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Bethesda Employees Certified to Train Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach

At Bethesda Senior Living Communities (BSLC), we’re always looking for new ways to help our residents and their families. This year, we’re excited to announce three of our team members have become certified trainers in Teepa Snow’s Positive ApproachTM for dementia care.

“This approach is different from other methods of dementia care because with it, you don’t center your care around what the resident can’t do, you focus on what they can do. Instead of doing for, you’re doing with,” said Michelle Ingerson, Corporate Health Services Director for BSLC and a Teepa Snow-certified trainer.

An example of what this looks like in practice is the hand-under-hand technique. Instead of simply brushing a resident’s hair or teeth, the hand-under-hand technique puts the caregiver’s hand behind the resident’s hand, so the resident feels as though he is performing the action.

“This was a real aha moment for me,” said Ingerson. “Who doesn’t want to be able to brush their hair or teeth for as long as possible? This technique offers supportive care rather than simply doing things for the resident.”

Certified Trainers to Train Caregivers

BSLC currently has three certified trainers—Ingerson, Julie Giancaspro in Fort Worth and Sara Meinking in Kansas City.

Becoming certified in the Positive ApproachTM is an intensive, months-long process that includes online training and testing, a self-assessment, a two-day seminar in which you present a workshop, and ongoing work with a mentor.

The goal for BSLC is that these certified trainers can now train every team member so that all of our caregivers are able to work with our residents with the same level of care.  Training will be piloted in select memory care neighborhoods, then move on to all BSLC assisted living and memory care communities.

“It also helps family members, because instead of constantly trying to figure out why Mom or Dad is doing or not doing something, families will be able to understand where the resident is in their journey,” said Ingerson.

“Better understanding how to approach a loved one makes it a more positive experience for everyone,” she added.

An Approach That Makes Sense

“Teepa Snow’s approach is about trying to find a way to relate to residents on their own level,” said Julie Giancaspro, Memory Care Director in Fort Worth. “When I first started caring for people with Alzheimer’s, I knew I needed to find a way into their world instead of trying to bring them into ours.”

For Giancaspro, as well as everyone else at BSLC, Teepa Snow’s methods for working with Alzheimer’s patients simply made sense.

“I just want our residents to feel like they have a part in their care,” Giancaspro explained. “Even though they might not understand certain things, her approach lets them know they have a choice.”

For example, she said, respect for personal space is important for someone with dementia. When she approaches a resident, she makes sure to sit down on their level and greet them with a friendly tone—so that the residents invite her into their space, and keeps them from feeling threatened or out of control.

Giancaspro concluded, “I see the way our residents respond to these methods, and it’s made a huge difference.”