PSW Forum 2015

On Thursday May 14th, The Alzheimer Society of Toronto held their 10th Annual PSW Forum. It was a full day of wonderful learning opportunities & a chance to bond with fellow PSWs.

I loved it.

The forum was sponsored by Trish & Dan Andreae whose parents suffered from dementia. Their kind words meant a lot to all 200 PSWS in the room, and they really hit home when Dan said “PSWs are the backbone of the healthcare system”, something I’ve been saying for quite a while now. It’s nice to hear it from other’s, especially those who don’t work in the field. It’s nice to feel appreciated. Cathy Barrick, The Alzheimer’s Society CEO also nailed it when she said that “PSWS have the hardest job EVER”. Yeah, I’m beginning to think we do.

There were several very good presentations, but there were a few that stuck out to me that I found to be most exceptional & an invaluable learning experience.

I sat in on a mini-seminar entitled Introduction to Palliative Care presented by Dianna Drascic, MScN, ACNP. “With over 25 years of experience as a palliative care clinician, educator & researcher Dianna has worked in almost all venues of palliative healthcare delivery, from the street to the ICU”.
Her approach and direction with this topic was very useful. Instead of focusing on actually taking care of a palliative care client – which of course can be a course all in itself – Dianna focused on the caregiver, and what palliative care and dying means to us. Is there a right time to talk about dying? How are we going to die? Where are we going to die? The benefits of talking about dying:
This was just the beginning & suffice to say a lot of us were extremely uncomfortable. I loved how she focused on the normalcy of being uncomfortable. Of the inevitable fact that at some point or another we’re all going to die. I’m not the only one who imagines the ideal death: asleep in a warm bed. The reality is that a good portion of us won’t experience this, but instead will suffer illness which is WHY talking about death & the very real probability of undergoing palliative care is essential. I fully intend to look into more seminars regarding palliative care & I encourage to you to do the same. Knowledge is power, even when unpleasant.

Bethany Kopel is a Coordinator for the Centre for Behaviour Health Sciences (CBHS) & is a board certified behaviour analyst (BCBA). Her presentation on challenging behaviour & ways to deal with it was fabulous. With enthusiasm she engaged the audience when explaining how we the PSW can affect positive behaviour change every day with our clients as well as how to observe and properly track responsive behaviours in an objective way by utilizing the proper skills and strategies. I’m hoping she’ll be interested in speaking at OPSWA’s 3rd Annual Conference next year (note to self – get in contact with Bethany!)

It was a long day. An exhausting day. But well worth it.

The Alzheimer Society of Toronto offers seminars both online and in person through out the year on several courses relating to dementia and the PSW. I intend to update my Education page with links to the types of programs they offer. Keep an eye out for amazing opportunities!

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