Dementia Heroes: Teepa Snow

One of the leading educators on dementia, and the care that accompanies it, Teepa Snow travels across the globe, running seminars and training sessions educating people about living with, and caring for those with, dementia. She is most well-known in part for her GEMS classification – which describes the six stages of dementia, each named after a precious stone, and aims to clearly explain what people with dementia are experiencing at each stage. The classification focuses on providing the appropriate caregiving strategies for each stage, to enable caregivers ‘to meet people where they are’.

Snow says: “The task is not more important than the relationship.” Her work centres around broadening peoples understanding of dementia, and therefore the way that people living with dementia are cared for. Her company, Positive Approach to Care (PAC), provides training, services, and products around the world, and in addition she has written books and produced several training DVDs. Her teaching style is unique and dynamic – she believes we should ‘show, not tell’, and so she demonstrates and models different forms and behaviours within dementia for her students, acting out scenarios, and the appropriate responses to them. She says: “I do a special kind of experiential training called multi-modal learning. I help people go from what they think they know about dementia, to greater awareness. I help build knowledge behind why people with dementia, or other forms of brain change, are doing what they are doing. Also, I help build skill because, if you are going to make a difference, you’ve got to change. The condition is changing them. The question is, what are you going to do about it?”

Snow is an advocate for those living with dementia and has made it her personal mission to help families and professionals better understand how it feels to be living with the challenges and changes that accompany various forms of the condition so that life can be lived fully and well. Rewiring our own perceptions, attitudes, communication strategies, actions, and responses provides the shift that promotes change for the others around us.

You can see an example of her in action here, and find out more about her here.