News for Pennsyslvania Libraries

On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the Capital Area region held a multi-district workshop titled: ‘A Positive Approach to Care™: Serving Our Patrons Facing Dementia,’ focusing on the awareness, knowledge and skills enhancement for library staff when it comes to serving patrons who are affected by dementia, whether it be an individual, caregiver or a care provider. The day was spent at the Bosler Memorial Library, located in Carlisle. The workshop addressed the importance of library staff having an increased awareness in the changes that can occur in the cognitive ability of an individual and how an appropriate response to these changes can result in more successful interactions with members of our communities affected by dementia. The workshop was presented by two Positive Approach to Care™ (PAC) mentors, Kathryn Walsh and Melanie Bunn, from the organization founded by Teepa Snow, a leading educator on dementia and the care that accompanies it. These mentors provided relevant, timely and accurate information on the topic.

The workshop helped to develop a greater understanding of the science and theory behind the use of the presented skills of the Positive Approach to Care ™ technique and allowed for attendees to practice various skills that will make future interactions more positive and effective in serving those facing dementia. The targeted beneficiaries of this workshop included library staff, and from a broader sense, patrons who are affected by dementia or other changes in cognitive abilities. Twenty-six attendees from libraries across the Capital region attended the workshop and were provided with several important skills and resources pertaining to the topic of serving those who face dementia.

Positive approach logoAttendees learned that we don’t often know or recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia, and that recognizing the person first instead of their cognitive ability, is what truly matters in relationship building. A recognition of signs and symptoms can tailor the approach and way we can better assist someone; the acknowledgment of another person’s feelings can change the outcome of a given situation, and the recognition that no matter what the cognitive ability someone has, they are still a valued person in the community. The use of role-playing with assistive techniques was noted as very helpful, as well as understanding the importance of connecting with someone faced with dementia through one’s feelings with an empathetic approach.

Overall, attendees of the workshop were impressed with the skills and knowledge base of the presenters. The workshop provided the opportunity for attendees to think about various situations in their libraries where they’ve interacted with a patron who possibly has dementia and gives them tools to make future interactions more positive, helpful and accommodating. The workshop also provided attendees with a new-found knowledge and appreciation for individuals affected by dementia, and a variety of resources to consider for a more informed perspective, and to better assist patrons in meeting their resource needs. A change in perspective or mindset about members of a community can change how library services can be tailored to serve the needs of patrons. Attendees were encouraged to actively consider and evaluate their current resources, programming and other interactive opportunities they have for this targeted community segment, and if changes or improvements need made, that those options are considered and implemented within their libraries.

Submitted by:
Brianna M Crum, District Consultant
Capital Area Library District