Montessori Method Helps Those Living With Dementia


American Montessori expert Dr. Cameron Camp has developed a new approach to caring for persons living with dementia. This new approach is known as The Montessori Inspired Lifestyle ® (MIL). It is based on the philosophy and methods of Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female M.D. in Italy and world-renowned educator.

“Within this new paradigm, abilities, interests, and preferences will be respected, encouraged and maximized. Providing choice throughout the day is central to all interactions.” Said Dr. Camp “Central to MIL is the creation of meaningful activities and social roles within the context of a community. This helps to ensure that residents are engaged in life, have a feeling of belonging, have a sense of purpose, have access to meaningful activity, and can have a sense of control and independence.”

Having done a 3 week course with Omnicare Alliance to learn about Montessori and apply the principles and methods in her own home where she resides with her husband who lives with dementia, Susan was blown away by his progress.

“We have a bunch of signs around the house with cartoon pictures for Jim now that ask him questions. ‘Have you taken the bin out?’ or ‘Do you have your house keys?’ she explains “This actually gets him to think and engage with himself which is a big part of learning.” She has realised that if she communicates in a simple way with her husband he will understand and be able to help with chores. Rather than tell him to cut carrots into cubes, for example, she now models instructions, showing him how she wants them cut. He is then perfectly capable of carrying out her request.

The Montessori Method utilises simple, modifiable and practical tasks that utilise everyday items to re-engage individuals and help to retrain skills that may have diminished due to dementia. A person’s abilities are closely tied to their life experiences and passions, and identifying these passions and harnessing them to rekindle and engage a person is the essence of what makes Montessori training and learning effective. For instance, if a woman grew up playing the piano, music may be the key to her learning and engaging, but if she enjoyed gardening instead, then heading outdoors and incorporating seeds and plants into her activities, may be the key in helping her rediscover some old skills.

As an Aged Care Placement Consultant I would love to see this method used in more aged care facilities. With the current strong focus on the quality of care I hope providers are taking note of Dr. Camp’s new approach.



Complaints Resolution in The Aged Care Sector

Rae Lamb Aged Care Complaints Commissioner

On April 27th the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner held an event called ‘Complaints Matter’ at the Adelaide Convention Centre. It was interesting to read an interview the day before in the Sydney Morning Herald with the Commissioner, Rae Lamb, in which she challenged the aged care sector to detail the number and types of complaints they received and how they were resolved, both on their websites and at actual facilities.

The aim of the ‘Complaints Matter’ event was for both aged care consumers and service providers to walk away with an understanding of why complaints do matter. The commissioner wanted the event to highlight the processes of a good complaint and provide best practice tips for resolving complaints to the satisfaction of everyone involved. The Presenters at the event were Professor Ron Paterson, former NZ Parliamentary Ombudsman and Health Disability Commissioner, and Maggie Beer of the Maggie Beer Foundation.

In her interview with the SMH the Commissioner said “At the moment, we are in the environment where people are being given a lot more control over their care, but to make good choices, people need more information.”  She explained that the aged care sector is being shaken up right now with the consolidation of a cottage industry by larger, often for-profit providers which means that “relationships between providers and consumers are changing and power balances are changing. That is why people need to get more information. It is about ensuring people are well informed and able to make choices.” As an Aged Care Placement Consultant I assess the quality of aged care facilities on behalf of my clients. Being aware of complaints at the facility and how they are resolved is most important in assessing the culture of the aged care facility being examined and how well my clients will be cared for.