An Island Health video series created for family caregivers of people with dementia has received awards from two different organizations in recognition of the video’s high quality and value as a learning tool
Sharing the Journey; Practical Approaches to Caring for a Loved One With Dementia is an 18-part video series that offers practical advice to help family caregivers respond to new challenges while maintaining meaningful and healthy relationships with the loved ones. Caregivers are often family members, spouses or children who provide emotional, physical and mental support.
Michael Fountain, Island Health digital media consultant, also received an award at the 2019 Videographer Awards in recognition of his in production and editing the series, which he says is “really humbling.” The international competition received more than 1,500 entries from 13 countries.
Fountain says he was most surprised to learn how much of a commitment it is for caregivers dealing with family members challenged with dementia. “It’s a huge investment mentally and emotionally, but also physically,” he says.
Each video segment is a few minutes long and focuses on specific topics such as wandering, communicating with health-care professionals and self-care for caregivers. The segments include advice from health-care professionals, interviews with real-life caregivers and short scenarios performed by actors to demonstrate different responses.
Sandie Somers, a nurse who specialized in dementia and senior’s mental health, took on the caregiver role, along with her mother and sister, when their father was diagnosed with dementia. Somers and Fountain undertook the project together, facilitating focus groups in Victoria and the Comox Valley to bring to light the real and meaningful issues that impacted them.
She says there were many times throughout the interviews the duo would break out laughing, but there were also a lot of tears shed.
Somer’s father passed away in September, and while she misses him the project has become her way to give back to those struggling.
“Through all of it there are moments of joy that you have to grab onto, when he would smile a certain way or get a twinkle in his eye [and you would make you say] there you are dad,” she says.
She hopes caregivers are able to get practical advice from the videos in an accessible way.
Fountain hopes people can take tools and strategies from the project and put them to use.The project involved 12 actors, 10 subject matter experts and six production
The videos are free to watch and can be found at islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/seniors/dementia-video-series.