about the course


The increasing number of persons with dementia is having a major impact on the health care system and has intensified the need for accessible, relevant education, for care providers and other partners in care. Dementia: Understanding the Journey is based on the philosophy that persons with dementia have the same basic needs for security, shelter, nutrition, and affection as other adults, and have the same rights to have these basic needs met.

Dementia: Understanding the Journey was created by a diverse community of health care professionals who have combined academic research with experience in the field to develop an education program that recognizes the person and focuses on individualized support.

No two people experience dementia in the same way; and there is no singular approach to supporting persons living with dementia. Dementia: Understanding the Journey was created to develop and enhance the competencies of current and future health care providers. Its core goal is to provide standardized foundation education for those supporting people living with dementia.

Dementia: Understanding the Journey offers its learners:

  • a holistic, person-centered philosophy for understanding dementia
  • strategies to maintain a balance between offering support and encouraging independence
  • strategies to maintain a person’s identity, dignity, and self-esteem
  • strategies to provide quality care using an interdisciplinary team approach
  • tools to assist in understanding and responding to behaviours

Dementia: Understanding the Journey contains 27 content hours and is divided into nine sessions. Each session is designed to be three hours in length with a 15-minute break. The sessions build on each other and aspects of topics overlap, working to reinforce earlier session material. The course is usually delivered over a five to nine week period to allow time to reflect on and/or apply the material introduced in each session. To qualify for the Dementia: Understanding the Journey certificate you must attend all sessions in their entirety and complete a final project. The final project must be approved by your facilitator.

Session Overview

Session 1: Recognizing Dementia

Session 1 will begin with a review of the objectives and structure of the course and what is expected of learners. It will include the Learner Assessment Strategy, Project Options, and the Evaluation Plan.

The session content will outline how demographic changes are having an impact on dementia care within Nova Scotia (and nationally) and provide an introduction to dementia and its impact on cognition. You will introduce the important role the course will play in equipping learners to support people living with dementia.

Session 2: The Person Comes First

This session will focus on the foundational principle and philosophy of the course: the person (not the disease) comes first. The session will define and contrast person-centred care and person-directed care approaches; both involve an understanding that persons living with dementia are persons who have a story, preferences, values and interests. The session will emphasize the complexity of dementia, the range of capabilities people with dementia have, and the importance of choice. The session will emphasize that care happens within a context of relationships.

Session 3: Supportive Care – Part 1

This session emphasizes the learners role in encouraging the engagement of persons living with dementia in meaningful interactions whether through activities of daily living, leisure and recreation activities, or meaningful relationships. A shift from a task-oriented understanding of need fulfillment to engagement in activities that support a positive self-identity is central to this session.

Session 4: Supportive Care – Part 2

This session continues to highlight the learners role in providing a supportive care approach focusing on the capabilities and preferences of the person.

Session 5: Supporting Other Partners in Care

This session will highlight individuals who share a meaningful relationship and connection to the person living with dementia. These individuals may be family or friends. They are considered partners in the care of the person living with dementia; they have an essential role in providing care and support throughout the dementia journey.

Session 6: All Behaviour Has Meaning

This session will emphasize that all behaviour has meaning and reveals underlying needs, or impairments. Approaching situations with this understanding in mind can help care providers make sense of and respond appropriately to behaviours that can occur when supporting persons living with dementia.

Session 7: Planning for Care

In this session, learners will have an opportunity to apply your learning through care planning. The session will highlight the importance and purpose of care planning and will link it with tools used to identify and track needs and behaviours as discussed in Session 6. The session will demonstrate how care planning is used to provide holistic, person-centred care for persons living with dementia.

Session 8: Me, Myself, and the Team

This session will focus on the care provider (the learners) and their position and role within a care team. It identifies barriers to implementation of the knowledge taught throughout this course. These barriers are related to the cultures that exist in care facilities and community settings. Many care settings are task-focused instead of person-centred. This session revisits the importance of building relationships with persons living with dementia as one of the strategies that will enable learners to implement a person-centred approach.

Session 9: Wrap Up, Presentations & Evaluation

This session provides an opportunity to revisit or address any topic or material that needs further clarification or discussion, if time allows. This session also allows time for you and others to present final projects to the class. In addition, during this final session, you will complete a course evaluation.

To qualify for the Dementia: Understanding the Journey certificate:

  • All sessions must be attended in their entirety.
  • A final project must be completed and approved by the course facilitator

Education makes a difference.


Dementia: Understanding the Journey recognizes that persons with dementia have the same basic needs for security, shelter, nutrition, and affection as other adults, and have the same rights to have these basic needs met. The challenge for caregivers is to meet these needs, as progressive disease symptoms cause increasing dependence.