It has been a long and exciting journey for the team members of Sumner Place. It all started in August of 2013, where all Vetter Senior Living communities were invited to Elkhorn, NE to receive training at a conference led by Erin Bonitto, a worldwide Dementia Care Consultant. Throughout this training, members of leadership were introduced to Buddies Forever communication skills created by Erin. These communication skills are the foundation for team members to improve communication with residents they serve who suffer from dementia related symptoms.

Since that conference in August, Mindy Zuhairi, Director of Nursing and Courtney Schmitz, Life Enrichment Coordinator agreed to Champion the Buddies Forever journey by training all the team members at Sumner Place. Each team member has watched a six hour long video “I Already Told You… Don’t You Remember?- A guide to Excellence in Dementia Communication and Behavior Prevention” which includes but is not limited to; understanding dementia basics, understanding how team members make the difference with their communication styles, the Buddies Forever basics, etc. After all team members watched the video, Mindy and Courtney then scheduled Coaching Blocks “Buddies Forever- Hands on Training” one to two a month, in which 6-8 team members at a time would experience hands on training for improved dementia care.

Sumner Place is proud to announce that ALL team members have been trained in this amazingly helpful program that proves to benefit not only the residents but also the team members and their families.

Success stories have been shared throughout the facility which includes a decrease in out of character responses, improved eating/drinking, decrease in use of psychotropic medication which correlates to an increase in use of non-pharmalogical interventions, decrease in team members stress, and an increase in resident satisfaction.

Despite this great achievement, the journey continues as even though training is complete there are many other educational processes that will take place to continue to help team members improve communicate with our beloved residents. Also, as new team members arrive at Sumner Place they will undergo the same training during their orientation. Thank you to all team members for embracing the Buddies Forever Communication program and for making a difference in the lives of residents we serve!

Listed below are the Buddies Forever acronyms that team members of Sumner Place aim to achieve on a daily basis with each resident they serve!

B – Be sure to introduce yourself-or offer a gracious reminder-every time!
U – Utilize endorphin boosts
D – Down below eye level
D – Describe what is going to happen next
I – Include everyone-use elder to elder introduction
E – Establish eye contact first
S – Simple Statements
F – Facial Expressions that SPARKLE
O – Offer a genuine apology
R – Remember to speak low and slow-no up talking
E – Encourage gestures and gentle body language
V – Verify mood and validate emotional reality
E – Engage with non verbal skills
R – Remember to offer a handshake, hug, or a kiss, to close every interaction

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