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Donation to the SCC Nursing Program for Dementia Focus

John Barrett, center, recently made a generous gift in support of the SCC Nursing Program, specifically assisting with additions to the nursing curriculum in the area of communication with dementia patients. He is seen with Nursing Instructor and Simulation Lab Coordinator Karen Jilot-Elick, left, and Chair of the SCC Nursing Program Lynne Phifer on his right.

As with many cognitive disabilities, people often do not know how to recognize or interact effectively with those who have Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. John Barrett realized this when his wife, Mary Anne, struggled with Alzheimer’s.

Barrett recently made a generous gift to Sandhills Community College in support of the SCC Nursing Program, earmarked to assist with additions to the nursing curriculum in the area of communication with patients with dementia.

Barrett made the donation in memory Mary Anne, who passed away in 2014. He said that during their journey with the disease it was unfortunately not uncommon to come in contact with those in the healthcare profession who were unaware of the best techniques and methods for communicating with patients who were cognitively impaired.

Lynne Phifer, chair of the college’s nursing program, noted that when Barrett broached the idea, she realized that while communication is a key concept in the nursing curriculum, there was no specific lab simulation designed to practice the most effective and compassionate communication techniques unique to those with dementia. “Every year we see an increase of dementia diagnoses, and considering that our nursing program graduates will most likely find employment in settings where those with dementia and their caregivers will seek care and support, this will be a very valuable addition to their studies.”

This donation is not Barrett’s first foray into improving the situation of those with dementia and their caregivers. In late 2015 he and Amy Natt cofounded the local nonprofit AOS & Friends Care, Inc. Since then AOS&FC has provided over 30 direct care funding grants, given away more than two dozen robotic companion pets, set up 11 personalized music players, and started a monthly Memory Café. Learn more about this effort at www.aosfcare.org.

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