Ajax LTC hospital unveils Behavioural Support Unit for dementia, mental health patients

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Published September 27, 2023 at 12:28 pm

The Ajax Lakeridge Gardens long-term care home has opened a new Behavioural Support Transition Unit (BSTU) to support patients with dementia and mental health concerns.

According to Behavioural Supports Ontario, a BSTU is designed to “provide specialized care to individuals with responsive behaviours and/or personal expressions that cannot be effectively supported in their current environment.” BSTU is a place for patients to go after other options have been attempted and failed.

“Specialized care in a BSTU is required due to the frequency, severity and/or level of risk that the responsive behaviours/personal expressions pose towards themselves, co-residents, visitors and/or staff members. A BSTU offers specialized and increased staffing, a tailored environment, focussed behavioural assessment and enhanced care planning,” Behavioural Supports Ontario explained.

These kinds of responses and expressions can lead to violence from patients in reaction to stimuli or events which frustrate or overwhelm them.

“The BSTU will provide individuals and their families with the necessary tools, therapies, and de-escalation strategies to control responsive and reactive behaviours – actions, words or gestures presented by a person living with dementia, mental health, and other neurological illnesses as a response to something negative, frustrating, or confusing in their environment. Examples of these behaviours may include hitting, grabbing onto people, or pushing,” Lakeridge Health elaborated.

Lakeridge Gardens Administrator Lisa McVety said she was happy to see the new unit open, “We are so proud to offer this service to our Durham Region communities,” she said, “This new BSTU will improve the quality of life for residents and their families. We recognize that demand for such services is high in our region and continues to increase. We’re so grateful for the support of our government partners to make this opening possible.”

“The family is a key partner in the care of people living with responsive behaviours,” said Lakeridge Gardens Chief and Medical Director Dr. Joel Kennedy, “This new BSTU is great news for our community. In partnership with families, the specially trained staff enable individuals and residents to return home and to the community sooner, while avoiding unnecessary hospital visits.”

Lakeridge Gardens is one of the newest additions to Lakeridge Health’s network. The 320-bed facility opened in March 2022 as the first such project under Ontario’s Accelerated Build pilot program. The LTC quickly drew attention and was awarded for innovation twice in its first year.

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