Teepa Snow TeachingIt starts with the touch of your hand.  One of the hallmarks of the Positive Approach to Care™ taught by Teepa Snow, one of America’s leading educators on dementia, is the Hand-Under-Hand™ technique of connecting physically with an individual living with dementia. With thumbs interlocked, established nerve pathways in the hand are engaged, and by holding hands in this manner while helping to dress or feed, or guide the individual, the caregiver allows him or her to still feel in control and subtly connect eye-hand skills.

As yet another step is taken down the path of developing world-class memory care services at Plymouth Harbor, Brandi Burgess, the Smith Care Center’s social services coordinator, has undergone extensive training in the Positive Approach to Care™ (PAC) toward certification as a PAC trainer.  The rigorous process included hours of online classes, training videos, periodic testing to pass on to upper level learning modules.

At one critical point in her training during an 8-hour intensive on site at the Pines of Sarasota, Teepa Snow herself was coaching Brandi on how to hold a resident’s hand using the Hand-Under-Hand technique to help them stand up.

“It was inspiring,” Brandi said about learning from this pioneering advocate for those living with dementia. Teepa has made it her personal mission to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with the challenges and changes that accompany various forms of dementia so that life can be lived fully and well.

Her philosophy is reflective of her education, work experience, available medical research, and first hand caregiving interactions. Working as a Registered Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, Teepa’s wealth of experience has led her to develop  Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) techniques and training models that now are used by families and professionals working or living with dementia throughout the world.

Challenged to describe the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) in one sentence, Brandi gamely responded, “The core philosophy of PAC is to recognize and celebrate the strengths that remain at each stage of dementia and learn how we can continue to connect with the individual in a meaningful way.”

Of course, there are many layers of understanding in the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) and Brandi was challenged in many other ways as she worked to earn her certification. Guided by a PAC mentor, she proved her proficiency with various techniques by videotaping herself working directly with residents. At the end of the full day intensive she had to develop and present an in-service training. On another occasion, she videotaped a training session she conducted for colleagues in the Smith Care Center in order to satisfy the program requirements.

On December 4, Teepa Snow’s team at Positive Approach officially notified Brandi that she has passed all program requirements and was now a certified PAC™ trainer.

Now it’s time for the real work to begin!  Brandi is now responsible for the ambitious goal of providing Positive Approach training for all staff at Plymouth Harbor.  All clinical staff, between 60 and 70 individuals, will receive two full, 8 hour days of training which will start in March 2015.  Limiting the classes to 24 students, Brandi will be conducting three separate waves of the two-class series. That’s six full days of teaching!

Next, Brandi will train all staff that have direct contact with residents in the Smith Care Center and the Callahan Center. Direct contact staff will receive one full day of Positive Approach Care™ training.

Finally, all other employees, from dining staff to security and all levels of management, will benefit from a two-hour introduction and basic skills training in Positive Approach Care™.

It sounds exhaustive, but we are developing a culture of world-class care for our residents of all cognitive abilities. Teepa Snow will be visiting Plymouth Harbor on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Residents are invited to an afternoon session with Teepa from 1:00 — 2:30 pm in Pilgrim Hall. The program is titled, It’s All in the Approach: Learning to Care, Live, and Laugh During the Stages of Dementia.  

Registration is required. Please call (941) 361-7252 to register. If you care to bring your loved one, please register them, as we will also host a separate supervised interactive Drum Circle for persons with dementia during the presentation, followed by refreshments.