115: How This Social Model of Care is Improving Quality of Life for Those with Dementia

So many of our clients here at Absolute Trust Counsel struggle with dementia. In fact, it’s currently estimated that there will be 14 million people with dementia in the United States by 2060. That means there will be just as many, if not more, taking on the role of caregiver as well.

Dementia patients and caretakers often suffer from isolation and loneliness, finding it difficult to enjoy life like they used to. Those with dementia gradually lose themselves, unable to participate in activities they love, and caretakers can struggle with the ongoing responsibilities. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Those living with dementia and their families can still find joy, meaning, and purpose thanks to a volunteer-driven social model of care known as Respite Ministry.

In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk, we’re speaking with Daphne Johnston, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Respite for All Foundation. Daphne has always been passionate about helping families impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s. For over 15 years, she worked as an executive director in senior living administration before stepping into the non-profit world of the faith community in 2012 when her senior pastor, Dr. Lawson Bryan, asked her to develop a volunteer model to support families living with dementia. With the incredible initial success of the program hosted at her local church in Montgomery, Alabama, she joined care partner Warren Barrow to officially establish the Respite for All Foundation and reach more communities all over the US.

Join us as we discuss:

  • How the Respite for All Foundation got started and quickly grew, as well as their plans and goals for the future
  • How the organization is taking a new approach to respite support through a social model of care
  • The positive impact that Respite for All has, not only on caretakers and participants, but also on volunteers and the community as a whole
  • What you need to start a Respite for All program in your area

And more.

If you’ve been diagnosed with dementia, or are a caretaker, it’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed, especially when it comes to getting affairs in order. We’re here to help you, and we know that this episode will provide the hope and inspiration you need or maybe encourage you to start a Respite Community in your neighborhood. So, let’s dive in!

Big Three from Episode #115:

  1. Dementia is a prevalent issue that affects millions of lives. It is difficult and scary for those with the diagnosis and puts a strain on caretakers, family, and friends. We often see the negative impact of neurodegenerative disease on our clients at Absolute Trust Counsel. Still, there is hope for relief, thanks to a non-profit organization that’s offering new ways of dementia management. Respite for All uses a social model of support, and this new approach is changing lives and improving the quality of life for all involved.
  2. Respite focuses on giving primary caretakers a much-needed break from the daily responsibilities required to care for a loved one with dementia, but this support doesn’t stop there. Participants also receive a break from their caregivers – they have fun and feel valued by being an integral part of the community through several service projects and activities. Volunteers also get incredible value from the program by reducing their post-retirement isolation and giving back to others by providing joy and friendship.
  3. Being reliant on volunteers, needing minimal training, and providing all guidance necessary, Respite for All is a sustainable and easy-to-implement model. This has resulted in incredible growth, with 27 programs across seven states in just five years. All you need to get started in your community is a free space to use and a plan for providing hot lunches – no large investments, medical staff, or business planning is needed here. Respite for All will supply everything else – the training, schedule, routine, activity ideas, and more.

Time-stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

0:12 Before jumping in, find out how the news surrounding California State Senator Dianne Feinstein is an excellent real-life example of estate planning in action.

3:14 Now, on to the main topic of the show! Many of our clients are struggling with dementia, but now, thanks to a brilliantly simple model for a whole new way of helping people affected by the disease, there is a newfound sense of hope.

4:21 Meet our special guest on today’s show, Respite for All Founder and Executive Director Daphne Johnston.

5:35 Start listening now to find out how Daphne found her passion for working with people affected by dementia and how it ultimately led to the creation of the Respite for All Foundation.

7:31 How did a small ministry at a local church in Montgomery, Alabama, grow to 27 different programs across seven states and form a nonprofit foundation? It answered a vital need for dementia support in the community.

9:29 Respite for All is only continuing to grow! Learn more about how they’re positively impacting more and more communities, including special updates on the most recent community developments in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

10:15 Respite for All takes a slightly different approach to support those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia by using a volunteer-based social model of care. They don’t need more nurses, doctors, or medication. They need people!

12:55 Curious about what a typical day looks like in the program? Listen in as Daphne talks about what the structure might look like.

16:26 The Respite for All Programs aren’t just beneficial for caregivers and volunteers. This story that Daphne shares about BB and Eileen says it all and helps demonstrate how the role of a volunteer is reimagined.

18:58 There are a lot of benefits for the participants; one surprising gift is that it gives the person living with the disease a break from the caregiver too.

22:59 Respite for All is a program dependent on volunteers who must also complete training, but in a way that has never left any community short-staffed. Daphne lets us in on the secrets to success.

26:00 Can you have too many volunteers? Or not enough participants? Many have doubts and misconceptions about the volunteer model and need more participants, but you need a crowd, and the volunteers are a part of the group!

28:16 Respite for All has plans to continue to grow and make an impact all across the country – here’s how they’re doing it.

30:04 Did you know that over 12 million people are living with dementia right now? And that means at least 12 million caregivers are affected as well. Dive in here to learn more about Daphne’s book, “Reclaiming Joy Together,” where she explains why dementia-friendly communities are paramount.

32:17 Feeling inspired to start a Respite for All in your community? Here are the basics you need to get started.

34:25 Q&A: Do you only work with Christian churches? No, we work with any denomination or organization with free space and a rich volunteer base.

35:59 Q&A: Do you charge money to come to your Respite program? Yes, we do, but we don’t make it hard for anyone to join.

37:36 Q&A: Does each program have Some paid staff? Yes!

39:21 A final word from Daphne: Get your affairs in order because you never know what could happen.

Get in Touch with Daphne Johnston:
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Respite for All
Phone: 334.440.9911
Email: daphne@respiteforall.org

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Episode:

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