HJ/EDMay 22, 2006

Lakeview Ranch training volunteers in dementia care

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Lakeview Ranch in Dassel and Darwin are in the process of developing a network of volunteers trained in dementia care.

“There is a need now for highly skilled, trained volunteers specialized in dementia care,” commented Judy Berry.

Persons with limited finances needing specialized dementia care have few choices available that can provide for their emotional needs in addition to the various physical needs, Berry explained.

Many times, persons with dementia will act out because of unmet emotional needs and there “simply isn’t enough trained staff to address their frustrations and unmet emotional or physical needs,” she said.

The volunteer program is meant to train people to understand the disease, communication techniques, and appropriate approaches to meet emotional, spiritual and physical needs of persons with dementia.

“This won’t include personal care,” commented volunteer coordinator Shirley Capistrant.

“We will try and match the volunteers interests with the clients,” she said.

The volunteer program is meant to give the client one-on-one interaction; doing activities they enjoy.

This may include reading to the client, playing an instrument, gardening, or simply talking with the client.

Lakeview will offer ongoing support and monthly luncheons and individual training opportunities. “We’ll train as they volunteer and teach them about our clients and their needs,” explained volunteer coordinator Connie Lutz.

There are two distinct reasons for the development of the Lakeview Ranch Model of specialized dementia care.

The first is a need for trained dementia care givers, and second is that there is limited funding for the specialized care needed for dementia clients.

Berry explained this is meant to be a network in which someday, the skilled volunteers can go into homes and work with persons with dementia who are unable to afford alternative specialized care.

“This will provide a vehicle to stay in the home as long as possible,” Berry said.

In addition to this, Lakeview is eager to make a “significant difference in the face of dementia care in the community,” said Berry.

Berry’s goal is to give people the opportunity for specialized dementia care regardless of their financial background.

She created the Dementia Care Foundation in 2001 to raise funds in order to help residents who couldn’t afford specialized care.

Through the foundation, Berry hopes to make a model of care replicable outside of Lakeview and create a scholarship fund for residents on medical assistance to have access to high levels of care.

“We want our clients to have choices since they have so few already,” said Capistrant. This includes allowing them more freedom than in a nursing home setting.

Berry’s passion for dementia work began when her mother became ill with Vascular Dementia (small strokes), and needed 24 hour longterm care.

“I became extremely frustrated after my mother spent seven years of her life bouncing from one nursing home to the next,” she said.

Berry’s mother had used all of her life savings and didn’t have the funds and was “denied access to more appropriate levels of care.”

No one wanted to care for her because she would “strike out” because of unmet emotional needs, Berry explained.

“They drugged her to the point where she would just sit in a chair and drool,” Berry explained.

“The need is there and the crisis is now,” she said.

Currently, there are 73 staff and 27 residents between both Darwin and Dassel.

Lakeview also offers 24 hour respite care. “We call it the Ranch Resort,” Berry said.

For those interested in volunteering to help persons with dementia meet their personal needs, contact Connie Lutz or Shirley Capistrant at (320) 275-5515. For more information on Lakeview and the Dementia Care Foundation, visit the web site, www.dementiacarefoundation.org.

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