Connecting on a Deeper Level

In 2015, Bow Valley College and the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta began collaborating on an initiative titled “Connecting with People with Dementia: A Knowledge Translation Project.” The aim was to examine how Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Health Care Aides (HCAs) could connect with people living with dementia on a deeper, more personal level — something that, in turn, makes physical caregiving easier. 

The project identified six key concepts, or actions, that can help to improve relationships with people with dementia: respect, include, engage, listen, value and reflect. The concepts came from an extensive literature search during the research phase of the project, followed by interviews with LPNs and HCAs in Calgary who then applied the actions and highlighted their positive impact.   

Though the research project itself is now complete, its concepts continue to be highlighted via a two-sided pocket card that details the six “Connect” words. Nurses or health care aides — or anyone caring for someone with dementia — can pull this card out of their pocket and be reminded of how to best connect with an individual. (Currently, the pocket cards are distributed when the project material is presented formally, but Bow Valley College is looking into other distribution methods.)  

According to Nora MacLachlan, the Dean of Bow Valley College’s School of Health and Wellness, the cards help to provide a greater level of care. “With these concepts, care can be person-centred and holistic,” says MacLachlan.  [ ]