Our September 2nd presenter, Erin Beaudoin discussed dementia care on Vancouver Island. Erin is the Executive Director at Eden Gardens in Nanaimo, a long-term care home for people living with dementia.
Eden Gardens was specifically designed to reflect the manner in which one normally lives (i.e., in a community-style setting). It’s organized into “neighbourhoods.” Each neighbourhood includes eleven single rooms, allowing each resident to have a private room. The overall design is dementia-friendly, and very importantly, includes indoor and outdoor spaces for each neighbourhood. Everyone involved with the resident’s care becomes part of that community. This includes family, care-partners, volunteers and even pets. Their mission is to support residents so they can manage their own lives to the best of their abilities and to promote a sense of well-being.
Erin explained there are various types of dementia (Alzheimer’s, Vascular, Frontotemporal, Lewy Body, etc.). Dementia impacts people world-wide. In Canada, we have over half a million people living with dementia, primarily in the elderly population (over age 65).
The picture to the left, comparing the appearance of a healthy brain to one with severe dementia, illustrates the damaging effects of this disease process.
Most of Erin’s presentation focused on the importance of ‘social history’ and personal preferences for people living with dementia. It’s an important part of caring for one another; yet, one that is often minimized in the medical system. Erin shared her philosophy of care and the “seven domains of well being,” included in the link to her slides. She spoke from her heart and expressed the challenges facing both patients and their caregivers with warmth, deep concern, and directness. It’s difficult to adequately express Erin’s level of empathy and personal connection, displayed as we shared experiences in a very interactive question and answer period.
Erin wants us to know we can connect with her personally and has provided both her contact information and two sets of slides. One is the short version she used in her presentation to us and the other is a slightly longer version which would not have given us as much back and forth discussion time. She also left us some Eden Garden Brochures, which we’ll have available at our next general meeting.