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Getting to Know…Validation Presenter Stacey Hand

UPDATE (Sept. 26, 2016): The ‘Worker’ course mentioned in this article has been re-scheduled from Oct. 3 to a date to be determined. Once we have determined the new date, we will update all interested parties. Thanks!

Editor’s Note: The Validation Training Institute (VTI)—in partnership with Alzheimer’s Orange County—will offer a “Validation Internet-Supported Level I ‘Worker’ Course” that starts on Oct. 3, 2016 and runs until August 2017.

In advance of the course, VTI is offering a free, 30-minute “teaser” class on Sept. 19 that will be open to 47 lucky attendees. The teaser class will be a preview of the longer course. As an added bonus, teaser class attendees will also receive a 15 percent discount coupon code that can be applied to the Oct. 3 course. For more information, on both the teaser and the Level I Worker Course, visit the course page.

In the time leading up to both the teaser and the longer course, we will be sharing “Q&As” with the certified instructors who will be presenting the curriculum. Today is the second installment of that three-part series. Today, we’ll meet Validation Presenter Stacey Hand.

VTI: Thank you for joining us today, Stacey. So, where do you live now?

SH: Shreveport, Louisiana

validation, dementia, caregiver, online class

VTI: What do you do for a living?

SH: I’m a Gerontologist at Garden Park Nursing & Rehabilitation

VTI: What do you like to do when you are not working?

SH: Cooking, visiting with friends, reading, and I am a certified feng shui practitioner! I always love a road trip.

VTI: What/who got you interested in Validation?

SH: I heard Naomi Feil speak at an all-day workshop and I was spellbound!  I was working at a CCRC at the time and could immediately think of so many residents I worked with that I could really help instead of placating. I knew using Validation could profoundly improve their (and my) quality of life.

VTI: How long have you been a teacher?

SH: I am currently certified as a Validation Presenter.  I will be assisting with the teaching of this course under the guidance and mentorship of an Experienced Teacher in order to meet the one of requirements for becoming a full-fledged teacher.

VTI: Was there a specific moment when you first realized Validation worked? If so, what was that moment?

SH: I knew in my heart after just hearing about it that it must work because it made so much sense to me.  But when I began the Worker course and used the skills that I was learning, the experience was stunning.  Sometimes the difference was in my ability to respond and empathize appropriately—and how I felt about this—and sometimes the difference was in the resident’s response to my empathetic approach and use of techniques.  Almost every time I used a Validating technique, I experienced incredibly satisfying moments of real connection to the unique individual I was Validating.

VTI: What the most important thing Validation has taught you?

SH: The importance of empathy and an empathetic approach to individuals with disorientation or dementia.  And I also have to say that I especially appreciate the Validating approach to letting elders experience their “negative” feelings instead of trying to cheer them up, look on the bright side, or otherwise focus on always making them happy!

VTI: What is the most challenging part about practicing Validation?

SH: The biggest challenge is helping other staff and families engage using a more Validating approach.  They tend to want “quick fixes” and often move through their interactions too quickly to make real connections.

VTI: Why should a student invest in a class, as opposed to simply reading a book on Validation?

SH: I’ve read the book so many times the pages are falling out.  I’ve learned a lot from it and continue to do so.  However, the depth of understanding required to use the techniques effectively requires more than reading.  Watching the techniques modeled, practicing them yourself, asking questions and exploring, evaluating your own practice…the discipline and opportunity of all of these aspects of the class are what enable you to truly to become a practitioner.

VTI: Who can most benefit from this class?

SH: Anyone who has regular contact with very old or old-old persons will benefit greatly.  It might be a friend, family member, or those you care for as an occupation, but whoever it is, you will be able to offer both them and yourself a hugely improved quality of life through use of Validation, and ultimately you can play a role in helping disoriented old-old persons to die in peace.

VTI: Anything else you’d like to add?

SH: Learning Validation will change your life.  That’s a promise!