International Recap: 2019

International Recap: 2019 post page

By Courtney ChorbaNovember 22nd, 2019

International Recap: 2019


by Courtney Chorba,

PAC International Certifications and Events Coordinator

What a year it has been. While Teepa and her company, Positive Approach to Care (PAC), are US based, dementia knows no boundaries. For years, we have heard from friends and soon to be friends, wanting to know more, be trained in the Positive Approach, and of course, see Teepa in person. As Teepa’s reach and PAC’s message continues to grow outside of the US, we have been traveling all over the world to meet with like-minded people to help change the world of dementia care, one mind at a time. In 2019 alone, we met with people on three continents, four countries, countless cities, and that was just in person. Our virtual reach continues to grow. Take a look back with me at Teepa and PAC’s international work in 2019.


The first Canadian Certification course of the year landed at Trinity Village, Kitchener, Ontario with a Trainer Certification course on April 4-5 led by seasoned Canadian mentors Jessica Pelkey and Charleen Phelps. They were joined by Dawn Wiggins and learning mentor Janet Hart. This course turned out 24 new PAC Certified Independent Trainers.

The end of July brought two PAC events to Ottawa, Ontario. Wildpine Residence hosted a Consultant Certification Course for 17 learners at their brand-new facility. We even had one learner from Australia, ReJane, who diligently completed three certification courses within a two-week timespan!

Consultant Certification Course, Ottawa, Ontario, July 25 – 26, 2019

Consultant Certification Course, Ottawa, Ontario, July 25 – 26, 2019

The day following the Consultant Course, Teepa led a free day of skill building and connecting, open to any of the certified community in Canada. This event was hosted by Waterford Senior Living and was attended by 16 people plus one virtual attendee. Throughout the day, Teepa and our Canadian mentor team supported the group with some practice on mobility skills as well as GEMS state demonstrations and interactions.

The final certification course for the 2019 year took place in Montreal, Quebec in September, hosted by the Alzheimer Groupe. A smaller (but no less successful) crowd of 15 completed their Trainer Certification with the help of Charleen, Greg, Jess, and Sharon.


Trainer Course in Montreal, Quebec with mentors Charleen Phelps, Greg Phelps, Sharon Jackson, Jessica Pelkey. September 5-6, 2019. Photo courtesy of Greg Phelps.


Two-day Intensive in Toronto, February 23-24, 2019.  Mentor Jessica Pelkey, demoing Hand-under-Hand® (HuH®)

We’re working hard to lay out a productive and supportive plan for the 2020 calendar year in Canada. With the help of Jess Pelkey and Cheryl Buchholtz, we are hoping to map out more Champion Courses in 2020, in addition to the two Trainer Certification courses we will be holding. The 2020 schedule for Canada will be available in one month, so stay tuned!

United Kingdom

As July 2019 rolled around, the PAC team made our annual summertime visit to the United Kingdom, and the momentum there continues to grow!

The first week of July, Teepa and a team of PAC mentors took the flight over the Atlantic to offer a number of events, including a couple of speaking engagements and two certification courses. Beth Nolan, Kathryn Quinlan, Melanie Bunn, Dick Snow, and Courtney joined Teepa on the journey, and we joined up with UK mentors Nick, Helen, and Ali to prepare for the Trainer and Coach courses.

The week kicked off with a full house in the Trainer course held in London, with 28 learners taking their first steps to becoming PAC Certified Independent Trainers. Attendees hailed from all corners of the UK, with one learner coming all the way from Australia!

While the PAC team was carrying out day 1 of the Trainer Certification, Teepa and Dick journeyed to Wimbledon, near London. There, she led a speaking engagement hosted by Home Instead Senior Care, bringing a crowd of over 200 care professionals, including nurses, police officers, and home care directors.


Teepa and the Wimbledon crowd. Photo courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care.

 “I feel very privileged to have seen her speak.  She really is a firecracker!”

“fantastic and inspirational – I am still feeling rather emotional”

A couple of comments from Wimbledon

Check out more about the event in Wimbledon.

