Benefits of Montessori in Dementia treatment

As the number of residents with dementia increases, lifestyle coordinators are constantly looking for ways to enrich the lives of Baptcare's residents.  One such example of this is the Montessori for Dementia program, which is being implemented at Baptcare The Orchards Community. Michelle Pepyat, a member of The Orchards' Lifestyle team, undertook Montessori training in 2015 and is also training other Baptcare staff in the method. The results have been "highly successful".

Helen, an Orchards resident, would rarely participate in lifestyle activities, but following the implementation of the Montessori method, the staff have seen a marked improvement.

Michelle did some research on Helen, including her Greek culture and decided to try a bowling game, similar to a popular ball tossing game that is common in Greece. After encouragement from staff, residents and her daughter, Helen joined the carpet bowls group.

Helen's behaviour changed almost immediately. "Once she was welcomed into the group she was smiling," said Michelle.

"After two sessions of exercise and bowling she was talking and laughing and reminiscing. She began speaking fluently in English."

Michelle also noted Helen's new-found energy and appetite when she participates in the lifestyle activities.

The Orchards staff have been excited by the progress made in Helen's improved wellbeing. Helen's daughter has also been overwhelmed by the results.

Based on the educational philosophies of famed childhood educator Dr. Maria Montessori, the Montessori method promotes an individualised care approach, to promote a person to use their physical memory.

Use of a person's physical memory encourages them to feel valued and to enjoy life to the best of their ability.

This is what carpet bowls has done for Helen, bringing joy back into her life. Helen is regularly seen smiling, clapping and speaks English regularly; a contrast to only speaking Greek before the use of the Montessori method.

Nurse Unit Manager Nishant Desai expressed great excitement at Helen's improved health and wellbeing.

"Helen has changed a lot…she is now starting to speak up for herself and makes choices for herself," said Nishant. "This is an amazing result."

Nishant spoke of the individual approach given to Helen as being key to Helen's progress. "It feels like we have actively changed someone's life by thinking outside the box and focusing on her needs rather than applying general interventions for someone with dementia," he said.

The Montessori method has been applied to other residents at Baptcare The Orchards Community, many of who now act independently and have found purpose by helping set up many of the activities.

Michelle is planning on training more staff in the Montessori method and believes residents at other sites can benefit from the method.