘I think (the resident) needs something different today and I’m going to have the freedom to experiment.’ ”

Click here to read more about the seven PC P.E.A.R.L.S.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

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There’s potential to find dementia cure in next decade: OMNI CEO

Canada is the only country in the G8 without a comprehensive Dementia Strategy.
Patrick McCarthy responds to G8 commitment to cure dementia by 2025
January 14, 2014 — Deron Hamel

OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says the commitment made by G8 health ministers in December to find a cure for dementia by 2025 is not unreasonable, given the progress that has been made into treating other serious conditions.

“I think it has potential,” McCarthy tells the OMNIway, when asked about the probability of finding a dementia cure by 2025.

He adds that research has unearthed many discoveries about Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, which is also promising.

“It has been said in the past that a cure or a treatment is in sight — they’ve isolated several causal effects but haven’t really found ways to deal with that,” McCarthy says. “They have developed medications that help slow the progress and help speed up neuronal transitions.”

There’s another reason to believe that a cure for dementia might not be too far away; the fact that a lot of progress has been made into finding treatments for diseases such as cancer.

Meeting at a G8 conference in London to address the issue of dementia and what can be done to find a cure, health ministers from Canada, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan agreed to create a “dementia envoy” dedicated to promoting research into finding a cure.

The first step to finding a cure for dementia will be to appoint the envoy, who will be tasked with assembling international expertise and obtaining research funding from public and private sectors.

The conference drew attention to the fact that $12 billion worldwide has been spent on research to cure dementia, yet there has been little success in the process.

With the populations of G8 nations aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, the ministers concluded.

McCarthy says he commends the G8 health ministers for their commitment to finding a cure for dementia, adding any inroads that will prevent or manage dementia will have a positive impact on society.

“Because it’s not a disease that’s easy to live with,” he says.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Osteoarthritis expert offers advice to enhance quality of life

Woodland Villa resident Wally Taillon and life enrichment aide Brenda McLaren are seen here in 2011 during a visit to the Cornwall Aquatic Centre. Residents are seeing benefits from the home's aqua-therapy program. (OMNIway archives)

Woodland Villa resident Wally Taillon and life enrichment aide Brenda McLaren are seen here in 2011 during a visit to the Cornwall Aquatic Centre. Residents are seeing benefits from the home’s aqua-therapy program. (OMNIway archives)

Physical activity, not medications, the key to controlling and preventing joint disease

Thursday, January 8, 2014 -- Deron Hamel

A leading researcher who has been studying osteoarthritis for 25 years says physical activity is the No. 1 thing people can do to prevent the degenerative joint disease as well as the best way to treat it.

In an interview with the OMNIway, Dr. Gillian Hawker, chief of medicine at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, notes that people with osteoarthritis, which is common in long-term care home residents, are often prone to depression, anxiety and other mood and physical disorders.

In fact, about one quarter of people who have osteoarthritis have symptoms compatible with depression, Hawker says.

Given the negative impact osteoarthritis can have on elderly people, caregivers need to be aware that physical activity, not medications, is the key to improving quality of life for those with the disease.

“Research shows that the primary approach is not drug-related; it’s a self-management approach,” Hawker tells the OMNIway. “Physical activity, in particular, is extremely effective at improving function, reducing pain and improving mood.”

Hawker suggests that caregivers get people mobile to stave off or prevent osteoarthritis. Simple walking can be an excellent way to stay mobile — and that includes walking with a cane or walker.

For those who are immobile, Hawker suggests a warm pool of water.

“Warm pools are good because the heat is soothing and the buoyancy of water removes the stress of weight-bearing,” she says. “If someone has been really physically inactive for a long time, getting them into a pool is a great way to get them started in physical activity.”

Hawker says walking and pool therapy can show better results in relieving pain than medications, which can have negative side effects, especially in an older population.

“In fact, physical activity, put head to head with Tylenol and anti-inflammatory drugs, et cetera, does just as well if not better in clinical trials,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

G8 health ministers commit to curing dementia by 2025

OMNI administrator shares thoughts on international plan

Thursday, December 12, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The health ministers of the world’s eight largest economies committed on Wednesday to finding a cure for dementia, a condition affecting an estimated 44 million people worldwide, including 500,000 Canadians, by 2025.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

It’s estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have some form of dementia by 2031.

Meeting at a G8 conference in London, U.K. to address the issue of dementia and what can be done to find a cure, health ministers from Canada, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan agreed to create a “dementia envoy” dedicated to promoting research into finding a cure.

The first step to finding a cure for dementia will be to appoint the envoy, who will be tasked with assembling international expertise and obtaining research funding from public and private sectors.

The conference drew attention to the fact that $12 billion worldwide has been spent on research to cure dementia, yet there has been little success in the process.

With the populations of G8 nations aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, the ministers concluded.

Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski sees the impact dementia has on residents and staff members every day. With most long-term care residents affected by some form of cognitive impairment, it’s a condition that needs addressing, she says, adding the G8 health ministers’ commitment is a step in the right direction.

“I think (this is) very positive because they’re focusing on geriatrics and they’re focusing on dementia and the elder population — people are living longer and people are taking better care of their (physical) health, so dementia is only going to become a bigger issue in the future,” she tells the OMNIway.

“The fact that (the G8 health ministers) have set a goal, they’re talking about it and it’s becoming news is important because that’s something that you never would hear before. This is a significant step.”

