Improving Care

According to the BSO, the levels of supports for Canadians with cognitive impairments – a population that is steadily increasing – are often inadequate, or nonexistent. Working closely with a number of Local Integration Health Networks (LHINs) across Ontario, the BSO provides a number of services that offer hands-on training and education to support staff and care partners.

“A lot of the work in each LHIN has focused on things like building relationships, learning strategies, shifting the focus to the person-centered approaches, using continuous quality improvement strategies and creating central service access points, as just a few examples,” explains Hicks.

They are trained to provide the same sort of education and consultation to a caregiver as a staff person might receive.

One core service involves "mobile teams" – a group of specially trained support workers that travel to long-term care facilities and community agencies within their LHIN, providing assistance in dealing with individuals exhibiting responsive behaviours beyond the capacity of the local staff. Other BSO support workers are embedded within long-term care facilities, offering capacity building to staff and providing additional support.

Hickman points out that the BSO experts can be called to assist caregivers directly. “They are trained to provide the same sort of education and consultation to a caregiver as a staff person might receive,” she explains.

Occasionally, an individual with dementia will experience an escalation in responsive behaviour, creating difficulties beyond the scope of the care team.

In response to this problem, the BSO has developed the "behavioural support transition unit" – a distinct unit that offers specialized support to clients for a brief, or even extended period of time. Once the client’s behaviour has stabilized, the unit facilitates the individual’s transition back to their previous place of residence. (To find a unit in your region of Ontario, type Behavioural Supports Ontario into Google, or call your local LHIN.)

As the BSO project expands throughout Ontario, it remains committed to a flexible and versatile strategy that responds to and integrates knowledge from every level of care.


Shifting Focus Guide to Dementia Behaviour

Shifting Focus video series

Richie Assaly is a Toronto-based writer.

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