+ Chief Executive Officer
Teepa Snow is one of the leading educators on dementia and the care that accompanies it, in the US and Canada. As an occupational therapist with forty years of clinical practice, she has founded a company and an approach to support and engage people experiencing changes in brain function. This Positive Approach® to Care emphasizes making use of the skills retained while providing support, and substituting our skill, for what is no longer available. This belief led to Teepa creating the GEMS® States model for brain change. The GEMS model compares people to gemstones and focuses on retained abilities in order for us to see what is beautiful, and still available, for the person with whom we share time and offer support and care.
Her company, Positive Approach® to Care (PAC), provides training, services, and products around the world. She has successfully integrated her education and extremely varied work experiences, recent medical and international research, and first-hand care support and provision background into a program that guides others in effectively working with people living with neurocognitive degeneration. Using this word is an example of how Teepa takes what is the norm in the culture of dementia care and works to change it. “As people living with dementia at the World Health Organization summit indicated, language matters, so let’s try using the words that match what is actually happening for people, not the word that imposes judgement on another’s mind” was Teepa’s comment when asked why try to get a complicated word into the vocabulary of people who have difficulty knowing the difference between the terms Alzheimers and dementia
Teepa’s created and guided the development of the GEMS Model and Positive Approach to Care techniques and training modes. These approaches are now used extensively by families and professionals working or living with each other and people living with dementia or other brain changes. One core principle of PAC is that, in order to obtain the relationships and outcomes that are desired, the first and most important change must originate with each person’s own willingness and ability to change their brain functions. Teepa believes that “Rewiring our own perceptions, attitudes, communication strategies, actions, and responses provides the shift that promotes change for the others around us”.
Originally from West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, Teepa now lives outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a graduate of Duke University with a degree in Zoology. She then received her MS degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She has a wealth of clinical, teaching, and research experiences that have informed and influenced her philosophy, approach, and practice. Teepa has worked as part of Duke University Medical Center’s Neuro-Rehabilitation Team, UNC-CH’s Geriatric Clinic, an OT director in a head injury facility, a clinical specialist in geriatrics for a Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, and a therapist and restorative care coordinator for long term care facilities. Her hands-on caregiving experiences include providing direct care in community and wellness centers, day programming sites, home care settings, assisted living and CCRC communities, long term care facilities, out-patient clinics, hospitals, hospice, and rehabilitation settings. Teepa currently has clinical appointments with Duke University's School of Nursing and UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Medicine. Previously, she served as the Director of Education and Lead Trainer for the Eastern N.C. Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, as the Program Director of Durham Technical Community College's OTA program, as an interdisciplinary team member and clinical associate professor at UNC-CH School of Medicine's Program on Aging, and as a coordinator and care manager for CAP Medicaid waiver services in North Carolina. She has served in a wide variety of leadership and advisory positions in professional organizations at both state and national levels, including the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's Foundation of America, AOTA, and NBCOT. She’s currently working on a number of national and international projects and with organizations. She is on the board of the US Dementia Action Alliance and the Alzheimers Support Network in Naples, Florida..
Teepa’s care strategies and techniques integrate what is known about brain function and changes that happen with various conditions with therapeutic approaches to foster positive outcomes, modified environmental supports, and altered task expectations that match retained or available abilities of people living with various forms of brain change and deterioration. She teaches about the value of connection when primary verbal communication and interaction abilities are altered. Her teaching style is extraordinarily unique in that she is able to accurately demonstrate and model for her students and audience the struggle and challenges dementia creates for all parties involved. She is an enlightening, witty, entertaining, and energetic speaker, who is much sought after to present to agencies and organizations across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
Teepa is an advocate for those living with dementia and has made it her personal mission to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with the challenges and changes that accompany various forms of the condition so that life can be lived fully and well. Her company, Positive Approach to Care was founded in 2005 and offers education to family and professional care providers all over the world. Her training, services, and products are available through video, online education, and in-person trainings and consulting.
On a more personal note, Teepa has been married to Dick for over 40 years. They have three grown children, Abby, Manda, and Drew. There are two grandsons, Sebastian and Benjamin, and many grand-dogs. She likes almost all forms of crafts and arts, although she is only good at some. She also enjoys time outdoors and various forms of activity, such as hiking, running, climbing, biking, canoeing, and exploring. When stressed she cleans and cooks. When relaxing she cooks, reads, walks, and gets into home or yard alteration or renovation projects.
The letters behind Teepa's name represent the following credentials: MS (Master of Science), OTR/L (Occupational Therapist, Registered and Licensed), FAOTA (Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association).