There is a popular Montessori quote that says, “Everything you do for me, you take away from me.” This is not only true in the traditional Montessori educational arena for children — it is also true of persons suffering from dementia. Independence, or lack thereof, deeply affects a person’s feelings of self-worth and purpose.

Wesley Place on Honeysuckle, a senior living community in Dothan, AL, is sponsoring the cost of Montessori Dementia Program training for each of its seven household and neighborhood quality of life leaders, the individuals responsible for planning and directing the community’s activities. With four distinct areas devoted to the care of people suffering from dementia, it is no surprise that Wesley Place on Honeysuckle is investing in their associates to become certified dementia care specialists.

“We need our associates to wrap their minds around why we do the things we do,” said Patrick Davies, Executive Director of Wesley Place on Honeysuckle. “We have to understand how our actions impact our residents.”

As of the date of this article, five of the seven quality of life leaders have already completed the training, with the last two expected to finish the course in short order to become certified. The first quality of life leader at Wesley Place on Honeysuckle to receive her certificate was Stephanie Engelsen, who is also the community’s life enrichment mentor.

“They wanted me to be the first to take the training because of my dual role,” said Stephanie. “I spent four years as the community’s activities director before activities were integrated into the culture of care during our conversion to the household model of care a few years ago.”

In the household model, teams of residents and caregivers function much like a family, and therefore some of the activities are planned, while other activities develop spontaneously and organically, just as they do in a family setting. As each quality of life leader becomes certified, associates will be able to find new ways to give back to the residents the capability to do things for themselves.

“The Montessori method is about empowering our residents,” Stephanie said. “They are not here to be pushed aside. They can still maintain independence and do the things they’ve always done with a little help.”

In such a highly regulated industry, it is common for nursing home staff members to be hesitant to let residents do things for themselves as they worry about safety and regulations. But Stephanie explains that with the right amount of training and supervision, there are many things that people can return to doing that they once enjoyed doing before dementia.

“The program reminds us that just as we have everyday tasks, the resident does also. Suppose a resident wants to participate in household meal preparation, like chopping vegetables. You can institute a training program to enable them to use the tools safely, and document the training verifying that residents have relearned and are safe.” Stephanie explains, “We break down the skills to perform the task into a series of re-learnable skills that were once familiar. Residents can go back to doing things they used to enjoy.”

Pictured above are the Household Quality of Life Leaders: Patrick Turner (Sanders 1), Stephanie Engelson (South 2), Shada Mathis (Martin 1), Cathy Scott (South 1), Kate Franklin (Sanders 2), Mollie Adkison (Rehab Inn), Felicia Walker (Martin 2)

For more information about dementia services at Wesley Place on Honeysuckle, contact our admissions team at 334-792-0921.

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