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Knowledge and understanding leads to better dementia care

Written by Maryvonne Gray
on August 31, 2022

The first ever graduates of Ryman Healthcare’s dementia care micro-credential have found their ability to care for their residents has been enhanced by their learnings.
The 13 special care workers who recently completed the 16-week Ryman-designed pilot course said they appreciated learning more in-depth information about dementia and the different ways it can affect behaviours in their residents.
The course also emphasised the importance of individualised care, something which Ryman’s Dementia Model of Care is already designed to do.

William Sanders Caregiver Katherine Chen said the comprehensive learning included explanations for why people living with dementia may repeat the same actions or phrases and that in turn helped her to manage how she reacted.
“The most important attribute of the course, I thought, was respecting by understanding, which is especially good for people new to this field,” she said.
“Once we understand the residents, we will know how to take care of them in the best way and help them to maintain their dignity and independence.”
Murray Halberg Caregiver Marielle Daligdig agreed: “Being patient always, speaking with a low tone of voice, slow and calm, and always being respectful is important and reduces agitation.”
Murray Halberg Registered Nurse Karishma Naidu found the training much more in-depth than previous dementia training she had received when completing her nursing qualification, and found it complemented Ryman’s dementia model of care really well.
“First of all, that you treat a resident with dementia as a holistic person, who has needs and feelings and wants to fit into society like the rest of us,” she said.
“Residents who move into Special Care have lost some of their abilities so they struggle with activities of daily living.
“With our focus on strength-based care, we help them to use whatever they’re good at. For example, a resident could be good at singing. So you encourage them to sing which will make them fit in and feel better and able to do things.”
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Activities Coordinator in Special Care at Murray Halberg Reshma Vandhana proudly displays her certificate (above) and (below) with fellow graduates Ravanjit Sidhu and Marielle Daligdig and Karishma Naidu.

IMG_4498 (1) (Large)A key topic the graduates referred to on the course was the ‘reminiscence bump’, which refers to a period in life when people recall the most memories, which usually occurs between the ages of 10 to 30 years.
Knowing this, and being well-informed of the resident’s care plan and personal background, can be integral to all interactions.
“Most of our residents remember events from that time so we try to find things that they like from then, who are the people they love from that time, what society was like then and what kind of music they like,” said Raju Lama, Senior Caregiver at William Sanders.
“If you know that time you can get into a conversation with the resident, or if they like a country music song, I can play them that song. Things like this help to create a sense of belonging.”
William Sanders Special Care Unit Coordinator Snap Venturanza said the micro-credential was more interactive than previous qualifications which meant it was easier to learn from the others on the course about how to put new ideas into practice.
She said most of their residents were in otherwise great health, so the team was always trying to think of ways to keep their residents happy and engaged.
“When you’re training in nursing it’s more about symptom management but in a dementia care setting, when your residents are well, what do you do? How do you keep the residents engaged, busy and happy in their own space?
“If you take away the dementia what would this resident do at home?”
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William Sanders graduates Raju Lama, Snap Venturanza, Katherine Chen and May Magsimo.

Snap says working with the resident’s family members to create an ‘identity map’ gives vital insights into how to provide the best care.
“My take from the whole course is resident identity.
“Creating the identity map is actually really nice, it’s like writing an autobiography, and it gives you an idea of their identity as a person and what they value the most.
“You will have a better idea that Mrs A will get along with Mrs B because they have the same interests in life and that in turn helps them to feel settled, and find that friendship and social engagement.”
The learnings from the micro-credential complemented the Ryman dementia care model that is being introduced across Ryman villages and also showed the benefits of interacting with the wider team for exchanging ideas, Snap said, something that made it easy to recommend the course to others choosing to focus on dementia care.
The graduates can now add a NZQA Certificate in Person-centred Dementia Care (Level 4) (Micro-credential) to their record of achievement.
Ryman’s dementia care specialist Karen Lake said the micro-credential aligned with the company’s comprehensive, bespoke model of person-centred dementia care and provided continuity between practice and learning.
“It helps team members to partner with residents and support them to live their own life to the fullest while experiencing happiness in everyday events and moments.
“I love to hear the comments from our team members, to visit our special care units and to see that this learning translates into everyday practice and is not just a dusty book sitting on a shelf.”

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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