Dementia in the workplace curriculum for newcomers

Our research indicates that that younger family members are often responsible for health resource location and system navigation for their parents; however, newcomers do not have the knowledge of dementia or familiarity with Canadian systems to identify dementia supports effectively.  The Building Trust team therefore sought to reach out to newcomers, particularly those with no or limited English for whom system navigation is most challenging. Download the Project Overview for more details.

In partnership with our team and the Alzheimer Society of BC (ASBC), an EAL (English as an Additional Language) teacher has designed a three-hour class that will be incorporated into the labour market section of PICS’ English curriculum for newcomers to Canada. There is a high demand for entry-level workers in the geriatric care industry in which employees are bound to come into contact with persons with dementia, hence we anticipate that this curriculum will be of interest to newcomers and will help ensure the sustainability of this product for PICS.

Click to open Dementia in the Workplace Curriculum for Newcomers.

The curriculum was piloted with an intermediate-level English class. Participants from diverse origins completed a demographic form and pre-and post evaluations of their dementia knowledge. The class teaches language learners about the brain, emotions, dementia and what it takes to make a cup of coffee, for example. Students have to use their new language skills to identify all the cognitive steps required for a person to make a cup of coffee; the second time around a volunteer acts like a person with dementia and fails to follow their instructions appropriately, thus they learn how and why this breakdown in communication can happen and how best to interact with a person with dementia. Continued inclusion of this class in the curriculum will maximize exposure of different newcomers to the basics of dementia.

This curriculum is intended to be informative, interactive and engaging for the students. Upon reflection, PICS and SFU team members agreed that the workshop would be best delivered over the course of two shorter classes (i.e. two 90 minute classes). Alternatively, some of the material could be eliminated or pared down into a two-hour class. We recommend that EAL teachers wishing to teach this material review the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s video on the brain, behaviour, and Alzheimer’s disease. This video is too complex for beginner language learners, but provides excellent background material to deepen the understanding of instructors. Other materials, including videos, are recommended for use in the classroom.

See here for a compiled PowerPoint of the slides presented in the curriculum.