Heartfelt congratulations to Laurel Steed (left), Kyle Hillman (middle), and Alison Ritchie (right)! These Island Health Occupational Therapists on the Comox Valley Geriatric Specialty Services Team have won the BC Excellence in Quality: Coping with Transition from Life award from Health Quality BC​, for their Cognitive Stimulation Therapy initiative.

Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) is the only non-pharmacologic intervention for mild-moderate dementia with sufficient evidence to be recommended by the UK’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence. Research shows that CST can improve cognitive functioning, mental health, and quality of life; it also provides respite and support for family caregivers.

The trio recognized a gap in care and sought CST training so they could offer it to their clients. Through Jim McCaffrey’s generous donation to the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation in memory of his wife Frankie, the team was able to facilitate a CST program with two groups of participants. After two months, participants reported improved cognition and quality of life (+8.5%), with universally positive feedback. In the words of one participant:

“The program is so worthwhile. No one is uncomfortable, and we learn a lot while laughing and having fun. The negative thoughts I had about myself went away when I was with others experiencing similar difficulties.”

The initiative was the gold medal winner in Island Health Evidence into Practice Awards in 2022.

With the support of Island Health’s Research Department, the team was also awarded a $50,000 Spark grant from The Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation. They will use the funds to scale up their program over the next year by training colleagues in Campbell River to host their own CST groups, and expanding the number of sessions available in the Comox Valley to meet waitlist demand.

Source: Island Health, January 17, 2024