The Best Friends Program at St. George’s

Image how terrifying it is to be diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Often times we as caregivers lose the person we care for in the diagnosis and the bizarre behavioral expressions of the disease. The Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care being implemented amongst St. George’s care staff is a  person centered approach that allows family and caregivers to relate to the person they are providing care to as they would their own Best Friend. This approach to care seeks to maximize the strengths of the person using successful interventions called “Knack”.

As an individual’s Dementia progresses, the Brain loses its ability to function in certain areas but not all at the same time. Since long term memory is one of the last areas to be affected,   Beth Cayce from CaraVita Home Care- an Alzheimer’s specialist- is training St George’s staff to learn more about their resident Best Friend’s Life Story. She helps them discover for each Friend what motivates, relaxes, and stresses them in addition to what daily rituals and past times are familiar.  One example of this might be if they knew their Best Friend would be calmed when frustrated by the outdoors and the vista of a beautiful sunset and its aromas, and then she suggests they provide this opportunity for relaxation not just what is on the schedule.

Beth trains caregivers that often times we must be a care assister rather than a care doer. She emphasizes that   prompts and cues matter more than the task that needs to get done.  Everything is viewed as an activity and care is not so much what you do- but doing it with Knack. This approach adds Joy in the Moment and emphasizes that Life is what happens along the way. The Best Friends Approach to care seeks to reclaim the unique personhood of those we care about and allow them to be successful each and every day.

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