Dementia Q&A with Gary Joseph LeBlanc; creator of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project:http://www.commonsensecaregiving.com/Wristband_Project.html
1. KIM – Please explain what the Wristband Project is; for those readers who may not be familiar with the program.
GJL – The premise is simple; the wristband project does a couple things:
#1 – Upon admission; patients with a prior dementia diagnosis have a Purple Angel affixed to their standard issue hospital wristband for identification purposes. The Purple Angel logo is the international symbol for all types of dementia.
#2 – A Purple Angel is also placed on their doorframe so that anyone entering knows they should approach with the patient’s special needs in mind.
2. KIM – As the creator, please share what led you to develop this program. Had you identified an un-met need in the marketplace that prompted you?
GJL – After going through three hospital stays with my Dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, I was shocked how little knowledge the staff had in dementia care. At first I thought it may have been just this one hospital. However, I write a column called ‘Common Sense Caregiving’ and I receive e-mails from readers all over the country telling me the horrors they experience with their loved ones with dementia in the hospital.
3. KIM – Hospitals tend to be quite set in their existing standards of care delivery. What are some of the pre-existing conditions that you had to overcome; to get this program implemented?
GJL – After knocking on numerous doors of hospital administrators for the past four years, I finally met up with Patrick Maloney, CEO of Brooksville Regional Hospital. His mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s and he put me in contact with other members of the HMA/Hernando Healthcare that were extremely enthusiastic in running a six month pilot program, which as been very successful. The bottom line is that hospitals are large corporate machines and change is very difficult to initiate, but as Mr. Maloney stated when I thanked him, “This is the right thing to do.”
4. KIM– If you can; share one or two examples of how hospital personnel is engaging and delivering this new level of support for those with dementia, in the hospital setting. Have you observed immediate benefits?
GJL– One of the most important things we taught throughout the training was that you need to verify all medical history of anyone wearing the dementia logo on their wristband. You just can’t take what they’re saying for granted without verifying it with a family member or advocate.
Also, we instructed them to always use ‘in time communication.” Meaning, On Monday, you don’t tell Mr. Smith he has a test downstairs on Wednesday at 3:00pm. You may let him know about an hour before his Wednesday appointment, otherwise you’ll be asked every 15 minutes, “Aren’t I supposed to be somewhere?” Simple tips like this, assist staff with keeping patient confusion and anxiety down.
5. KIM– What’s the long term goal for the Wristband Program? What does ‘success’ look like on a large scale?
GJL– My main goal is to get every hospital to adopt this program. The education is without a doubt the most important part of the program. We are seriously lacking in dementia training throughout this country.
Currently, we don’t have a cure for dementia related diseases; so the least we can do is to make sure our hospitals are dementia friendly and correctly trained in how to keep our loved ones calm and safe during their stay.
I firmly believe that these Wristbands will make the time in the hospital safer and cause less torment for the patient, their families and the medical staff.
THANK YOU! Gary Joseph LeBlanc, creator of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Hospital Wristband Project http://www.commonsensecaregiving.com/Wristband_Project.html