“A paradigm shift” were the words of Anne Kelly, Montessori In Ageing & Dementia Care Expert, as she introduced a two day workshop in Exeter recently, writes dementia activist Gina Awad.
I was one of thirty attendees privileged to witness this ground breaking work in action, through a number of video case studies, stories and interactions between enablers and individuals, living with dementia in a care home or community setting. These interactions involved some participants living with advanced dementia and illustrated the results and the ‘how to’ that enabled them to regain a level of independence by participating in tasks or roles to suit their ability.
Example tasks may include; laying the table, pouring drinks, peeling vegetables, watering the garden to name but a few.
“Montessori methods as we know it is traditionally a child-centred educational approach and was developed by Dr Maria Montessori. Three of these practice elements cover the prepared environment, freedom of movement within the classroom and observing the individual child’s innate talents and abilities.
A conversation between Dr Montessori and a psychologist Professor, Dr Cameron Camp recognised the principles could be embraced as a philosophy for Dementia care”.
When combined, the fundamental subjects equate to the need to feel safe, the need to be occupied in meaningful roles and the need for social inclusion and attachment. Collecting biographical details about the person living with dementia will enable the development of their profile and through trialed roles and routines assist the facilitator to uncover the person’s ability to perform a task at their highest level of ability.
The idea is to enhance the person’s quality of life, foster independence and provide a source of meaning and purpose to suit them.
I have come away from the workshop keen to fulfil the Montessori in Ageing & Dementia Care Certificate over the coming months. This will enable me to serve as a facilitator to help others learn about this innovative intervention for older adults and those living with dementia. I will also be competent to develop and implement Montessori environments including activity programs for older people and those people living with dementia in a number of settings. A noteworthy point is that these methods are portable and can be adapted to any setting.
I believe and am inspired to pilot these methods at home in the community and can see how they will not only enable the person living with dementia to remain more independent and empowered for longer but also be pivotal in supporting their care partners. If I can help one family implement these methods then that’s a fantastic start for us all.
This is the second time the workshop has been brought to the UK. Devon Memory Cafe Consortium were instrumental in bringing this workshop to the South West, with 18 Devon Memory Cafes attending the workshop. I applaud them for their desire to consider this innovative work in the Memory Cafes across the county.
Attendees also included; Care home providers, dementia service providers and Exeter University.
* Gina will be on Radio Devon beginning Monday 13 August as she is the ‘Pause For Thought’ guest for the week.