Our Commitment to Dementia Care
There is one vital principle that supports and enhances dementia care at St. Ann’s.
It is more than a vague concept or a buzzword; it is equally important and unique, particularly for the residents who live in the dementia care units here, and for their relatives and friends.
“Spiritual care for people with dementia involves reflective practice and meaningful engagement with the person with dementia, so as to facilitate shared understanding,” said researchers Louise Daly and Elizabeth Fahey-McCarthy (2014).
We cannot agree more.
This intense focus is intrinsic to the history and life of St. Ann’s, founded and operated by the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus (DCJ). For more than 60 years, The Sisters have challenged the entire care team to see each resident as a devout, faithful, and spiritual individual, a commitment fundamental to the Carmelite mission.
Moreover, we suggest that one’s journey with faith does not fundamentally change with the onset of dementia, but grows in a new direction. As researcher David Jolley writes, “The spiritual needs of people with dementia are broadly the same as for people without the illness, but there are important contextual factors that need to be borne in mind,” (Jolley, 2011).
We recognize how important this is, and incorporate it into our personalized dementia care plans that allow residents to maintain and grow their own faith routines.
Personal Care Plans
Each person’s experience with dementia is different. Knowing this, we develop detailed personal care plans for each resident, embracing the nuances in them to provide the most fulfilling experience possible.
We focus on understanding the dementia process, developing relationships with our residents who live in the Nursing and Assisted Living dementia care units, and designing holistic care plans that meet their individual needs.
Our dementia care is centered around the following principles:
- Balanced clinical structure
- Appropriate personal freedoms
- Meaningful activities and interactions with fellow residents and staff
- Spiritual growth opportunities
Throughout the pandemic, we continued to focus on the nuances of dementia and its care and remained steadfast in our mission to provide high-quality care for everyone while paying extra attention to safety. We hope you remember that our doors, our experience, and our expertise are lovingly open for you as you look to the future of your family’s needs.
We celebrate the fact that our dementia care principles are supported by research. As Alzheimer’s disease researcher David Jolley said, “The religious-spiritual dimension of life is all about the search for meaning… and the role of organizations and individual care[giver]s is to support residents in that quest,” (Jolley, 2011).
A 2018 systematic review of dementia care, conducted by researchers Paul Michael Keenan and Majella Kirwan, provides more context.
Keenan and Kirwan found that “Cleary and Doody (2017) emphasize the importance of knowing the person living with dementia when providing support. Keenan (2017a, 2017b) stresses the person-centered aspects to understanding and delivering spiritual care, if quality nursing is to be practiced,” (Keenan & Kirwan, 2018).
They found that people with dementia and intellectual disabilities can have difficulty communicating pain and discomfort in medical care. Developing a close connection with them can help foster clearer communication and more effective treatment.
Further, they stress the need for spiritually rich, person-centered care for patients who have dementia.
In their 2018 systematic review, Keenan and Kirwan found that fostering an environment for spiritual expression and growth in dementia care created more comfortable and positive conditions for patients.
They also found that spiritual and religious practice slow cognitive decline.
Their systematic review covered researcher Patricia Higgins’s 2014 study of residents living with advanced dementia in a United Kingdom care home. Keenan and Kirwan found that religion played an important role in maintaining these advanced dementia patients’ identities.
While we at St. Ann’s are owned and operated by a Catholic order of Sisters, we welcome and embrace residents of all faiths. We celebrate unity over uniformity and are committed to helping each resident grow in his or her faith practice.
A Quiet Dignity
We characterize our commitment to spiritual growth as a form of quiet dignity, which manifests itself in the care we provide every day.
This quiet dignity is and will remain, utterly foundational to the Sisters and staff. Our essence thrives from providing you and your family with individualized and holistic high-quality care.
If you find a parent or family member needs more dementia-focused care than you are currently able to provide, we invite you to reach out to us for assistance. Contact us to talk with our experts about the clinical and spiritual advantages we provide in dementia care.
Daly, L. & Fahey-McCarthy, E. (2014). Attending to the spiritual in dementia care nursing. British Journal of Nursing, 23(14), 787-791. doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2014.23.14.787
Jolley, D. (2011). Dementia care: spiritual and faith perspectives. Nursing and Residential Care, 11(8).
Keenan, P. M. & Kirwan, M. (2018). Nurses’ understanding of spirituality of older people with dementia in the continuing care setting. Religions, 9(50), 1-10. doi: 10.3390/rel9020050