Date of Award


Document Type

Oral Presentation/Poster

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Health Science

Faculty Mentor

Ranelle Nissen, PhD, OTR/L


Professional caregiver, caregiver education, caregiver mental health, assisted living, long-term care, dementia, occupational therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational Therapy


The purpose of this capstone experience was to create a dementia caregiver education program to support caregivers in their role of caring for individuals with dementia. The first four weeks of the capstone experience were spent at Emerald Crest in Burnsville, MN, learning from an occupational therapist with more than 13 years of experience. Advanced knowledge was gained through engaging in OT evaluation and intervention sessions, completing two dementia certifications, interviewing staff members to highlight the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, and applying theory to practice. Knowledge was then synthesized, applied, and built upon to create a training manual for the second capstone site at a memory care assisted living facility in Cold Spring, MN. Training manual content was used in training new and current employees in dementia care approaches. Education and training were provided using three different methods: presentations at nursing stand-up meetings, 1:1 sit-down education, and hands-on training. Caregivers learned about communication approaches, person-centered care, the Allen Cognitive Levels, techniques for assisting with ADLs, behavior interventions, and ways to manage their mental health as caregivers. To establish program outcomes, caregiver interviews were conducted at the end of the capstone experience. Evaluation data showed improvements in caregivers’ communication skills and ability to connect with clients with dementia. Caregivers showed marked improvements in their ability to manage their mental health, using self-care strategies and psychosocial education to improve their overall well-being. Caregivers found the capstone experience helpful and preferred having a variety of training methods over one singular method. While the initial results are promising, further research is needed to understand the impact that OT-based, caregiver education and training has on patient outcomes.