What Happens in the US stays in the US…not with PAC!!!
by Teepa Snow, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA
This year more than ever our outreach is growing. Members of our team are working with people across the world to provide support and a different way of being part of the world for people living with dementia and their care partners and providers.
While I was in Hawaii, we had attendees at the Hawaii Healthcare Association Conference and our Engagement Skills Day Intensive from many of the islands and at least 16 island cultural groups. That diversity allowed us to develop new resources and offerings that matched the people who were present and who were to be served by those providing care. Musical instruments from Hawaii, word games in Japanese, Portuguese bean soup to share out as a snack, and an opening activity of weaving a ribbon lei for one another.
Yes, I know Hawaii is part of the US, but the people who live there represent the most diverse state of the union. It is always a good idea to work with someone who is intimately involved with the culture. That was our Lead Mentor, Dorothy Colby, and her PAC Trainer colleagues. What an amazing and skillful team!
So, what about other countries and cultures when it comes to PAC? How are we taking what has been developed here in the states to share around the world? We are doing it with sensitivity and input from those who are part of each culture, each country, and each place. We have worked with local PAC people and internet friends and family members who live where we are seeking to serve.
When we provided the Trainer Certification event in London Heathrow area the first week of July, we worked with three mentors from Wales and two from the Newcastle area in Northeastern England. In addition to our diverse UK learners, we had one learner in from Australia. When it came to the Coach Certification event, we kept our three mentors from Wales, added in another Learning Mentor from northeast England, and used virtual mentors from Canada. Mixing up the melting pot of PAC is more than just practicing the use of different language rhythms and words, it has to do with appreciating different customs, norms, expectations, and life stories. In order to customize PAC to each place we visit, we need to weave how we do what we do in our Positive Physical Approach (PPA), our Positive Personal Connectors (PPCs), and our Positive Action Starters (PASs) into how life is lived in this space.
Aside from our Certification events, we provided two additional outreach efforts during the UK trip. The goal was to provide free sessions through local service agencies who were willing to contact everyone they knew who would benefit from an in-person session to get them to attend and experience PAC and Teepa first hand.
While thousands of people were appreciating Wimbledon for its world-famous tennis tournament, over 200 people connected in some way to the home care provider Home Instead and over 40 of their franchise offices across the UK.
What was remarkable, was the enthusiasm and excitement of all the attendees. For a reserved culture, there was no holding back when they were asked to try out actions and movement to get a sense of why a PPA is essential as a quick screening tool to determine the person living with dementia’s willingness and interest in connecting and working with you.
On Wednesday, we were at our second charity event. This event was sponsored by Admiral Nurses and Hospices of North East England. It was held at North Umbria University and was telecast to other locations. Our PAC Certified Trainers and Mentors from Tees, Esk, and Wear Valleys National Trust Fund stepped up as helpers for skills, as we had a packed auditorium of over 250 and there was no way I could make my way to the back for demonstrations and feedback. This was another remarkable group of willing participants. Although I was outside their comfort zone, they soon were engaged with their partners in field testing techniques on each other and comparing notes on reactions, sensations, and outcomes. The follow-up high tea and visit to St Oswald’s Hospice location was very helpful in appreciating the culture of care, the settings of care, and the nature of need as it related to the number of people living with some form of dementia who would be served by this group.
What’s next for the UK? A good bit will depend on what the UK is interested in doing and how the additional 27 new PAC Trainers and 12 Coaches use their newly minted talents and skills, how the UK mentors move forward in their mentor development, and what the groups who have experienced Teepa’s programs and the PAC phenomena want to happen. We are hoping that next year will bring more opportunities and a wealth of PAC activities in this nation that is so rich in its own kind of diversity… Scottish, Welsh, and English groupings are big categories, but there are so many variations and heritages within the UK combination. We still have so much to learn about and build into our inclusive PAC world.
Dick and I spent three days, total, in Ireland, touring about and meeting and exploring at least some parts of that country. It would be terrific to have a chance to share our PAC message there at some point, there are so many elders and so many people who care and want to provide what is best for those who are living with the brain changes of dementia.
While you are reading this article, Courtney, Dick, and I are in Australia. Visiting Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and more. I will share about that adventure later…