The Chief Executive Officer for HavenGroup says they do not want Rest Haven personal care home to be viewed as a place where people go to die. Yet, David Driedger says that is sometimes the perception from the public and staff alike. Driedger says that is one reason they invested so heavily in educating their staff on DementiAbility.

"DementiAbility is really to have environments or places where residents will be in a place that looks, feels and smells like home," explains Driedger. "And with things to do that have meaning and purpose and allow for connection with other residents in our home or with staff as well."

Driedger says over the last number of months, more than 100 of their staff took part in a two day workshop on DementiAbility. More recently, they had nine staff work with specific resident cases within Rest Haven to develop a very personal resident-focused plan for each, by bringing their history to the present. And, in this way, creating a very personal plan of care.

According to Driedger, at any given time, approximately 75 per cent of their residents have some form of dementia. He notes often when a resident has dementia, they will return to their past.

"They think about their past," he says. "Or, their responses to their current environment are reflective of their past."

And not all of those memories are always positive. For example, Driedger says a senior with dementia who came to Steinbach through immigration may have lived through horrific experiences just to get here. But other seniors may have been farmers in their younger years, athletes, or office workers. And now, they are in a personal care home, needing to find a way to reflect on who they are from their past, in their present state.

By connecting residents to their past, Driedger says you notice a change in them.

"We're trying to create these environments that feel like home to them so that they will be more relaxed, they will feel safe, they will feel secure," he says. "And that they will enjoy their day."

With nine staff now certified on DementiAbility, Driedger says that is only the tip of the iceberg. He suggests these nine will be forerunners for the rest of the staff, referring to them as champions and overcomers.

"I would say for those nine staff that were certified this morning, good job," adds Driedger. "We're proud of them as an organization and we look forward to them continuing to make resident life better, even today."

Driedger anticipates another nine or 10 staff will take the certification course this fall and that eventually, they will become a certified organization on DementiAbility.