Recognizing Innovative Approaches to Serving Older Adults


Mather Institute logoOctober 3, 2022

Eskaton Receives Honorable Mention for Teaching Best Practices for Inclusivity of Those with Dementia

Mather Institute is committed to recognizing organizations that strive to serve older adults in original and exciting ways. Our Promising Practices Awards highlight organizations working with older adults in a variety of settings that are moving away from conventional practices by developing and implementing innovative approaches. Eligible programs for this award include those that introduce new and exciting practices in serving older adults as well as those that provide unique improvements and advances in existing services. Especially during this critical time, when the world has completely changed, those who serve older adults have been using new methods to adapt quickly and solve new challenges. 

Eskaton, a regional nonprofit aging services provider, set out to help senior living staff and others learn to think differently about living well with dementia and to transform the way they support those with differing abilities. “A group of residents, family members, and staff spent two years identifying best practices that need to be in place in order for communities to be inclusive of all people,” says Therese Ten Brinke, director, strategic initiatives.

These best practices include scheduling to ensure consistent care, offering all-day dining, providing flexible schedules, documenting and honoring life stories, providing access to the outdoors, and changing the community language.

To ensure the sustainability of these practices, Eskaton recognized the need for in-depth training that provides the “why.” So, in 2018, they launched the Well-Being Academy, which offers eight two-hour sessions. “We explore topics rarely introduced in a dementia care training program, such as ageism, ableism, self-fulfilling prophecies, empathy, and the power of language,” says Therese. The academy is offered across 12 communities (including all of Eskaton’s and others), both virtually and in-person, and Eskaton has added a train-the-trainer model that’s been leveraged by multiple other communities and entities.

Participant surveys show the academy is a success, revealing

  • 45% increase in collaborative decision-making
  • 41% increase in asking older adults for their opinion
  • 80% increase in offering flexibility to support older adults’ choice
  • 100% increase in offering team members an opportunity to participate in organizational improvements
  • 87% increase in frequency of times that team members reflect on well-being
  • 31% increase in focusing on living and care

“The Well-Being Academy has a transformative effect: team members leave inspired, understanding that a diagnosis of dementia does not mean the end to living a full and purposeful life,” says Therese.  View article on page 6.

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