Dementia, What is the Montessori Way?
Monday, January 18th, 2021 | Uncategorized
Finding a cure for dementia has always been at the forefront of the collective focus of science, healthcare and the general public, but one aspect many don’t consider for those with neuro-degenerative conditions is the care they receive. With plenty of demand and a lack of resources to go around at times, most care homes and establishments typically provide a one-size-fits-all approach to dementia care. The problem is, we know a lot of dementia symptoms can vary. It’s similar in some ways to autism, where two different people can have almost completely different symptoms.
This is where the Montessori Way aims to change the status quo for dementia care. Originally developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori in the early 1900s, the Montessori method of teaching prioritises independence in a learning environment. Although it was originally developed around teaching children, many of the methods and the general school of thought can be applied to the care environment for those living with dementia.
So, what does the Montessori method look like in action? It’s a mix of different things, namely; activities geared towards independent learning, a focus on how carers address and treat individuals, creating clear and focused social roles and empowering individuals with confidence and self-belief. The idea is to shift away from nurses and carers doing everything and put the focus on those living with dementia to relearn what skills they can.
Montessori also aims to move away from the one-size-fits-all model and focus more on creating a care environment that’s unique to individuals. As previously mentioned, dementia is a term that encompasses a multitude of neurological conditions, so a care environment in which activities and care are personalised to the individual can provide huge benefits. This is why a major focus of the Montessori method is on those teaching and practicing it, ensuring they understand the core principles. Without the full cooperation of those staff, it can be difficult to ensure individuals are receiving the full benefits Montessori can provide.
In recent years, numerous studies into the efficacy of the Montessori methods of teaching and its application in a dementia care environment have shown improvements. A 2015 study by the University of Waterloo found that Montessori-based care activities improved 11 of the 15 participant’s cognitive abilities and showed fewer declines. While there still needs to be more research into its benefits, there’s definitely enough so far to show it could have wide-reaching positive effects in care scenarios across the world.
The Montessori Way is already commonly used across a number of countries including America, Canada and Australia. It’s currently being trialled across the UK, with a number of organisations offering to visit homes and educate staff on how to care for those with dementia using the Montessori method. While it’s not something that is suitable for every home and setting, hopefully in the coming months and years we will see a shift in the way society as a whole supports and cares for those with dementia.
The Montessori ethos of giving those with dementia independence ties in very closely with the work of one of our partnered organisations, NAPA. The National Activity Providers Association also aims to change the way we support the elderly by creating engaging and rewarding activities that enrich the lives of those in care homes. Far too often, entertainment relies on the same tired old activities that fail to challenge or stimulate those taking part. As a society, there’s been a tendency to treat the elderly the same way we do children, but in reality, those living in care homes or environments want to live fulfilling lives.
While the Montessori Way and NAPA might not bring the change we need overnight, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Hinting at a future where care for the elderly and those living with dementia is not simply a one-size-fits-all model, but instead we base care on the individual needs of the person and facilitate an enriching and fulfilling life.
If you would like to find out more about the Montessori Way, please click the link below:
NAPA are also hosting an Open Course Programme 2021 - Dementia the Montessori Way - Supporting independence, giving a sense of purpose and raising self-esteem through activity.
Delivered by: Lynn Phair
Date: Wednesday 20th January 2021
Time: 10:00 – 15:30
Course fee: £49.99 per delegate
Places still available - To book please visit:
For more information contact Sue Trischitta -
If you would like to find out more about the National Activity Providers Association, please click the link below: