Cummings Centre Therapeutic Dementia Care Program

Comprehensive and specialized day program for people living with dementia that includes support and respite services for care partners.

Who could benefit from reading this?

  • Individuals, community organizations, day program service providers, managers and policy makers who want to use the lessons learned and recommended resources from this program to create or modify an existing day program for people living with dementia.
  • People living with dementia and their care partners who are interested in attending a day program, and/or learning more about its potential impact.

Review the Before you begin section for foundational knowledge that will be helpful for any dementia community initiative.

Key information

Who is this project for? People living with dementia (or varying cognitive impairment levels) and care partners in Montréal, Québec, with a special focus on women, English-speaking older adults, individuals with low socioeconomic status and cultural minorities

Project Lead: The Cummings Centre

Project partners: Concordia University’s Centre for Research on Aging (engAGE), the Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (CREGES), the City of Côte Saint-Luc, and the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montréal (CIUSSS Centre-Ouest de l’Île de Montréal), and an advisory committee composed of care partners involved in the program

Project status: complete, 2019-2023

Get in touch:

Sheri Stock, Program Manager, Cummings Centre Day Services

Project story

Background:

The Cummings Centre is a multi-dimensional membership-based organization offering programs and services to the Montréal community. This program was delivered by recreation therapists and student trainees using a holistic approach to create a supportive and engaging environment for participants while addressing the unique challenges associated with dementia and caregiving. Originally intended to be delivered in-person in a community centre, this program evolved in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to offer both virtual and in-person programming including physical, cognitive, and creative arts activities. Respite care, dementia education, psychosocial support, and resources were available to care partners through the program. Training, workshops, conferences, and educational resources to raise awareness about dementia and its risk factors within the community were also available through the Cummings Centre as part of this program.

Goals:

The goal of the Therapeutic Dementia Care Program was to enhance the well-being of people living with dementia and their care partners through:

  • Individual assessments to understand and address each participant’s unique needs
  • Specialized programming that meets the needs and preferences of participants
  • Group activities that build relationships and foster a sense of belonging and community
  • Equipping care partners with knowledge, skill and capacity building

Milestones and achievements:

Members of the Cumming Centre Therapeutic Day Program team developed resources to support the delivery of this program and provide care partners with education and tools related to dementia.

Impact

Project findings:

  • Both people living with dementia and care partners had high levels of satisfaction with the program. In particular, the program had a positive impact on the well-being of 131 people living with dementia and 156 care partners who participated in the Therapeutic Day Program.
  • 452 members of the general population were reached through student internships, webinars and events that promoted awareness and knowledge about dementia and its risk factors.

People living with dementia:

  • 100% were satisfied with the program and kept their minds active
  • 100% reported improved well-being
  • 91% were energized by the program
  • 88% felt less lonely
  • 81% kept their bodies active

Care Partners:

  • 92% reported improved well-being
  • 93% reported an increase in knowledge and/or skills
  • 85% agreed that they were happier
  • 76% agreed that they avoided burning out
  • 75% agreed that they enjoyed life more

Want to know more? Download this supplementary resource outlining how this program was evaluated.

Experiences:

“[My wife] has an AMAZING time with you. She cannot stop saying how much she enjoys herself (“such nice people”). I am so very, very grateful that this program exists. It is literally helping me become more mentally stable and confident in my 24/7 caring for [my wife]! ” – Care partner

“Thank you for making me feel right at home”. – Person living with dementia

Insights

Lessons learned:

  • Intake assessments help understand the client’s interests and requirements. Plan for extra time and effort to complete intake assessments and onboarding of new clients and families. Prioritize completing assessments in person (including home visits, if necessary), even for clients who may only attend virtually.
  • Encourage socialization among people living with dementia during programming and consider grouping guests based on social fit. Creating opportunities for participants to befriend each other enhances engagement and fosters a sense of belonging within the group.
  • Facilitate ongoing group opportunities for care partners to participate with a consistent core group, fostering connections and a sense of belonging. This is preferable to activities that are time-limited (e.g. 10 week series) which can deter potential attendees from joining if they are unable to commit long term.
  • Plan care partner leisure activities thoughtfully, avoiding activities that require a certain number of attendees. This can inadvertently pressure care partners to register just to support the program.

This project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Dementia Community Investment (DCI).

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