“One of the biggest fallacies we have is that Dementia=Alzheimers=memory problems. We can get rid of that right now,” Teepa Snow, a nationally recognized expert in Dementia training, told a caregiver gathering last year, “Dementia= brain failure and as long as we think ‘memory problems’ we’re denying the devastation that someone with dementia has to live through.” Snow’s popular dementia training sessions draw audiences throughout the nation. With A Little Help’s caregivers have attended and received her training certification during her several trips to the Seattle area. In April, With A Little Help brought Snow to Seattle once again where she conducted 2 sessions in a day long workshop of state approved training for caregivers, social workers and RN’s.
Washington law mandates that all caregivers must complete 12 hours of state pre-approved training annually. Additionally anyone entering the field of home care now completes 75 hours of orientation training. “Caregivers face drastically differing physical, cognitive, and social challenges as they work with different clients,” explained With A Little Help human relations specialist, Eric Borud. “Providing quality training helps our caregivers build the skills and confidence necessary to provide the best quality care. It also means our caregivers are better prepared to work with a broader variety of clients and helps ensure the work we do is as safe as possible for the caregiver and client.” In addition to offering local approved continuing education opportunities, like Teepa Snow’s sessions, With A Little help supports caregivers by sponsoring online access to state approved training modules.
Though training is mandated by law now, With A Little Help has always placed emphasis on improving caregiver’s skills. Expert speakers attended annual gatherings to help caregivers understand Parkinson’s, Hospice, Dementia, and other caregiving interests. In 2010 and 2011 With A Little Help provided in house continuing education to support a strong understanding of safe transfers, nutritional meal preparation and care during summer months among other commonly encountered caregiver concerns. Mary Reynolds, who taught and conceptualized that training said, “Care of the senior population is constantly evolving. Training in the most current changes and procedures is of utmost importance to continue the quality of care that With A Little Help provides.”
Mastering skills to safely address physical needs or strategies to support mental health is only part of being an excellent caregiver. Effectiveness in many caregiving environments, especially where dementia is involved, requires more. “You need to see the person behind the dementia and quit getting lost in the dementia,” Snow warns a group of caregivers in one of several you tube videos recording her trainings. Her interactive sessions demand that caregivers exercise understanding and experience how it feels to live with and communicate with dementia. Her training is unique because, as an advocate for people experiencing dementia, she introduces the interpersonal dynamics of helping and asks caregivers to see their part in what appears as difficult or hard to understand behaviors that they may encounter in some forms of dementia. “She helps you to see how you can change your behavior,” explained long time With A Little Help caregiver, Linda, “ versus wanting the client to change their behavior.”
Teepa Snow will return to the Northwest in late October to attend an Area on Aging conference in Vancouver, Washington. Snow has 30 years of experience as an occupational therapist. She’s taught about dementia care and understanding in academic settings and helped design and implement clinical research. She was the Educational Director for eastern North Carolina’s Alzheimer’s Association chapter. She contributed to a DVD used internationally for teaching and is the author of a new book on dementia care.