Canada is the only G8 country without a national dementia strategy. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose noted in an interview with reporters at the conference that to develop a national strategy in Canada, the federal government and provinces will need to collaborate.

Responding to this, Szczebonski says Ontario is advanced in dementia research and that there’s room for the provinces to meet and discuss what they are each doing and then federally implement successes seen in each of the 10 regions.

“This (would be) reflective of what’s working (across Canada),” Szczebonski says.

Szczebonski points to the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program as an example of what’s already working well in dementia care. While not focused on finding a dementia cure, BSO does foster best practices in preventing behavioural responses in people affected by dementia through non-pharmaceutical interventions.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

OMNIway explores sexuality, safety in LTC

Series to unpack issues including rights, risks and regulations

December 11, 2013 — Natalie Hamilton 

In one long-term care home, romantic sparks fly between a man and a woman who live in the same residence.

The man is married to another woman.

In another long-term care home, a man with dementia inadvertently enters the wrong room and starts going through personal belongings.

Men and women living together, coupled with cognitive impairment, can present a host of moral, ethical, safety and security issues.

The OMNIway is taking a closer look at sexuality and safety in long-term care. Through a series of stories, interviews and videos, Axiom News will explore the rights, risks and regulations related to the issue of sexuality and safety.

We’ll provide a glimpse into the realities of people of the opposite sex living together and their inclination to maintain or find new relationships. We’ll look at how those relationships help them maintain the quality of life similar to couples residing elsewhere. The OMNIway will look into the home’s role when a relationship is mutual.

We’ll also explore what happens when the desire is one-sided or an act is triggered by confusion and how OMNI intervenes to keep residents safe.

We’ll look at the supportive measures in place to prevent people with dementia from wandering and how to support those who are confused, while protecting their dignity and maintaining a safe environment for all people who reside in the home.

“Safety and security is our No. 1 priority,” OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

Confusion and wandering as a result of cognitive impairment can occur in long-term care homes and “it’s a behaviour we need to monitor and to take into account when we design and carry out our plan of care for each resident,” McCarthy says.

It’s an issue that is growing as homes receive more residents with complex conditions, such as mental health and dementia-related behavioural challenges.

One of OMNI’s signature core programs is called supportive measures. The program strives to provide an individualized approach to care for residents, with or without dementia. Supportive measures strategies include one-to-one interventions to identify the causes of anxiety and agitation and put processes into place to help residents feel calm and secure in their home.

In addition to supportive measures, OMNI incorporates Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) into its training policies and procedures. BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation.

Stay tuned to the OMNIway for stories unpacking these issues.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.ca or call Axiom News at 800-294-0051.

Study claims singing show tunes may stave off dementia symptoms

“Popular songs help enhance cognition, quality of life for people with dementia, research shows”

November 14, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Musical activities are always popular in long-term care homes, and new research is suggesting that singing — particularly show tunes — can stave off the impact of dementia.

“The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

The results of the study conducted by U.S. researchers indicates that residents who are encouraged to sing show tunes, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and When You Wish Upon a Star, demonstrate improved cognition and enhanced quality of life.

During a four-month period, the scientists studied nine people affected by dementia who regularly sing show tunes at their eastern U.S. long-term care home. The residents are involved with a choir designed by the researchers. The residents were led in a 50-minute chorus of a variety of show tunes three times per week. This is why this is common practice in many care homes similar to Home Care Heroes.

The original choir consisted of 18 residents. The nine residents who did not participate in singing during the course of the study observed those who did. Results between the two groups of residents were compared.

The study indicates that singing show tunes is particularly beneficial to residents with moderate to severe dementia.

Scans on residents involved with the study showed enhanced activity in various regions of the brain; a factor scientists believe is the result of singing songs from The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and Pinocchio.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jane Flinn of George Mason University in Virginia is one of the researchers involved with the study. Based on the study’s results, Flinn recommends long-term care homes consider encouraging residents with cognitive impairment to sing show tunes.

“Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful,” Flinn told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

Click here for more information on the study.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

RPN underscores importance of flu shot

Country Terrace sees 90% vaccination rate

November 5, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

While getting the flu shot is an option for long-term care home residents, there are many benefits to getting vaccinated this time of year, says Country Terrace registered practical nurse (RPN) and infection control lead Brenna Slota.

For starters, the vaccination reduces the chance of a person contracting the flu, which in turn reduces the odds of an outbreak in a long-term care home. The vaccine is also proven to boost the human immune system, says Slota.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older. Creative Commons photo.

Even if you get the flu after having the vaccination, the symptoms will not be as severe because the body has developed a defence from the antibodies in the vaccine, she notes.

This also reduces the risk of pneumonia and hospitalization, the RPN adds.

Once again, OMNI Health Care and its long-term care homes are encouraging residents and staff members to get vaccinated this flu season. As the vaccination campaign is coming to an end at Country Terrace, the Komoka long-term care has had a 90 per cent vaccination success rate, Slota says, adding there are some people — both residents and staff members — who had the flu shot for the first time.

Slota takes time to engage residents and family members about the importance of flu vaccination in keeping people safe at the home. There is also an infection-control awareness week at the home every October and Slota uses this time to educate staff members about the flu shot.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older, she adds.

There may be an added benefit to the flu vaccination for those affected by heart disease, which is common amongst long-term care residents.

In a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers discovered that the flu shot in people who have recently had a heart attack reduces risk of a serious cardiac event by 55 per cent after being vaccinated.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.