Workshop targets caring for seniors with disabilities

The local District Mental Health Services for Older Adults program held a day-long workshop here last Wednesday for health care workers and social service providers to discuss aging in people with developmental disabilities.
Paul Muldoon, a trainer and consultant, ran the workshop in which participants discussed the demographics of an aging society, its implications for people with developmental disabilities, and the community health care issues that occur because of it.
DMHSOA co-ordinator Sandy Skirten noted while the program provides service to older adults with serious mental illness or dementia and their caregivers, they also provide training and support for workers in the field.
“We are committed to providing education for health care and social service providers throughout the district,” he stressed.
Muldoon, a former executive director in both developmental and children’s services with the Ministry of Community and Social Services, used a combination of Power Point presentations, group discussions, and case studies to discuss issues of concern to service providers.
“Our goal is for staff to become specialists in their own right,” Skirten explained.
A number of other events are coming up to bring the local DMHSOA program into the spotlight. For instance, Dr. David Conn, director of psychiatry and telehealth at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, will visit the area in May.
DMHSOA staff across the Kenora/Rainy River districts communicate with Dr. Conn on a weekly basis through a telehealth program sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“They use him for case consultation, client assessment, and education,” Skirten said.
The local DMHSOA also has been invited to make a presentation at a conference in Hamilton in June, he noted.
“The Ministry of Health funds 40 teams of geriatric community-based programs,” Skirten added, of which the local program is one.
These 40 teams meet at a conference each year, and this year they will be profiling three unique teams in the province. The local program has been invited to make a presentation to the other 39 to discuss the particular challenges it faces in this region.
“It’s really exciting, and it’s a lot of fun,” Skirten said.