Education is Vital in the Care of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Staff Education Week took place earlier in the month of February, designed to increase awareness of the importance of giving comprehensive dementia education to all staff and healthcare professionals working with these patients. Many Alzheimer’s patients are a part of our hospice care program in San Francisco and elsewhere, and we take education very seriously to ensure our patients and their families get the best dementia care possible.
When searching around for the best hospice care service for your loved one with dementia, you must do exhaustive research to ensure the caregivers within the company are highly trained and educated in Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory care. Here are some considerations to think about during your search to ensure the caregiver you choose is the most qualified for your loved one’s needs.
It’s best if you get a referral to the hospice provider from someone you know. But if you don’t know anyone who has recently gone through this, reach out to trusted doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. Get recommendations from geriatric care managers, too, as they often refer clients to hospice care providers and receive feedback about the care their patients have received, says DailyCaring.
It’s best to meet in person with the Alzheimer’s caregivers you are researching. Take notes on services and facts they provide, but even more importantly, jot down your first impressions of each so you can refer to those notes later. It can be chaotic and confusing when you first meet with hospice care providers, so taking notes will help you later when you have cleared your head. First impressions matter, so listen to your gut and make a balanced choice between facts and feelings.
You want to make sure the company you choose has caregivers on staff who are specifically trained in dementia care. The hospice team will have to evaluate the Alzheimer’s patient’s status and provide updates on the care plan as conditions and symptoms change. This may even be necessary on a daily basis. You want to ensure that the hospice team in charge of your loved one is on the ball, evaluating the patient on a daily to ensure the most appropriate level of care.
Not every caregiver is trained in dementia care. This is a specialty subset of the industry and caregivers must undergo certain training. The hospice program you select should offer comprehensive services for families and patients with dementia:
- Individualized care plan – As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, patients won’t be able to express their needs in the same way. The hospice care team should have a plan in place to address pain, hydration, skin care, nutrition, recurrent infections, and agitation, which are all common problems that are associated with this disease.
- Care for patients in their homes – The hospice care team should be mobile — meaning they will visit the patient wherever they are most comfortable. This could be their home, a long-term care facility, or an assisted living community. Once symptoms become harder to manage in the home, inpatient hospice services should be available that will offer 24/7 care.
- Coordinated care at all levels – The hospice team should develop and put into action a detailed plan of care based on the advice and approval of the patient’s primary care physician or neurologist. A team manager should ensure proper facilitation of the plan at all stages as well as seamless communication between doctors, nurses, social workers, and even clergy if need be.
- Family caregiver education and training – When the hospice caregiver can’t be there, it’s important for the family caregivers to be kept in the loop so they can provide an adequate level of support for their loved one. As symptoms progress and communication becomes difficult, the hospice care team should educate the family on how best to provide care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. They can also assist them with making difficult choices that come with hospice care and that impact the patient’s quality of life.
Hospice caregivers should:
- Possess a deep knowledge of all stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Manage changes in communication and behavior
- Offer tips for personal care and hygiene
- Provide home safety tips
- Provide fall prevention strategies
- Manage medication
- Manage financial and legal issues
- Provide guidance with emergency procedures
Asking all the right questions is key in deciding on the best hospice care provider skilled in Alzheimer’s and dementia. Rest assured, Pathways Home Health and Hospice works closely with the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) for accreditation and quality assurance. We have been serving this community for more than 40 years!
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We take the education of our staff very seriously here at Pathways to ensure your loved one and your whole family gets the most focused care possible. Ask more questions about our level of care when you contact us at 888-978-1306.