ComForCare & At Your Side Home Care Launch Dementia Training Program

TROY, Mich. (October 4, 2022)—Of the 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, most remain in their homes throughout the progression of the disease. This option can allow greater comfort, familiarity and quality of life compared to institutional care. Although there are benefits to aging at home, research reveals individuals and families dealing with dementia at home face significant disease-related and social challenges; thus, there is an urgent and growing need for more dementia-capable homecare services. In light of the situation, stakeholders—including policymakers, administrators, families and people living with dementia—continuously emphasize interdisciplinary staff training to create a more dementia-capable workforce.
ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care have launched DementiaWise, an innovative occupation-based and team-centered training program designed to help their homecare teams resolve dementia-related challenges. The DementiaWise program is changing the way homecare agencies approach memory care training and client collaboration in the United States and Canada.
A program evaluation study conducted by student and faculty researchers at Duke University Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program and Partnerships for Health found homecare workers who completed the DementiaWise training felt better equipped and empowered to collaboratively care for clients living with dementia and their families (self-efficacy). They had greater job satisfaction compared to teammates who had not yet completed DementiaWise.
Developing a dementia-capable workforce has proven a challenge for the entire health care industry, including homecare agencies. Despite an abundance of proven dementia care strategies and significant time spent in traditional lecture-style training, caregivers of all disciplines still struggle to apply knowledge after the training in real-life situations. Without effective on-the-job training and support, experts warn that well-meaning team members can burn out under the stress of dementia caregiving.
Need for New Workforce Training
ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care, together with partners at Duke University and Partnerships for Health, have turned their attention to an essential design flaw that experts believe has limited traditional dementia care training. Teams often lack opportunities to plan, test, evaluate and reflect as a team on the process of adapting responses to real-world challenges. 
“With that problem in mind, we knew that more hours in traditional training would be inadequate to improve life for our clients, their families, and our homecare teams,” said Stephanie Wierzbicka, manager of strategic health programs for ComForCare.
Innovative Program Design
In DementiaWise, person-centered care is the team’s standard and the goal of their work. There are 12 DementiaWise strategies, which are the team’s tools of the trade, but the new program doesn’t just lecture the information and strategies to learners. Instead, learning is viewed as a dynamic process of problem-solving, reasoning, and reflection on experiences. The video training depicts a caregiver working with her team as they encounter common dementia-related challenges in homecare. The team’s shared challenges help structure content and merge knowledge of the disease, evidence-based care strategies, the client, care environment and the situation into best-practice solutions.
Additional real stories from ComForCare employees in the video exemplify solutions fueled by knowledge of dementia care, creativity and teamwork. In the new program, the team’s success is measured by an expanded ability to tap into learning in novel situations. The program emphasizes a generalizable process of problem-solving, not just dementia-specific content. ComForCare employees are featured as role models—mobilizing the knowledge and expertise in the team and lending practical tips from frontline caregivers, franchise managers, and award-winning occupational therapist and dementia care expert Dr. Heather McKay.
Program Evaluation Results
The research team (McKay in collaboration with students and faculty at Duke Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program) completed a mixed-methods study with positive results across a diverse sample of homecare workers.
DementiaWise training is available on-demand for ComForCare agencies nationwide and Best Life Brands partners.
Visit for more information.
Source: Home Care Magazine 

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