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Honing Your Caregiving Skills

Honing Your Caregiving Skills

Honing Caregiving Skills

Tara Machacek, McCormick Dementia Services social worker, encourages caregivers to enhance their skills to better manage the challenges they face.

“This course is perfect for what we are going through.”

“You’ve made a huge, positive difference in my life.”

“I’ve learned so much…I’m feeling better now that I’ve learned some new techniques.”

These are just some of the comments on a new program at McCormick Dementia Services that is helping caregivers learn practical, hands-on ways to care for someone with dementia. The McCormick Enhanced Caregiver Education Program takes an in-depth look at different aspects of caregiving, such as communication and personal care. Each topic is explored in a way that teaches realistic strategies and approaches that can be used in any situation.

“The course teaches skills that can help caregivers cope better,” says Tara Machacek, a social worker at McCormick Dementia Services.  “You learn strategies and techniques that you also try out on others to make the learning relevant to you and your situation.”

The content for the course is driven by everyday issues that caregivers commonly face. In addition to addressing how dementia impacts the way a person communicates and how to recognize these changes, the program covers how to work with responsive behaviours that can sometimes confuse and challenge caregivers. Sessions also address learning how to engage people in meaningful activities by shifting the focus to their ongoing skills and strengths, which assists in enhancing their sense of dignity and self-worth. One of the more popular topics teaches how to provide personal care.  Sessions offer strategies and techniques that enable the person with dementia to take care of themselves, such as dressing and bathing, and provide an opportunity for participants to practice these techniques in a safe and supportive setting.

This free program is delivered by McCormick Dementia Services social workers and specialized guest speakers, and is informed by medical experts, health care professionals and best-practices in dementia care research. Participants are welcome to register for some or all of the sessions. In order to keep the learning experience meaningful and relevant, enrolment is limited to 15 people.

There is also the added benefit of connecting with others who are facing similar challenges.  “You get to know other people in the same situation and learn from them as well,” says Tara.

“I don’t feel so alone now,” shares one participant.

As this is a new program, participant feedback is regularly being used to fine-tune the content to ensure its effectiveness in meeting real-world challenges. The goal is to provide a useful learning experience, where participants can return home and right away put into practice what they’ve learned.

For caregivers who are unsure about whether or not they should register, Tara’s advice is to just sign up and give it a try.

“The more knowledge you have, the better.”

For more information, please contact McCormick Dementia Services at 519-439-9336 or e-mail