Montessori team award 

Congratulations to the Hillcrest Health Services Dementia Care Team for receipt of the national 2018 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Gold Award (Quality Category). The award was given for utilization of the Montessori method into the Hillcrest dementia care plan. Hillcrest Health Services is located in Bellevue, Nebraska. 

At Hillcrest Health Services, use of the Montessori method in dementia care has increased resident engagement, improved motor skills, decreased resident behaviors and reduced the off-label use of antipsychotic medications.

“Montessori allows residents to thrive in a structured environment during the entire disease process,” stated Anna Fisher, PhD., Hillcrest director of quality and education.

There’s also an inter-generational component to the assisted living/memory care program, Fisher said. “Hillcrest has partnered with the only secondary Montessori school [7th – 12th grade] in the state of Nebraska and our collaborative efforts have led to the formation of an inter-generational school in which the junior high and high school students attend every Friday and interact/engage with the residents,” Fisher said.

Technology is a major part of Hillcrest’s person-centered Montessori effort; for example, computers used in group activities or Nintendo Wii for exercise, a group activity in which residents make a PowerPoint presentation shown at a family holiday dinner or the use of Google Maps to help residents “visit” important places to their lives, Fisher added. “We have developed 100+ evidenced-based activities, through the use of technology, and are now able to identify the activities that are person-centered and conducive to where they are in the disease process,” Fisher said.

Montessori dementia care kits have been developed for field therapists and home care clinicians and a grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America allowed for the creation of mobile activity carts for use with people who have dementia and are unable to attend regular activities.

Dr. Fisher and her team presented on their efforts and successes at the Nebraska Culture Change Coalition and Elder Living Enrichment Collaborative Meeting in mid November. Visit the Nebraska Culture Change facebook page for photos.

Montessori team

Tammy Baumann, Great Plains QIN Quality Improvement Advisor, attended the presentation and offered, “The Montessori Method is evidence-based and the program today only reinforces the fact that we must think in new ways when it comes to engaging our elders with dementia. This philosophy creates a purpose for the elder and making sure the activity meets the person where they are in retrogenesis.”

Montessori-Based Dementia Programming (MBDP) is a method of working with older adults living with cognitive and/or physical impairments based on the ideas of the educator Maria Montessori. It has been shown to increase levels of engagement and participation in activities of persons with dementia. While it cannot cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it has been shown to generally improve many aspects of the quality of life of those who have it. 

MBDP uses rehabilitation principles including guided repetition, task breakdown and progressing from simple to complex. Additionally, principles of dementia interventions, such as external cue usage and reliance on implicit memory are used. Examples of activities include reading groups and memory games. 

The Montessori Philosophy:

  • respect and dignity
  • prepared environment
  • purpose and meaningful
  • meets person where they are
  • encourages the person to explore their work at their pace

Montessori student Katie Kyle stated, “being a part of this program has been an amazing opportunity, for me it has made me step outside my comfort zone and help the residents. The award means so much, we are doing this for a greater purpose.”

In August, Dr. Anna Fisher presented on Non-pharmacological Approaches in Dementia Care. Treating dementia does not warrant a “one size fits all” method. There are many types of dementia resulting in a myriad of behaviors. Dr. Fisher explores non-pharmacological approaches in dementia care, including person-centered methods, to bring out the best in our dementia residents and help them engage and experience better quality of life. Click here to watch the recording.