In 2001, SAIDO Learning was developed as a method to disrupt the symptoms of memory decline. This year, the Japanese-founded model of care for Alzheimer’s and dementia has found its way to Heron’s Key.
By consistently using reading comprehension, writing and arithmetic exercises repeatedly every day, Heron’s Key residents living in Penrose Harbor have been able to improve symptoms of cognitive decline. Through functional brain imaging research, it was found that the brain is mostly activated by three important factors: reading aloud, solving simple math problems, and positive communication and praise.
Penrose Harbor residents are called the “Learners” in this program and the staff members are the “Supporters”. Each day for 30 minutes, two Learners meet with a Supporter to engage in SAIDO Learning.
The Learners will complete worksheets and write the time it takes them to complete them when finished. After finishing the task, the Learner will receive a big “100” every time on their paper which provides immediate feedback and praise, a key principle of SAIDO Learning. While the typical education system grades are based off percentage correct, SAIDO is not academic. The object is for them to engage in repeated successful accomplishment of basic material, then move on to new material at their own individual level and pace.
By completing the assignments and receiving their 100s, residents are engaged in meaningful, positive interactions. This ultimately interrupts symptoms of memory decline while also increasing energy, improving memory, and helping residents gain a larger social capacity and more confidence.
When the lessons become too easy for the Learner, they are bumped up to a slightly more difficult “just right” level. The goal of SAIDO is not to teach the residents new information, but to engage them in mental stimulation while providing positive encouragement and bonding with other residents and staff.
Currently, four Penrose Harbor residents are involved in the SAIDO Learning program. Their loved ones are already seeing a huge difference in their disposition and memory capacity. Heron’s Key is looking forward to training more staff members to be involved in SAIDO and ultimately help more residents.
One of the best parts of SAIDO training is that all Heron’s Key staff members, regardless of their work area, can participate in SAIDO with residents. Employees who do not have daily interactions with residents enjoy the opportunity to get to know residents in a more personal setting and help in ways outside of their regular sector.
Heron’s Key also received a grant to ensure staff members have SAIDO training and will continue to use these funds with additional training throughout the year. Sandi Semler, Heron’s Key Social Services Coordinator and SAIDO Chief Lead Supporter and trainer, has several trainings already scheduled to engage more staff members in the SAIDO Learning program.
In just a few months, SAIDO has made a huge impact on the residents, their families and the staff members. The program is continuing to grow at Heron’s Key and Sandi hopes their progress will impact other senior living communities across the Puget Sound.