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March 9, 2005
Study celebrates "creating a sense of place that feels like home"
  
In excerpts from a Reader’s Theatre presentation at today’s meeting of the
Community Services Committee, Dr. Maura McIntyre shared some important insights
into the issues and realities of providing long-term care to persons with
dementia. This presentation, entitled "RESPECT," also demonstrated the
excellent dementia care provided at Castleview Wychwood Towers, the
City-operated home for the aged which served as the host for this research
project.

Dr. McIntyre, a researcher associated with the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education with the University of Toronto, conducted a year-long research study
to provide a window into life in a long-term care home in a large urban setting
that serves people with dementia. The goal of the study, which was conducted in
2003, was to better understand how staff contribute to a home-like setting, to
gain insight into the complex social interactions between staff, residents with
dementia and their families and friends, and to contribute to the current
limited knowledge about effective dementia care, with the objective of making
improvements.

Dr. McIntyre observed and documented high quality care and positive
interactions and saw staff’s commitment to the principles of respecting,
supporting and enabling residents to be the best they can be. She saw residents
being treated with dignity and being supported to make choices within the
limitations of their cognitive impairment. She saw families being supported and
assisted through their guilt and sadness.

She noted that the staff at Castleview Wychwood Towers "create a sense of place
that feels like home on one floor of a very large institution." She also found
that "home is a feeling created by people," and commented on the extraordinary
richness of the people who work in Toronto Homes for the Aged. The research
also outlined some issues with families coping with guilt or non-acceptance of
their relative’s limitations; staff burnout because there are "simply not
enough hands on deck"; and the need for staff to re-energize.

Dr. McIntyre has made a series of recommendations for ways to enhance care for
persons with dementia along three themes. First, she recommends steps to better
inform the public about the excellence in the City’s homes and to educate about
effective long-term care. The second theme is to help families who are
struggling with feelings of guilt, failure, loss and non-acceptance, focusing
on ways to make them more "part of the home’s community." The final set of
recommendations focus on sharing the expertise of City of Toronto staff with
other organizations, to contribute to overall system improvement and to provide
opportunities for renewal and recognition for staff who do an excellent job in
very demanding work each day.

Dr. McIntosh’s research and her presentation, "RESPECT," provide a cutting edge
look at what is possible for providing long-term care for persons with
dementia, and the lessons she shares will be valuable to long-term care
organizations across Canada. "RESPECT" has already been presented in a number
of long-term care and professional venues both in Ontario and in other
provinces.

"I am proud to know that Toronto Homes for the Aged played such a key role in
this vital research," said Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair of the Community
Services Committee. "By supporting and being involved in this project, we have
been able to highlight the innovations we are already practising, have learned
new areas for innovation to consider, and have a unique opportunity to share
this knowledge with our counterparts across the country. To me, that’s what
municipal leadership is all about."


Media Contacts:
Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair, Community Services Committee,
416-392-4044

Sandra Pitters, General Manager, Toronto Homes for the Aged,
416-392-8909



 

 

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