BrightVibes spoke to a dementia nurse and leading figure in promoting the Montessori approach to care in her native Australia who believes people with care needs should be as independent as possible to protect their dignity, offering a real purpose for living.
Enabling people to be the best that they can be to live the life they want with dignity
BrightVibes spoke to Anne Kelly, the leading subject matter expert on Montessori for dementia and aged care in Australia and across the world. Her unique approach combines the Montessori philosophy with over 35 years of experience in the industry to fundamentally change the way we provide support and care to others. The Montessori approach empowers organisations and individuals to break with traditional methods of care to give people back their independence, enabling them to be the best that they can be to live the life they want with dignity.
“In a Montessori world, we set people up for success, not for failure.”
“None of us, regardless of our age, wants to be fed or wants to be dressed or wants to be toileted by strangers. Independence is so important for a soul,” says Anne Kelly, a registered nurse who has been in aged care Montessori for about 12 years.
Kelly is on a mission to make people aware that there was a different way to care for our elders and a different way to offer support that would maintain their independence, their dignity, their self-esteem.
She says a strength that people living with dementia have is their procedural memory. That is their skills, their habits, classical conditioning and repetition priming. The more somebody does something, the better they get, even though they have a memory problem.
“I always look at people as having the ability to learn. One of the things that we very easily do with people living with dementia is: we give up on teaching them anything.”
We need to create an environment that invites exploration, that invites colour, that invites interest. The world is full of absolutely amazing things to see, to touch, to smell to taste. We’ve got to stimulate all the senses, animals, gardens, flowers, intergenerational programs linking the young with the old.”
Many elderly people, for example, have grandchildren. How often do their grandchildren visit? Very rarely. Why?”
Because they come into a care community. ‘Sssht!’, and ‘Don’t go there! Don’t run! Don’t touch that!’ so in a Montessori environment, we put playgrounds into the outdoor areas and we put seating. And the old people can go out with their grandchildren. This is how you create a community. This is how you keep people in touch with the people they love.”
In a Montessori world, we set people up for success, not for failure. And we do whatever is required for them to be successful in what they do.”
Learn more: Montessori for Dementia and Ageing
the Montessori ethos of ‘help me to do it myself’ transfers across all ages
Montessori for dementia and ageing is an innovative person-centred approach to care based on the philosophy of famed Italian physician Dr Maria Montessori. The Montessori method has been practised for over 100 years to support the natural development of one’s own initiative and natural abilities, through self-directed activities and hands on learning.
While often thought of as just a method of education for children, the Montessori ethos of ‘help me to do it myself’ transfers across all ages in the context of cognitive development.
Whether Montessori is used in childhood development or aged care, the philosophy respects (rather that infantilises) the individual, and works with a person’s strengths to foster independence and high self-esteem in a prepared environment to create opportunities for true choice and meaningful engagement.
About Montessori for Dementia and Ageing
Montessori for Dementia and Ageing supports improving the quality of life for elders, promoting the principles of dignity, meaningful engagement and independence throughout life.
Montessori for Dementia and Ageing is an innovative approach to dementia care that can be adopted for individuals or groups as a philosophy of care. The goal of the Montessori program is to support older adults and people living with dementia by creating a prepared environment, filled with cues and memory supports, that enables individuals to care for themselves, others, and their community.
AMI strives to develop communities that treat individuals with respect and dignity and honour their choices so that they may live as independently as possible.
In 2014, AMI invited Montessori and Dementia experts from across the globe to form the first Montessori Advisory Group for Dementia and Ageing (MAGDA). MAGDA is the main advisory board to AMI on all matters concerning the application of the Montessori approach for older people and persons living with dementia.
To date, the Group has created a charter, standards, and quality indicators for aged care communities, developed a workshop curriculum and has established specific guidelines for obtaining an AMI Practitioner’s Certificate in Montessori for Dementia and Ageing.
For details, visit the Montessori for Dementia and Ageing website
HOW THE INSPIRATIONAL LIFE OF MARIA MONTESSORI HAS IMPACTED THE WORLD
This year marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Maria Montessori, who revolutionised ideas on education, human development and equality. Today, Montessori education is offered in over 25,000 schools across 145 countries. Learn more about this amazing woman and her legacy.
AMI: empowering teachers to empower others
AMI’s (Association Montessori Internationale) global network empowers teachers and communities through the holistic approach of Maria Montessori, helping all children become truly capable and productive individuals by focusing on their moral, behavioural, emotional, and intellectual development.
MONTESSORI FOR DEMENTIA AND AGEING
Improving quality of life for elders, promoting the principles of dignity, meaningful engagement and independence throughout life. Click for more information and resources.