The second half of the week included another speaking engagement for Teepa in Newcastle, as well as a Coach Certification course in London. The Coach course brought a smaller group of 10 learners, some of whom were working on their second certification, and others who were brand new to PAC. On the Wednesday between the two cert courses, Teepa and Dick made another, longer journey by train to the northeast of England, to offer another speaking engagement in Newcastle organized by St. Oswald’s Hospice. This engagement brought a crowd of around 200.

A couple comments from attendees of the Teepa Talk in Newcastle:

“Teepa, what an inspirational presentation you delivered! It has caused me to reflect on so many situations I have previously been in and helped me understand what was going on. I have improved confidence in caring for patients with dementia and feel I can draw on my new 'tool kit' to help me and my patients develop a therapeutic relationship.”

“Cancel everything in your diary to make sure you can get to a future Teepa Snow event!”

Other exciting news that 2019 brought are our three working mentors in the UK. Ali, Nick, and Helen! The trio completed their Apprentice Days virtually this past June and had the opportunity to get their feet wet mentoring at their first certifications during UK week in July, and then got to work on virtual mentoring with learners from the London courses.

Additionally, we had three certified Trainer/Coaches join us at the certs to lend a helping hand. Susannah and Caroline attended in a learning/support role at the Trainer, and Sarah-Jayne Berry joined us at Coach. They used this time to practice some of their coaching skills with the new learners.

Looking towards 2020, we gained a bundle of valuable information during an open discussion with our friends in the UK that took place on October 14th. We will be returning to some areas to offer more certification courses, some days for skill building, and some speaking engagements this coming July. We’re also looking to grow our UK mentor team and hold a skill-building day for our UK mentors. Please stay tuned into for the details!


149 hours equals roughly six days-time. That is the total, combined travel time for Teepa, Dick, and I to get to and from the land down under. This does not include intra-continental travel while there. That was the longest journey I’ve ever taken, and it was well worth the sleep loss and stir craziness that ensued along the way. In our trip to Australia, we were met with tons of motivated and passionate people who are ready to work for change in dementia care on local and national levels.

The tour kicked off in Hobart, Tasmania, where we were hosted by the Wicking Centre for Dementia Research at the University of Tasmania. The day began with a workshop with the academic staff, with an evening program for family care partners.

After taking some time to explore Tasmania on a road trip piloted by Dick, who expertly mastered navigating a new terrain in addition to driving on the other side of the road with the steering wheel on the other side of the car, we flew off to the quiet (at least during the winter) beach town of Adelaide, South Australia. There, Dementia Australia hosted a Teepa Talk at the airy, sunlit Adelaide Pavilion. The walls were actually windows, which provided a lovely natural light. However, at one point, a bird did fly into one of the glass window walls.

The event sold out and we were grateful to be joined by a few special guests at the event! Kate Swaffer is a leading advocate, author, and speaker in the world of dementia care, and we were lucky to have her join us at the event in Adelaide. We also had two members of our certified Australian community, Thean and Jane, attend as well.

Next destination: Melbourne. A short flight over to the southeast coast and we landed in a quicker-paced cosmopolitan setting. This event was also hosted by Dementia Australia and brought a crowd of over 150 professional and family carers from a variety of backgrounds. Jenny Houston, another one of our Aussie Certified Independent Trainers, joined us as well as our new friend Lee, who is an active advocate and soon-to-be certified trainer.


Teepa Talk in Melbourne, Victoria – August 20, 2019

There was one more stop to be made before making the flight back around the globe to the US. Teepa and Dick traveled onward to Sydney for an event there on the 23rd of August, hosted by Uniting, a Senior Residential Care Provider. The morning was designed to support Uniting staff from their various communities, bringing over 160 people from maintenance to executive directors and everyone in between. The afternoon was open to the public and was attended by People Living with Dementia (PLwD), carers, support groups, Dementia Friendly Community facilitators, and professionals. The stop in Sydney also provided an opportunity for Teepa to meet some of the folks she’s been in contact with virtually – including Veda and her care partner Lynda, Peter Gooley, Tamar, and many more.

