Piedmont Crossing Trains to Rethink Care for Those with Dementia

September 11, 2019

Piedmont Crossing, a continuing care retirement community in Thomasville, NC, is pleased to announce the implementation of Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care (PAC). This training model offers care techniques and education that increase the communication between someone with dementia and their caretaker resulting in a positive interaction.

Jan Briggs, health center administrator at Piedmont Crossing and a registered nurse, was eager to find a program that could improve care for those living with dementia. After much research, Briggs determined that Teepa’s PAC was an appropriate fit for Piedmont Crossing. “This program offered exactly what we were looking for - a way to connect with those affected by dementia on a level we have never done before,” stated Briggs. Enthusiastic about bringing this training to Piedmont Crossing, Briggs recently completed the necessary training to become a PAC Trainer, empowering her to educate others about the PAC philosophy, provide dementia related awareness, knowledge, and skill development.

PAC is built around a philosophy of respect. The goal is for the caretaker to gain a greater understanding of the strengths and abilities that the individual still has as the disease progresses, and adapt their approaches and the environment to maximize the individuals’ quality of life. Caretakers respect those they are caring for by being mindful of their mentality, physical abilities, desires, needs and positions. With mutual respect and better communication, the results are less agitation and better outcomes.

“This training is helping us take our care to the next level,” shared, Michelle Cecil, nurse manager and PAC trainer at Piedmont Crossing. “We are moving away from a regimented schedule of care to partnering with our residents to provide care that matches their abilities and desires.”

Cecil described the importance of learning an individual’s routine, habits, likes and dislikes, and their coping mechanisms. “Knowing a few simple likes and dislikes about an individual can make a big difference in how they react. For example, if someone has always showered at night versus early in the day, we should be mindful that they will probably respond better if they are provided the opportunity to bathe later in the day rather than the morning,” explained Cecil.

One of the positive approaches to dementia is to label those with dementia as gems rather than the stage they are at in their journey. Sometimes individuals alternate between gems based on their behaviors.

Cecil believes that recognizing individuals as gems can also serve as a reminder to the caregiver of the person’s value, that they are not defined by the dementia they are facing. For example, emeralds are green and like a traffic light, represent “go.” In PAC, it represents a moderate loss of memory. Emeralds are continuously on the “go” and often ask a lot of questions – who, what, when, where, and how.  

Regardless of what stage an individual is in and what color gem they represent, Cecil believes they need comfort and support above all. “Even if their actions or behaviors are challenging and as a caretaker you feel defeated, it’s important to remember that their reality is altered because of dementia. They may not understand, but they still need our love and support more than ever,” shared Cecil.

Teepa Snow, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is an occupational therapist with 40 years of clinical and academic experience. She is an educator and leading advocate for those living with dementia. Snow’s philosophy and education are reflective of her life-long journey professionally caring for and personally supporting people living with various forms of dementia.

If you would like to learn more about Piedmont Crossing’s effort to improve care for those living with dementia, call 336-472-2017.