Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. Developed by the Alzheimer's Society in the United Kingdom, the Dementia Friends initiative is also under way in the U.S.A. Warm Hearth Village (WHV) recently achieved its goal to become the first dementia friendly business in Virginia. LeadingAge Virginia, the state association of nonprofit providers of aging services, congratulates them on this achievement. “What an incredible accomplishment for Warm Hearth Village, their staff, volunteers, board and residents. This success is a testament to their leadership and the organization’s commitment to those they serve,” says Melissa Andrews, LeadingAge Virginia’s President and CEO.
To receive this recognition, LeadingAge Virginia confirmed that Warm Hearth has met all of the requirements set forth by Dementia Friends, including:
- · Dementia Friends information sessions are included in all new employee orientation sessions
- · 50 percent of the employees have become Dementia Friends
- · All Board Members will become Dementia Friends in July
- · The organization is a third of the way toward a minimum of 50 percent of its Independent Residents becoming Dementia Friends
- · All incoming volunteers are becoming Dementia Friends and 100 percent of existing volunteers will also be Dementia Friends
- · The Senior Management team has become Dementia Friends
- · Dementia Friends information sessions and refresher sessions are added to the annual staff education offerings
- · The education department will review the information annually to assess for changes in information and consider improvements
- · The Continuous Quality Improvement Committee will produce a document highlighting the multiple ways in which Warm Hearth supports employee caregivers and provide that document to the staff.
WHV serves many seniors who are impacted by dementia, and strives to be a community leader in terms of advocacy and resources for those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Part of their advocacy is helping residents and staff better understand and care for those with the disease. Marie Swink, Social Worker at the Kroontje Health Care Center (KHCC) and Dementia Friends Champion, coordinated this effort and defined a dementia friendly community as being “informed, safe, and respectful of individuals with dementia.” Swink added, “Our Dementia Friendly Champions’ next steps are to collaborate with stakeholders in Blacksburg to become a Dementia Friendly town.”
Warm Hearth also offers these support groups:
- · The Memory Café – a safe and welcoming environment for seniors learning to deal with Alzheimer’s Disease is held the last Thursday of every month from 1:30 to 2:30 pm at the Village Center. Laura Peery, Social Worker at the Kroontje Health Care Center (KHCC) and Dementia Friends Champion, is overseeing the group. “Members of the group share experiences and coping mechanisms and offer support to one another, which has proven to be highly effective in helping them maintain normalcy in their day-to-day lives,” she said.
- · Alzheimer’s Association Support Group – held the second and fourth Thursday of every month at 3 pm at Warm Hearth’s Village Center. “This group is a judgement-free space where caregivers can lean on each other for support and gain insight from one another with the hope that they will learn new strategies to help with their loved ones,” said Swink.