WinstonSalem State University’s occupational therapy program has received national recognition for launching a training certification to help healthcare professionals better care for those with dementia. The program launched Dementia Care Specialist Certification training this semester as an optional workshop for students and faculty. Sixteen OT students and faculty completed the training and exam to receive the Dementia Care Specialist certification.

The Crisis Prevention Institute’s Dementia Care Specialists, which offers the training, recently recognized the program and Dr. Cynthia Bell, associate professor of OT at WSSU who taught the course, as a “Dementia Capable Society Leader.” According to the Alzheimer’s Association, incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias has risen to more than 5 million, and by 2050 the number is expected to rise to 16 million.

“Preparing healthcare professionals to be able to provide individualized care that supports the ‘best ability to function’ and supports the caregivers is essential to providing best care for those with dementia,” Bell said. “Our students have gained additional knowledge and skills and are poised to become leaders in advocating for best care practices for those with dementia.”

Bell was recently awarded a $2,500 institutional grant to support the program. Her vision is to expand dementia training across the campus and into the community.