Actionmarguerite Innovates with ‘Gentle Persuasive Approaches’

Years ago, physical restraints were commonly used in hospitals to immobilize patients. Research has shown the negative consequences that this can have on patients and their families. Today the practice no longer has a place in care facilities, which are implementing new behaviour management techniques, like those of the Gentle Persuasive Approaches (GPA) program taught by Advanced Gerontological Education Inc.—or ‘AGE Inc.’ for short.

GPA is about “equipping staff with the skills and confidence they need to interact respectfully and safely with people who have cognitive disorders,” explains Michele Bliss, a Certified Master Coach with AGE Inc. “The strategies help staff recognize, prevent and defuse behaviours that may occur when dealing with people suffering from dementia.”

AGE Inc. is a national, not-for-profit social enterprise. “It was important for Actionmarguerite to deal with an evidence-based Canadian program,” says Josée Fournier, Resident Services Manager at Actionmarguerite. “The not-for-profit aspect is important because it tells us that the group is focussed on making a difference rather than money.”

In May 2018, two certified trainers from AGE Inc. came to Winnipeg to offer a training session to Actionmarguerite staff. “It was the first time that AGE trainers had come to Manitoba. The Actionmarguerite residences will be the first in the province to implement the program.”

At the end of the two-day session, 17 employees obtained their certification. “We brought together managers, nurses, educators, social workers, and recreation services staff. We tried to touch on all aspects of resident care to ensure that everyone’s using the same approach.”

The 17 certified employees were then able to pass on what they learned to their respective teams. “During the training, we exposed them to the GPA techniques,” says Bliss. “They then shared this knowledge with their colleagues through one-day sessions to learn the basics of the program.” To date, more than 200 staff members have received the training.

GPA is also a way for Actionmarguerite to minimize workplace accidents. “It’s an integral part of our workplace violence prevention plan,” says Bliss.

“We started by training staff from the special needs units and other units where behavioural issues may be present,” adds Fournier. “The residents of those units are more prone to reactive behaviours, so the risk of incidents is higher.”

Actionmarguerite started implementing the new practices in fall 2018. “It all starts with senior management, who strongly believe in the program. Managers worked to implement the techniques. The educators and nurses who were already trained modeled the approaches in their departments. Recreation workers incorporated GPA into their activities and the social workers helped families better understand the new approaches used in the residences.”

For Actionmarguerite, the new training is about ensuring continuity of care, using new methods. “Actionmarguerite has been delivering excellent care for over 25 years,” says Fournier. Our clients’ needs are becoming increasingly complex, and we must adapt to be able to meet them. That requires additional skills and knowledge. To stay current, we need to be innovative and think progressively.”