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The Importance of Collaborative Relationships

The Importance of Collaborative Relationships

Waving Flag

McCormick Home residents cheer on our Canadian Olympic athletes.

I was recently reflecting on the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang and the amount of work involved in making the Winter Games happen every four years. It brought to mind the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” To achieve a positive outcome, it really is all about collaboration.

How does this apply to dementia care? As defined by the World Health Organization, “…collaborative practice occurs when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive services by working with patients, their families, caregivers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.” There is a significant amount of research that indicates patient outcomes, quality of care and cost of care delivery are all optimized when the required disciplines work in unison toward a shared goal that focuses on the patient.

One of the core values of McCormick Dementia Services is collaboration.  To quote the definition used across our organization: “We strengthen our teams, learn from each other and contribute to enhancing the health care system through respectful cooperation, knowledge sharing, and mutually beneficial partnerships.”

When it comes to providing dementia care, the first collaborative relationship we build upon is between the person with dementia and their primary care partner. The team learns about this relationship at the initial meeting and offers different perspectives and solutions that address the needs of both. In particular, we understand the value of the caregiver, who has a deep knowledge of the person requiring support and who can keep us informed of any changes in their loved one, such as his or her mood, behaviours, medications, and sleeping patterns.  From there, we work with our team of staff members, comprised of specialists in nursing and recreation, to develop and deliver a care program that is individualized to the person’s interests, background and abilities.

In the wider picture, we are also interconnecting and coordinating care with the broader community, such as the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Home and Community Supports program, which includes physicians, geriatric specialists, nurse practitioners, researchers, pharmacists, social workers, and representatives from other professional disciplines who provide their specialized perspective on the type of care we provide.

Our village is a large one and each member provides an important contribution to the collaborative effort.  Like the Olympics, it takes a multitude of knowledgeable, dedicated people working together to achieve a common goal. And while the outcome may not play out on a world stage, it nonetheless can change the world for those living with dementia.

Helen Jevnikar is a Social Worker at McCormick Dementia Services.


McCormick Day Program clients enjoy their own winter sports with a friendly game of curling.