By Erin Hudnall, Life Enrichment Coordinator
In the memory support neighborhood within the Suites at Someren Glen, we offer the best support possible to elders with dementia. We are recognized as Leaders in Dementia by the Alzheimer’s Association, which means we continually train each year to remain at the forefront of dementia education.
A year ago, we began partnering with Comfort Matters, a dementia care education and research program created at the Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix, Arizona. Comfort Matters is considered a model of best practices for elders with moderate to advanced dementia.
The Comfort Matters approach has contributed to improving several avenues of care for us. One addition has been the establishment of weekly meetings. During these meetings we share successful interventions, resident histories and just about every issue that comes up in the neighborhood. These meetings have made consistency in care the norm and refusal of care by residents a virtual rarity.
Additionally, based on the Comfort Matters approach, we have decreased anti-psychotic medication and focused more on pain management. Comfort Matters is sharing the evidence-based message that many of the challenging, unmet needs experienced by people with dementia are their way of communicating that they are experiencing some form of pain. The interventions we apply are helping our caregivers understand the sources of pain and respond to alleviate it. As a result, residents are more comfortable and are experiencing a higher quality of life.
One example is we evaluated the noise level of our neighborhood. We cleared the area of all the unnecessary alarms. We’ve found that with a quieter environment fewer people try to leave. We also have peaceful shift changes and sensory sounds or music playing in the background. This produces a more serene environment in which residents feel more calm and secure.
Our partnership with Comfort Matters has transformed the way we approach caregiving in our memory support neighborhood, and the positive impact this has made in the lives of residents there continues to grow as we refine the skills we are learning.