It was an exciting day in the fall of 2016, when The Hub on Smith was awarded a three-year federal grant from Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. The grant allowed for expansion and significant strengthening of Sheridan County’s dementia capability for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. The focus is on improving awareness, early diagnosis, access to services and improved quality of care. Over the last three years, six programs have been implemented.

Dementia awareness and education, including general business, financial, legal, faith and first responders have been provided to over 800 individuals in 80 organizations. Volunteers and staff are continuing to provide educational opportunities to help everyone understand dementia, recognize the signs and change the way people think, act and talk about dementia. The Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors is coordinating efforts to build community awareness through the senior center network statewide.

The Support Center, developed to assist caregivers and persons living with dementia, transitioned to The Hub. Jamie Hoeft, Support Care coordinator, is overseeing the development of a comprehensive one-stop access point within The Hub that creates a client-centered experience, ensuring all clients’ needs are met. A client is either referred for ongoing support and consultation for care partners or to Amanda Lawson for ongoing support for persons living alone. The Support Center coordinates continuing support when needed and makes referrals to other Hub services as well as services throughout the community.

Heather Comstock, dementia care educator, is continuing to provide “Positive Approach to Care” workshops for professional and family care partners. Through a number of certifications, including Positive Approach to Care training, coaching, consultation and engagement, validation, Virtual Dementia Tour and Opening Minds through Art, Heather is now creating streamlined education for all of the departments at The Hub and engagement for persons living with dementia at Day Break and other venues. Over the next year, a marketing plan will be developed to offer a menu of educational components to other senior centers, home health agencies, faith communities and hospital staff around the state.

Health care education for health care providers and care coordinators has been provided to the staff at Sheridan Memorial Hospital, stressing the importance of early detection despite the barriers, use of a screening tool and referrals for further diagnosis, and the importance of creating a care plan connecting to services in the community.

SMH Internal Medicine is partnering to make referrals to The Hub Support Center for care coordination, especially when a diagnosis is made. A three-module video training for care coordinators is being created and will be shared with hospitals statewide to provide ongoing training.

The Intellectual Development Disabilities and Dementia Education has been delivered to staff at Rehabilitation Enterprises of North Eastern Wyoming, Easter Seals, Medicaid waiver case managers and other statewide organizations by Jamie Hoeft. The goal of the training is to provide greater access to periodic screening, early and accurate diagnosis and more support as the disease progresses. The Hub will support the work of the Center on Aging in Laramie to assure additional statewide training.

The Friendly Visitor program is highly successful. Ten active volunteer visitors are making weekly visits to persons living with dementia, providing socialization and transportation to essential errands and appointments. This program is currently being transitioned to The Hub.

The time for completion of the grant initiatives has been extended to March 31, 2020, to allow for assuring sustainability and sharing successes with communities around Wyoming.

A Wyoming Summit “Creating Dementia Capable Communities,” will be held Oct. 17-18 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Sheridan. Senior centers and other individuals and organizations from around the state will be present to learn more about building person-centered, relationship-based supports and services for person living with dementia in their communities.


Kay Wallick is program director for Dementia Friendly Wyoming.