Teepa's Approach


Teepa’s care strategies and techniques look at what is known about brain function and changes that happen with various conditions and integrate that information with therapeutic approaches. These approaches foster positive outcomes, encourage alteration of in task expectations, and create supportive environments that match retained and 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, the U.K., and more.

She first developed her Positive Physical Approach technique early in her practice career and introduced it to others in continuing education workshops for nursing in the late 1980s. By the mid-1990s, Teepa was providing training about working with people with neurological impairments and brain failure across the south through the regional continuing education network known as AHECs. She collaborated with her fellow clinicians at UNC-CH to produce her first book, entitled Geriatric First Aid Kit. It was designed as a quick reference guide to help interns, residents, nurses, and other healthcare providers with a tool to provide better care for elders.

Teepa Showing Hand Under Hand

In the 1990s, she also began to advocate the use of Hand-under-Hand® assistance following her work in traumatic brain injury programs and nursing home settings. By the early 2000s, Teepa was working with Melanie Bunn and Maureen Charlton at the local Alzheimers Association to provide knowledge and skill based intensive workshops across the region. At that time, she used the Allen Cognitive Levels from the Cognitive Disability model to guide learners and care providers in offering support, environmental modifications, and cues that would better match the individual’s preferences, remaining abilities, and interests. In 2003, the DVD Accepting the Challenge: Providing the Best for People with Dementia was launched. It rapidly became the most award-winning and popular training DVD on dementia ever produced. In this DVD, Teepa and Melanie provide training and demonstrate the techniques with people living with dementia. It was the first of its kind and is still used throughout the world today as a model for understanding the symptoms and addressing the needs to reduce distress and fill the day with opportunities for interaction that have meaning and value.

By 2006, Teepa was spending time both organizing and leading over 140 conferences and workshops a year in eastern North Carolina and providing training and consultation in both the US and Canada, as well as speaking across the continent.  At that time, she founded Positive Approach, LLC. After several years of working as a consultant and trainer for the Alzheimers Association while building her own following and training offerings, Teepa stepped away from the organization. Despite her departure from the group, her influence and elements of her program legacy lives on in the national Alzheimers Association CARES program, as well as a well-received training video used extensively by the Alzheimers Foundation of America.

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