Employee Spotlight: Charles Smyser
What do you do for Our Family Home?
My role is to coach Our Family Home caregivers on how to work with people with dementia. Using various Teepa Snow principles, I teach the staff techniques to work with our residents, create a calm environment, reduce triggers and decrease stress.
My work also focuses on life skills and leadership training for our caregivers and staff. This includes: awareness of life style factors that may ultimately lead to developing dementia, stress management skills, how healthy brains function, importance of sleep, skills for conducting difficult conversations, and most importantly, personal accountability and responsibility. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is stressful, so I want to help our caregivers manage their stress.
How long have you worked with Our Family Home?
I started working with Our Family Home in 2011.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The people. I enjoy working with caregivers and interacting with residents. I consider myself a caregiver advocate. I want to create a great environment for our staff so they create the same for our residents.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy old movies and music. I will occasionally host a Sunday movie matinee with residents. I find the old comedies and movies with a lot of music resonate with residents. Seeing them connect with a movie or song is very special. I also love ballroom dancing.
What have you learned working with Alzheimer’s patients/residents of Our Family Home?
They are still people and it’s important to prioritize this. Because we are interacting so regularly with residents, we get to see some very special moments. We see their moments of clarity, connection and happiness, and it’s very special. I’m also reminded to explore ways to connect with residents on a personal level. I can relate to what they remember, so I will talk about historical events or just try to make them laugh.
Have you had a personal experience with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
Yes, my mother had dementia.
How does OFH give residents and families more good days?
Our Family Home offers greater personal attention and engagement, which is so important with this disease. However much of my work is centered around the caregivers. When our caregivers are having more good days, they are even more focused on giving our residents more good days.