What is this project about and why is it important?

This project is supported by the Canadian Dementia Learning and Resource Network at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Dementia Community Investment (DCI). These funded projects are actively developing and testing tools, resources, and approaches to promote the well-being of persons living with dementia and care partners.

The Therapeutic Dementia Care Program (TDCP) is a community-based program that aims to optimize the quality of life and wellbeing of people living with dementia and their caregivers.

Through this program, older adults participate up to one day per week in a wide range of therapeutic program activities to enhance quality of life and optimize well-being, with the goal of providing caregivers with respite from their caretaking responsibilities.

In November 2021, program activities resumed in-person after being suspended since March 2020. The in-person format required adaptation of the space and a smaller group of participants.  Online offerings were maintained, shifting the program to a hybrid model: both virtually and in-person. Given the evolving status of the pandemic and accompanying provincial restrictions though, programming had to re-pivot to a solely virtual platform after five weeks. Caregivers are supported regularly in this adapted format and are engaged in restorative respite. The Virtual Format includes: a weekly Therapeutic Toolkit, a variety of cognitive, physical and creative zoom groups for PLWD, Care Calls and caregiver support groups/sessions including educational events.

Who is this project for?

This program is for older adults and persons living with dementia, family and friend care partners. The program is offered in both official languages and focuses on serving marginalized populations.

Resources this project has created

3 Key Takeaways

  1. The Therapeutic Dementia Care Program serves a key need in the community for intellectual and social engagement of people living with dementia while also supporting their care partners. The impact of the program is demonstrated through the feedback provided by both guests and caregivers on an ongoing basis. This remains consistent regardless of whether the service model is offered in-person, virtual or a hybrid of both. 
  2. Virtual programs were initially developed out of necessity in response to the covid-19 pandemic. An unintended consequence is that the virtual platform has become an effective way to keep people living with dementia in the program who are no longer able to join in person. Guests with declined functioning and increased needs can continue accessing the therapeutic programming online and benefit from the program’s resources.
  3. The concept of “restorative respite” has been an interesting by-product of the shift to virtual programming. Traditional respite was provided for caregivers during the time their loved ones joined the in-person programming. However, shifting to the virtual platform meant a more active role for the caregivers to set up the Zoom sessions and monitor its use. Although this presented a challenge for caregivers to receive traditional respite, it made way for a different type of respite that program staff refer to as “restorative respite”. Care partners have the opportunity to engage with loved ones in a therapeutic environment during the virtual programs instead of routine task-based activities (i.e. assisting with iADLs and/or ADLs). “restorative respite” can be seen as a bonding experience and positively impacts the relationship between care partners and care recipients.

Project Details

Location: Montréal, Québec

Duration: 2019-2023

Organization Lead(s): The Cummings Centre

Project Team:

  • Sheri Stock, Program Manager, Day Services

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