Caregiver Training Making a Difference

     The world of dementia care is constantly evolving, and our goal at Prairie Senior Cottages is to always be at the forefront of discovering new developments. By pursuing the best care practices for individuals living with dementia, and ensuring that our staff has not only up-to-date but continued training, we can best provide a safe, welcoming environment for our residents and staff.

Working Together for Dementia Care

      We are proud to work together with Jane Unzeitig, RN, our dementia care specialist certified in the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) training method developed by world-renowned specialist Teepa Snow ( ). Unzeitig is a seasoned nurse, and has worked with seniors for the majority of her career; the last seven years she has been almost exclusively in memory care. Jane attended an initial talk from Snow, and was mesmerized by the knowledge and positive approach to dementia care that was shared. From there, Unzeitig attended a two-day training in St. Louis, and has since been sharing what she has learned and educating our directors, nurses, and staff at each of our Cottages. Snow’s approach is centered around three things: developing awareness, spreading knowledge, and teaching skills to transform what exits into a more positive dementia care culture.

What Sets Us Apart     

     What makes the PAC trainings different from other forms of healthcare education is that they are hands on. They allow caregivers to experience simulated dementia symptoms as well as to practice methods of care with their coworkers. Additionally, special attention is given to explaining how the brain is physically impacted by dementia, and how that manifests as behaviors and reactions in residents. These tools are invaluable to caregivers. Unzeitig recalled a story in which a caregiver told her that they were planning to put in their notice after really struggling with the job. But, after that caregiver went through the PAC training with Unzeitig, they decided to stay.

Positive Responses

     Christina Hebrink, the director of our Cottage in Willmar ( ), noted that after her staff completed the PAC training, several of them approached her to share things that they had learned during the program that they found interesting. Additionally, Hebrink has observed how the tools her staff learned from the training have been highly effective, promoting a better experience for both staff and residents. Willmar is currently in the process of scheduling a second round of training for their newest staff members. However, other members of the staff that were present for the first training asked Hebrink if they could sign up to do the course again. Says Hebrink, “That tells me they not only learned from the experience but they also enjoyed it so much they wanted to do it a second time.”

     The profound impacts that the PAC trainings have had in our communities continue to amaze us. A dementia diagnosis is a challenging journey, but we have seen so many people flourish by focusing not on the things they have lost, but on the skills that they still have. Helping people living with memory loss to live their lives to the fullest potential is our ultimate goal, and we strive for that at every step along the way.

Caregivers practice using the PAC hand under hand technique while feeding. 

The goggles help our caregivers understand resident’s diminished perception.