• Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

    Tag Archives: dementia

    Understanding Complex Needs

    Complex needs are just that – complex. 

    Typically, complex needs means an Individual has a developmental disability and/or a mental health challenge that requires specialized services and programming. 

    Some of the Individuals that Care supports have intensive care needs and serious behavioural challenges.

    What could that look like? 

    • Swearing and the use of derogatory language
    • Shouting, screaming, crying. Sometimes screaming for long periods of time 
    • Self-injurious behaviour such as slapping or punching their own face or head
    • Seizures and/or other complicated medical needs
    • Kicking, slapping, punching, shaking, and grabbing staff, housemates or community members with enough force to cause serious injury
    • Substance seeking behaviour
    • Sexualized behaviours such as masturbation or the use of sexual language 
    • Spitting 
    • Pinching 
    • Repetitive behaviours such as asking questions or repeating the same phrase 
    • Destruction of property
    • Hallucinations, hearing voices and/or other symptoms of mental illness 
    • Flipping or throwing furniture or other objects in the room 
    • Chasing or lunging 
    • Removing clothing in inappropriate settings

    And those are just some examples.

    Why the behaviours?

    That is a complex question.

    Many of the Individuals Care supports suffered trauma in their lives, some very severe, on-going trauma that one never truly recovers from.

    As research has proven, trauma changes the brain.

    When you add to that communication and/or language barriers, physical barriers or limitations, developmental delays, medical diagnosis and/or complications etc., it is hard NOT to become upset and scream or want to lash out.

    That is where Care comes in.

    Care has an in-house Behavioural Supports team that was established approximately two decades ago that has evolved throughout the years to meet the growing needs of the Complex Needs community. 

    What they do:

    • Teach coping strategies
    • Work to understand the function or cause of behaviour
    • Develop and coach staff in carrying out programming needs and support through crisis

    Care also develops specialized education and training to support its employees that provides a better understanding of the Individual’s needs they are supporting and how to manage those behaviours of concern.

    Each Individual has very specific care plans in place that are regularly reviewed to ensure that the proper steps are being taken to identify and replace Behaviours of Concern with Positive, more productive Behaviours. Those plans also include aspects of our organizational Mission.




    Hearing Distressing Voices

    Care prides itself on being able to offer a variety of training courses and resources to help staff members better support Individuals in the Residential, Behavioural and DSL programs. The newest training opportunity being offered is Hearing Distressing Voices. This is a simulation-based training that aims to build empathy and greater understanding of what it is like to live with hearing voices. It is a peer-reviewed approach that will allow the support worker to better understand the experience of someone who hears voices. 

    What’s involved?  The first half of the class talks about mental health and recovery and introduces the class to Pat Deegan, the founder Pat Deegan & Associates and creator of the Hearing Distressing Voices Simulation training. Then, participants will be given a sound file to download to their personal phone. In class, they will be asked to engage in a variety of simple tasks while listening to a simulation that mimics what a person who hears voices might experience. 

    Do you have to work with someone with a mental health challenge to take the course? No, of course not. This course is designed to benefit the general public. 

    Who at Care should take this course?  Anyone interested in understanding the world of the individuals we support a little more. 

    Who’s teaching it? Jen, Care’s Senior Programs Team Lead and Behavioural Specialist. Jen has taken the course herself and has co-facilitated a number of sessions. 

    Care Support Workers, if you’d like to take this training watch Kudos and ShareVision for announcements on times and dates. Classes will occur in both the North and South regions. 

    John Coristine – A Journey Through Care

    We continue our Care Journey series that takes a closer look at caring for a loved one living with a disability and making the decision to find the right supports when the time comes. Thank you Eileen for your contribution to this blog.

    Since 1969, Care Human Services has supported approximately 3000 Individuals and John Coristine has been one of those awesome Individuals for the last 35 (and counting) years.

    John has known us as:

    • The Peace River and District Association for People with Special Needs (1979-1987)
    • The North Peace Community Living Society (1987-2003) 
    • Accredited Supportive Living Society (2003-2006) 
    • Accredited Supportive Living Services Limited (2006-2019) 
    • Care Human Services Ltd. (2019-currently)

    He and his family made the decision for John to receive supports in 1986 when he was 18 to allow him to live more independently with friends and mentoring. John’s sister says her brother was excited to move into an apartment with a roommate. He was also supported in getting a job which was important to him.

    Eileen says their mother made plans for John to receive supports because she felt if he would have stayed at home, he may not have had the independence and self-esteem he is known for.

    You may be familiar with John, he was affectionately known as the Cowboy Guy in Peace River, making friends everywhere he went.

    When it was time to transition John from the Independent Living Supports program, Eileen says John and his family felt like they were a part of the plan which helped everyone start the next chapter in their lives.

    Eileen says the supports her brother received from Care over the years was the stability he needed. There was and continues to be someone always around who understands and helps him day-to-day.

    Did You Know – John represented the region in the Special Olympics!

    Caring for Ralph – A Care Journey

    Thank you to Pat Helle for sharing your family’s journey. Caring for a loved one living with dementia is a difficult road to travel but with supports along the way it is not a journey travelled alone.

    Ralph was born May 14, 1931. We were married July 18, 1963 and had seven children, two boys and five girls. We lost an infant son to jaundice and a boy (13) and a girl (10) to drowning accidents, so we were left with four girls. They have been a real blessing these last nine years for sure.

    When Ralph was eighty, we had an open house birthday party for him with family, friends and neighbours. He was pretty good at that time, but soon after there was a day here and there that there was confusion – not much to begin with, but as time went by, what used to be a poor day was now a good day. Sometimes on a better day he would say, “There’s something wrong with my head. It doesn’t seem to be working right.”

    By the time we reached the third year, the confusion was getting worse and by then he was suffering from sundowners. The girls by now were really noticing a change in their dad and I was so sure that I could manage. I realize now that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    In December 2014, we had a doctor appointment. They asked us to come back after Christmas, which we did. I was reading all the information on dementia I could get my hands on. In January 2015, the doctor said Stone Brook, a brand new ASLS (Care) home, would be a good fit for him.

    On February 26, 2015, Ralph moved into Stone Brook. During the last six months he was home, I spent most of my time crying – so sure that I had failed him in every way, shape and form. By this time, he was very unsure of where he was or who we were. Shortly after he went to Stone Brook, he quit walking and feeding himself.

    The day Ralph went to Stone Brook, there was a girl named Christine working. She was a mentor and trained new staff. On February 26, 2021, Ralph will have been at Stone Brook six years. The first five years have had ups and downs, with Ralph gradually going downhill over time. In January 2020, we lost our dear mentor Christine to cancer. Stone Brook was a very sad place at that time. We lost a real gem.

    Then in March, COVID hit. What a nightmare. To this point, we have avoided any outbreaks; however, quarantine is really hard on seniors.

    I am so happy that Ralph is close to home. I see him every day and give him his dinner. Our girls and their families saw him every chance they got up until COVID hit. I am so thankful to the Alzheimer’s Support Group, past and present Stone Brook Staff, Home Care, and the doctors. Ralph now spends most of his time sleeping, but still has the odd smile and may even use the odd swear word. He still is able to eat pretty well most days.

    The morning I took Ralph to Stone Brook, I promised I would come visit and I have. One gets very attached to the other residents too. They may have forgotten who you are, but you know who they are. Every day in Stone Brook’s Poppy Lane is different, but our time there is very rewarding.

    If you or someone you love is experiencing the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease please reach out to your family doctor for help. More information and available supports can be found at the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories, Alberta Health Services, and MyHealth.Alberta.ca.