• Dementia and Alzheimer’s Training Goes Above and Beyond

    November 19, 2019 | Blog
  • Certified Dementia Practitioners help keep continued education for Paradigm Health staff front and center.

    Paradigm Health CEO Jeff
    Jarecki is firm in his belief that by being an employer of choice you lay the foundation for becoming a provider of choice. The company philosophy commits to support, care and ongoing training for its valued employees which in turn directly corresponds to “above and beyond” caregiving by those employees out and about engaging with patients and their families every day.  

    Paradigm Health CNA Training Class

    Paradigm Health CNA Training Class

    One of the training programs provided quarterly by Paradigm Health for its Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) staff helps them to prepare and understand how to assist and support dementia and Alzheimer’s patients and their families with caregiving best practices —strengthening company commitment to continued education. In 2018 both licensed social worker Kara Alwine and occupational therapist Elsie Hardy became Certified Dementia Practitioners (CDPs) enabling them to take their newly learned knowledge and bring it back to share with Paradigm Health staff and beyond 

    “By gaining the knowledge of how best to care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, we are able to come back and share that knowledge with not only staff members but with the public as well,” shares Alwine. “Every quarter we offer different training to the CNAs which includes how to identify and watch for specific behaviors, communication issues or even how to approach patient aggression and then put into place a caregiving plan that works best for each patient.”  

    Training is adapted and individualized  

    Most important for patients and families is to remember that no matter what stage of dementia or Alzheimers they are in, treating each patient as a human being and figuring out how to communicate effectively at each stage of the disease is crucial. “We want to help our caregiving team learn how to employ techniques that will soothe the patient, explain to the patient what you will be doing and do so slowly and carefully, to speak slowly and calmly, to play music or find a favorite item that provides calmness for the patient who may be nervous. It’s really about being prepared to adapt to each and every patient,” Hardy says.  

    “The training provided at Paradigm Health is unique across the industry and more in-depth than anywhere else I’ve ever worked,” says Paradigm Health CNA team lead Catherine Mangrum. “It really helps us breakdown the barriers we may encounter with dementia or Alzheimer’s patients so that we can better adapt to know how to communicate effectively with each of them.” 

    Paradigm Health takes a fluid and adaptive approach 

    Mangram says recent training included basics that all caregivers should know when caring for a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient. Those included keeping communication simple and focused, always be in listening mode and to be in a solution-based mode of care and to seek help for the patient and their family when it is warranted and needed. “Awareness is a big part of making sure patients have what they need.” 

    Both Hardy and Alwine share that the caregiving process for these patients and their families is adaptive and the approach is always fluid. Both also agree that Paradigm Health is a step ahead of other agencies because the population of dementia and Alzheimers patients is growing and the investment in training staff to understand how to effectively and compassionately meet their needs is so important. “Taking the time needed’ is a mantra at Paradigm,” says Alwine. We always want to make sure that we take the patient’s needs into consideration and take as much time as needed to make sure they are receiving the best care possible and relieve some of the burden on their caregiver as well.” 

    Ask for support and help — resources can provide relief 

    The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners explains that dementia in itself is not a disease but loss of mental function that affects their daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia and some families refer to it as the ‘long goodbye’ and can last anywhere from seven to 20 years which can place a burden on family caregivers over the long haul.  

    “The best advice I can give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with dementia is to not be afraid to ask for help,” Hardy explains. “Caregiver burnout is a real thing.  There are an unlimited amount of resources, people and places that are willing and ready to help you care for your loved ones. There are several community supportgroups for caregivers of individuals  with dementia, as well as many publications and organizations that want to share their knowledge of dementia. Paradigm Health takes pride in caring for each of our patients as our very own family, so I hope those that might be needing support will give us a call. We can help in so many ways.”