Gerontological Nursing Leadership Academy (GNLA) Fellowship Experience: Optimizing Quality Care for Persons Living With Dementia

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Nichole T. Spencer, MSN
Department of Nursing, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO, USA
Angie Norman, DNP
Arkansas Aging Initiative, El Dorado, AR, USA
Nelma B. Crawford Shearer, PhD
College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

The purpose of this poster presentation is to present my journey as a selected Fellow of the Gerontological Leadership Academy (GNLA) co-hort five. Support and knowledge is provided to the GNLA Fellow by leadership mentors and faculty advisors of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) to enhance the Fellow’s leadership abilities. There are three domains of focus; individual leadership development, advancing nursing practice through an inter-professional leadership project, and expanding scope of influence impacting the care of the aging adult.

Utilizing “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership” developed by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, known worldwide as the K-P model, has enhanced my leadership development. As a GNLA fellow I completed intense self-reflections and reviewed colleague evaluations to gain direction for my leadership growth. As I ventured to make change for the persons living with dementia, my individual focus became one of encouraging the hearts of others as well as my own. I learned to speak from my heart with compassion to inspire others in providing quality care. I placed emphasis on modeling the way as I worked along side caregivers in developing processes and interventions to improve the quality of life for those living with dementia.

These amended professional behaviors assisted with the facilitation of an inter-professional team project that concentrated on increasing the toolbox for the caregivers of persons living with dementia. These new tools and systems provided opportunities of individualized interventions to be used instead of using anti-psychotic or psychotropic meds as a first response to address problematic behaviors. This team project raised the awareness of selected stake-holders including family members, activity directors, home-makers, certified medication assistants, nurses, social workers and certified nurses assistance. With the assistance and direction from a deliberately selected mentor and assigned faculty advisor, the success of the GNLA project: Increased quality for persons living with dementia and their caregivers is an ongoing success.

Because of this inter-professional team project and the enhancement of my leadership skills, I continue to seek opportunities to expand my scope of influence. In addition to the heightened awareness of the community with where the project is being completed, I engage undergraduate nursing students on increasing the quality of life for persons living with dementia by completing literature reviews, research with caregiver role satisfaction, and data collection. My scope of influence has expanded to include: (1) presenting the effectiveness of the non-pharmacological interventions and the ongoing outcomes at a regional meeting for Gerontological Advanced Practice Nursing Association (GAPNA); (2) becoming a participant on the Kansas Partnership Committee for the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes; and (3) completing the Dementia Practitioner Certification enabling me to become a trainer certifying others in the well-being focused dementia care.

Prior to the GNLA fellowship, I believed that my passion and influence was limited to undergraduate nursing students I taught in the classroom and the patients with dementia for whom I provided care. The GNLA has provided me the opportunity to expand my leadership knowledge and skills. As a Fellow in the GNLA, I am impacting the lives of older adults diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers across locally as well as across many states.