Fort Worth’s James L. West Center celebrates 10 Years of dementia education and caregiver training

🕐 4 min read

By Cathy Neece Brown
James L. West Center

“Providing Hope for the Journey” – this simple statement is far more than a marketing slogan. The words reflect the commitment of the James L. West Center to offer exceptional care and support to persons living with dementia and the villages of people who guide, love, care for and support them.

More than 53 million Americans provide care for adults and children who cannot care for themselves. Whether helping an aging parent, a seriously ill spouse or child or some other special person in need, those giving care often do so at a great personal sacrifice of time, energy and income.

Caring for a loved one brings joy and fulfilment, but it is also hard. Caregiving requires dedication, determination and time.

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Today, Feb. 18, is National Caregivers Day and the James L. West staff has taken a moment to salute and celebrate the thousands of caregivers we have had the privilege to work with – and the millions of caregivers nationwide: families, professionals and volunteers.

If you provide support such as errands and grocery shopping, wound care, prescription management, or cooking, cleaning and personal care at home, you are a caregiver.

Ten years ago, the West Center recognized the journey that so many families were taking as they began to understand the realities and the future needs for their family members living with dementia. Answers were hard to come by, and few and far between for most … it became apparent that there needed to be a better, more thoughtful road map for these families.

As our nation’s population continues to age, the face and needs of caregivers will change. Studies confirm that high stress levels often lead a family caregiver to suffer significant health effects or even death before their loved one succumbs to the impact of dementia-related illness.

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Understanding this dynamic, the West Center embarked upon a bold commitment to develop a world-class dementia caregiver education program focused on giving caregivers the tools and answers to their “right now” questions and needs while educating them for the journey the disease would take them on.

Developed with a focus on serving the Fort Worth area, the program has expanded across the nation and, with technology, across the world. Offerings include face-to-face and online programs, and an extensive caregiver education video library available on the West Center’s website.

Understanding firsthand the needs of family caregivers, the caregiver program began with this focus in mind. As the West Center received contacts from the professional health care community, the program expanded with training and seminars to teach professionals how to manage and care for persons with dementia.

James L. West embraces its nearly 30-year history of training health care students; the Center has been the clinical hub for dozens of programs for health care students across the Dallas-Fort Worth area who come to the West Center to perform their clinical rotations.

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Students who “make rounds” at the West Center receive extensive dementia education as part of the Center’s dementia education program.

A generous gift from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation provided the initial funding for the program and the recruitment of the program’s current and founding staff member – Jaime Cobb Tinsley. Jaime’s extensive background working with Alzheimer’s patients and her skills as a gifted communicator made her the ideal candidate to develop and launch the Center’s educational programs.

To this day, the West Center is the only Alzheimer’s-certified nursing center to offer comprehensive dementia education programs for families, staff and the community-at-large.

In addition to education programming, the West Center has expanded the staff to include a licensed professional counselor who teaches as well as leads support groups and one-on-one counseling.

What might you see over the next 10 years, you ask?

The West Center will continue to expand its teaching programs, including its role as a hub for the ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) model which provides the Center the ability to be a dementia specialist hub to connect with communities all over the world via Zoom sessions. In addition, the West Center’s existing Dementia Enhanced CNA Course will expand to include additional community partnerships focused on educating the next generation of health care leaders.

In addition, look for the West Center to expand even more, into the home and community-based service market to meet the needs of persons living in the community. This initiative kicks off in May with the reopening of the Center’s Adult Day Program and the introduction of a Dementia360 care model.

With a goal to focus on not what is lost but what remains, the West Center honors both persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

On this National Caregivers Day, we say “Thank You” to the millions of caregivers – families,  professionals and volunteers – who boldly and courageously take their walk one day at a time, with joys and challenges, to support those to whom they are providing care and support.

Until there is a cure, we are here to care!

Cathy Neece Brown is Vice President, Mission Support, for the James L. West Center, 1111 Summit Ave., Fort Worth.

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