Online Training Modules to Implement the Abilities Care Approach™

Clients with dementia living in skilled nursing facilities have occupational needs that are often unmet. Individualized care approaches and engagement in meaningful activities are effective non-pharmacologic approaches to dementia care. However, they are infrequently implemented in SNFs, and patients with dementia are often medicated with antipsychotic medications to manage behavioral symptoms related to dementia.

Occupational therapy practitioners and students who practice in SNFs may benefit from training to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs required to meet the unique occupational needs of clients with dementia who reside in long-term care SNF communities.


  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services created a national partnership in 2012 to improve dementia care in nursing homes
  • Individualized to interests and backgrounds
  • Tailored to the cognitive and physical abilities of an individual
  • Considers medical needs and complications

Abilities Care Approach to Dementia:

  • Meets the occupational needs of clients with dementia
  • Based on the cognitive disability model
  • Utilizes a collaborative model of care, partnering with caregivers to adapt caregiving approaches and the environment to engage clients in meaningful occupations
  • Includes the creation of individualized activity prescriptions, care approaches and life-story boards

Abilities Care Approach Process

Implementation: Online Training Program

The online training program is available to OT practitioners and students through Ensign-affiliated SNFs. It incorporates effective teaching methods, including opportunities for student reflection, interaction with content, self-assessment of learning and application.


The training program is designed to:

  • Prepare OT practitioners to provide evidence-based, reimbursable services in an emerging practice area
  • Support reflection on the beliefs and values of OTs making the shift to a collaborative model of care
  • Familiarize OT practitioners with the Abilities Care Approach tools and resources available on the Portal

Note that additional references and literature are available upon request for those interested in implementing the Abilities Care Approach to Dementia.

By Gina Tucker-Roghi, OTD, OTR/L, Therapy Resource, Northern CA