Looking ahead, there are many excited groups and carers in Australia and New Zealand who are wanting to spread the awareness and grow their own skills. We’re working on a second visit for March of 2020, and we will be running a webinar series for Aussies and Kiwis in the meantime! Stay tuned for more information!


September brought with it more international travel time for Teepa, this time to attend the 21st Annual Long-Term Care conference in Toruń, Poland. This conference draws around 1000 people with over 20 countries represented. Prior to the actual conference, Teepa offered a one day speaking engagement to a crowd of around 1,000. Headphones were available to have her words translated in real time into a wide range of languages by live translators.

The events began with us hearing the voices of two people living with dementia, one person who was able to join us and read an account of his experiences, and another person shared a video recording of her experiences since she was not able to attend in person. Adam Soril and his care partner Hanna took to the stage and Adam read aloud his experiences as a person living with dementia, and his life as an engineer.

Our local PAC Coach/Consultant Marlena (from Gdansk, Poland) and our PAC Certified Trainer Aneta, along with her two PAC-trained teammates were present both days of the event to lend a hand and coach the audience through trying some new things out.


Teepa and PAC Coach/Consultant Marlena, September 18, 2019, Toruń, Poland


September 18, 2019, Toruń, Poland

You can read more about the event, review an interview Teepa gave while there, and see some great photos.

The work didn’t end in Toruń. Following the conference, we traveled north to the Baltic coastal city of Gdansk, the city of freedom and solidarity.  We spent a Friday morning with a group of about 40 high school students to introduce some dementia awareness and a little bit of skill. The students had the opportunity to try some Hand-under-Hand® (HuH®) and discuss brain change, and afterwards to ask Teepa some really thoughtful questions, some based on personal experience.

Friday afternoon we visited Serenus, the newest care facility in Gdansk, where Teepa spent a few hours touring the facility and working with the core staff on important aspects of the environment and approach techniques.


Teepa and Marlena demonstrating for Serenus staff, Gdansk, Poland, September 20, 2019


Teepa, Marlena, and Serenus staff, Gdansk, Poland, September 20, 2019

Friday evening, following a delicious dinner of pierogis at a Ukrainian restaurant in Gdansk, we had the opportunity to try out some virtual reality (VR) training based off of Positive Approach® to Care techniques, created by Bartek, a friend of Marlena’s. The aim of the VR training game is to get players to hit the different steps of the Positive Physical Approach™ (PPA™) and HuH® while completing tasks of daily living, such as assistance with eating. While the training is still in the development phase, it was a great opportunity to experience some of what the future holds in dementia training!


Bartek, Teepa, and Marlena watch as Marlena’s husband Greg tries his hand at the VR training, Gdansk, Poland, September 20 2019


Over the past two months, Teepa ran a series of open discussion webinars; two for Australia, one for Canada, and one for the UK. The focus of the webinars was to hear from anyone and everyone in those places on what they’re looking for in terms of support, awareness building within their communities, and training. The information shared by everyone who attended has been invaluable in helping us to build a framework for the 2020 international events calendar, both in person and online.

These webinars were the first of many to come. Teepa is working on creating a webinar series for the upcoming year that caters to the time difference in the different locations where we have a growing interest in PAC. There will be both paid and free webinars available, and they will cover a range of topics in dementia. Stay tuned to for details as they become available.

Courtney works with the PAC team as the International Certifications and Events Coordinator, as well as a navigator for continuing education processes for professionals completing PAC courses where applicable. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. Courtney finds inspiration in travel, people, music, art, and books, and stays balanced through yoga, meditation, and running.

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2 Comments on “International Recap: 2019”

  1. hello!
    Are there any plans to visit Czech Republic? Not so far from Poland and a similar health care system I assume. I would be interested to assist as I have lived there several times over the past 25 years
    Cindy Keehn PT DPT PAC Certified trainer

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