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Quesnel long-term care staff complete second unit DementiAbility certification


A closet in a long term care hallway with resources for crafts, hats and signage for seniors
The new dream closet contains engaging activities focused on improving the quality of life for residents living with dementia at the Dunrovin Park Lodge in Quesnel, BC.

Over the past few years, Northern Health has invested many resources working towards training staff in the latest methods of supporting long-term care residents living with dementia. DementiAbility is an important evidenced-based approach, a person-centered approach to care, that staff across the region have been applying in order to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

The DementiAbility team at Dunrovin Park Lodge, in Quesnel, just completed the requirements for certification (meaning successfully applying DementiAbility approaches to the long-term care residents’ living space) for its second facility unit, the Maple House unit. Congrats to the team who led this project: care aides Lindsay Woodruff, Tina Kirkham, Lucia Machado, Cindy Johannesen, and Amber Barks; housekeeper Angie Roberts; and recreation staff Leanne Broughton and Kelly Lautsch.

The Mountain Ash unit was the first to achieve completed DementiAbility unit certification in Northern Health, led by Sayla Renker, recreation assistant. The remaining two units, Jackpine and the Lodge, will be next for certification!

“This is quite an achievement,” says Brenda Miller, Northern Health Regional Educator. “The team has put in a lot of time and effort to complete their second certification.”

How is DementiAbility certification achieved?

Certification revolves around three objectives, including:

  • Creating a supportive physical environment that helps orient residents to their living space. This could include signs (e.g. signs to the dining room, the toilet, or steps required in completing a task), and themed areas to help engage residents in meaningful activities (e.g. activity kits, nursery for doll therapy, puzzle table, art areas, a games area or household chores such as washing dishes, sweeping, and dusting).
  • Creating a tailored, multidisciplinary plan for each person following the “WOW model” to create daily activities that provide meaning in residents’ lives. WOW stands for: 1) Who is and was this person; 2) Observation – what are we seeing; and 3) What are we going to do. 
  • Working as a multidisciplinary team to reach these goals.

DementiAbility projects at Dunrovin Park Lodge

Each fiscal year the team uses a proposal process to manage staff suggestions for DementiAbility projects. Seventy staff members at Dunrovin Park Lodge have completed their DementiAbility training and have begun various project work. Some of the projects already completed for Maple House certification include:

  • Creation of a “DREAM” closet (DementiAbility: Recreational Events and Activities with Meaning) containing activities that staff can use to improve residents’ quality of life, such as music and memory therapy, doll therapy, or murals done on outside patio walls.
  • Renovation of a tub room and acquisition of other supplies.
  • Procuring a donation of a projector and popcorn machine for special movie events.
  • Applying for and receiving a grant from the Quesnel Community Foundation to buy activity kits to distribute to each resident.

Most of the work was completed last spring before the COVID-19 restrictions were in place, and although the pandemic has been challenging, staff have continued to find creative ways to offer engaging activities safely to residents. 

Leanne Broughton, recreation therapist, has watched the roll out of DementiAbility in Maple House over the past few years and has seen the positive impact, providing a greater quality of life for residents who take part in meaningful daily activities. 

“The team in Maple House work hard to meet individual needs and our certification is evidence of that,” says Leanne. “It really is home.”

TerraceView Lodge in Terrace is also working on certification within their long-term care home.