Tennessee Grant Project Focuses on Building Meaningful Relationships with Those Who Live with Dementia

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A new Tennessee grant project focuses on how the nature of our relationships with those who live with dementia directly affects the quality of dementia care. Through this funding, the Tennessee Eden Alternative Coalition will help nursing homes gain the skills needed to eliminate loneliness, helplessness, and boredom for those living with dementia, which in turn helps reduce the overuse of antipsychotic medications.

“This isn’t just soft science. Recent research has affirmed that, gone unchecked, a lack of meaningful engagement with others can have serious, measurable impacts on overall health.”

Tennessee nursing homes have the opportunity to actively engage employee teams in eliminating loneliness, helplessness, and boredom for those who live with dementia. Skills learned through a new Tennessee-based grant project called Reframing Dementia: Train the Change Agent will also strengthen goals to reduce nursing home use of antipsychotics in the state. To launch the new project, the Tennessee Eden Alternative Coalition (TEAC), in collaboration with The Eden Alternative, is seeking up to 80 Medicare and/or Medicaid participating nursing homes in Tennessee that are inspired to make a difference in the lives of those who live with dementia.

The highlight of this educational project is the provision of a training kit called Reframing Dementia, developed by The Eden Alternative. This training explores the art of building meaningful relationships as the fundamental building block for person-directed dementia care. Participants gain a powerful appreciation for the role of sensitivity, awareness, and presence in identifying the needs of those living with dementia in long-term care communities. By focusing on observation, communication, and interpersonal skills needed to identify the unmet needs of people living with dementia, Reframing Dementia prepares employees, family members, and volunteers to tune into signs of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom and respond compassionately and effectively.

“Through practical tools, participants learn how to apply a set of ‘antidotes’ to these three deadly plagues of the human spirit,” says Chris Perna, CEO of The Eden Alternative. “This isn’t just soft science. Recent research has affirmed that, gone unchecked, a lack of meaningful engagement with others can have serious, measurable impacts on overall health.”

Funds from the Tennessee Department of Health and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will make it possible for participating nursing homes to engage “change agent teams” composed of 4 highly motivated employees. Change agent teams will attend a 1-day “Train the Change Agent” event, where they will receive one Reframing Dementia Training Kit and specific skills and resources showing how to put these materials to work back in their organizations.

“This is another powerful tool for our quest to end the overuse of antipsychotics for those who live with dementia. We highly recommend that state nursing homes take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference, not just within their organizations, but for the State of Tennessee,” says Debbie Meredith, Board Chair for the TEAC.

“The Reframing Dementia Training Kit will give state nursing homes the chance to build capacity, by providing a tool that gets these vital skills directly into the hands of many employees, as well as family members," says Meredith. "It will inspire and empower organizations that are new to person-directed care, as well as deepen the efforts of those who continue to strive for positive change.”

Project is space is limited. To learn more about participation and registration, go to: https://2DFF35.campgn4.com/ReframingDementiaTraintheChangeAgent

About the Tennessee Eden Alternative Coalition (TEAC)
Civil monetary penalty (CMP) funds for this project have been awarded to the Tennessee Eden Alternative Coaltion, a 501(c)3 organization, whose mission is to champion and grow person-directed care across the healthcare continuum through collaboration, education, and empowerment in Tennessee.

About The Eden Alternative
The Eden Alternative, is a 22-year old, international non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating quality of life for Elders and their care partners, wherever they may live, through education, consultation, and outreach. The Eden Alternative achieves its mission by advocating for person-directed care, which is structured around the unique needs, preferences, and desires of the individual. Through this approach, decisions, and actions around care honor the voices and choices of those accepting care and the people closest to them.

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