Providing Quality Services for People with Dementia
Champlain LHIN Creates Innovative Partnership
Sept 25, 2017 - Van Lebrun, 69, used to be part of a blues band, but after he was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago, it became difficult for him to continue playing guitar. He and his wife Louise, married for more than 40 years, didn’t want to be separated. But it was a challenging situation because Van required 24-hour supervision.
Louise Lebrun, Van Lebrun and Emma Furfaro
To help keep her husband active and give herself a break, Louise decided to enroll her husband in a LHIN-funded adult day program at the Garbarino Girard Centre for Innovation in Seniors Care, located at Algonquin College in Ottawa.
The Champlain LHIN helped to develop the initiative along with the college and Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, which operates services for people in the west part of the city. Van now attends the six-hour adult day program twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Van came in as a timid, passive gentleman. Once he visited two or three times, he was comfortable and ready to go. He formed friendships with other clients and he would make other clients laugh,” says Emma Furfaro, Adult Day Program Coordinator at the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre. “One day I brought my guitar and started playing and he said, ‘Is it okay if I bring my guitar next week?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely!’ and he brought his guitar. And now, every week, he plays with us at the program and he practices at home.”
The program began in 2016 and receives annual funding of approximately $210,000 from the Champlain LHIN. The benefits to families are significant. In addition to participating in physical and cognitive activities, clients also have the opportunity to engage in conversation during nutritional meals and snack times.
Adult day programs also serve as a welcome break for caregivers. “It’s a 24-hour job, day after day. There is no break. When Van is at the day program, I have time to recoup and recharge my batteries and can care for him longer and therefore he can be at home longer,” explains Louise. “It gives me time for me, whether I will be staying at home and watching a movie, or getting my hair done or shopping for groceries–doesn’t matter, even just laundry. Sometimes I may not do anything. I may just stay home and rest, but at least there is that one day that the load is off your shoulders. It is just quiet and peaceful.”
Jessica Davidson, Algonquin College Student,
and Adult Day Program participants
What’s more, the program provides an enriched educational experience for students in nursing, personal support, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy. Students gain an enriched educational experience that prepares them for future work in a clinical setting.
“For many years, clinical spaces have been a real challenge for educators,” said Marlene Tosh, Chair of Specialty Nursing at Algonquin College. “The adult day program creates opportunities for our students to come and be with clients . . . The students don’t have to wait until the end of their program to experience the clinical environment.”
Korry MacLeod, Team Manager of Community Support Services at Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, says if adult day programs didn’t exist, there would be more caregiver burnout and hospitalization of dementia patients. She also says clients would be institutionalized a lot earlier. “I think for the system as a whole, we are keeping people out of hospitals, keeping them out of the emergency rooms and keeping them in the community longer.”
The Champlain LHIN has implemented and funds 25 adult day programs across the region.
Adult day programs are just one element of a larger Champlain LHIN strategy to improve services for seniors including those with dementia. Assisted-living services, primary-care memory clinics and staffing emergency rooms with geriatric nurses are other specialized LHIN programs making a positive difference to the population.
“Our population is aging and I think it is apparent to almost everyone that traditional approaches to care aren’t going to be sufficient. We need to look at new models and approaches that will respect and allow seniors wishes to stay at home longer,” says Cal Martell, Vice-President of Integration at the Champlain LHIN. “So, these types of initiatives—bringing together the advantages of education, training, academics and research with the level of care and support provided to seniors and their families—can really help inform the development of future models of care that will better sustain and support seniors and their families going forward.”