Dr. Allen Power to enhance development of integrated dementia support program
By Kristian Partington
For more than five years now, Schlegel villages has been challenging itself as an organization to be a leader in the movement to change the culture of aging in Ontario, Canada and beyond borders. A large part of that effort is focused on rethinking approaches to care and support for those who live with the changing perspectives of dementia.
Some signature programs (most notably the LIVING In My Today education program, Music and Memory and Java Music Club) are now firmly rooted within the villages to help team members, residents, families and volunteers see dementia in a different light. As these programs continue to expand their reach the timing couldn’t be better to embark on an even deeper exploration of shifting attitudes towards dementia support through an exciting new partnership with one of the world’s leading dementia advocates, Dr. Allen Power.
As a physician specializing in geriatric care in Rochester, New York, Al was able to learn first hand how long-term care and assistive care environments have failed older adults living with memory loss, and he continues to dive deeper into global efforts to reshape approaches to dementia care. The author of two highly respected books on the subject, Dementia Beyond Drugs: Changing the Culture of Care and Dementia Beyond Disease: Enhancing Well-Being, Al is one of the key figures at the forefront of the culture change movement in elder care, and he says it’s an exciting time to begin working closely with Schlegel Villages.
“It’s just such a forward-thinking organization and so well-positioned to do great things,” Al says, “not only from the standpoint of their care and support services but from the standpoint of their commitment to culture change and their commitment to research and partnering with research entities to come up with the best practices – it’s kind of a triple threat, dream team kind of thing.”
Al already has a positive history working alongside Schlegel Villages, having presented at various Schlegel events in recent years while offering advice to the support office leadership team in the development of the organization’s dementia care philosophy. This new capacity will simply further entrench Al as “wise counsel in the creation of an integrated and formalized dementia program,” says director of education and program development Jessica Luh Kim.
“LIVING in My Today is our philosophy in an education program,” Jessica points out, “but what we wanted to do is take a deeper look at all the services we are providing, all of the system processes as well, and really consolidate them and formalize them in an integrated program.”
This might involve a deeper look at the physical design of Emma’s neighbourhoods, where those with dementia typically live within the villages, and closer reviews of the way we offer supportive services. “We’ll then create some formalized outcomes to go along with this dementia program,” Jessica adds. “Once we roll it out we will evaluate it to ensure that we are truly enhancing our residents’ living experiences in our villages and their overall well-being.”
Al’s typical good humour shines through as he repeats the term wise counsel. “I think that’s a nice way of saying wise elder,” he says with a laugh, “but I’ll take wise counsel. The hope is that with my background in approaches to dementia and culture change that I can . . . guide them and challenge them to go deeper,” he adds,
“The thought is, really to go through what they’ve done, what they want to do . . . and the hope is that over the course of the next year or two that I can spend some time in all of their various campuses around Ontario and really help spearhead some individual aspirations and projects.
“It’s a great opportunity.”