Unique Issues, Holistic Approaches: A Conversation with Jamie Wilson Headley

Posted on: October 13, 2014 | 0 Comments |


For Rev. Jamie Wilson Headley, Dementia Services Group isn’t a job — it’s a mission. She founded DSG after her own mother’s dementia brought to light the need for a multi-faceted approach in helping dementia patients and their families navigate a complicated, difficult path.

Jamie’s passion and empathy are complemented by a CDP, CDI, CSA, and MBA. Although every family faces unique challenges, Jamie is determined to ensure that she and Dementia Services Group will help clients weather the storms that dementia can bring.

Today, Jamie is here to share her thoughts as an advocate, advisor, and educator. You can also read about her personal experiences with her mother’s dementia on Jamie’s Journey.

We don’t try to do a one size fits all approach because every situation is different.Jamie Wilson Headley

When a once-independent loved one is struck by dementia, there are suddenly so many details to consider. In your experience, what are the most pressing or unexpected worries that clients face after their loved one has been diagnosed?

Most people are not highly informed when it comes to dementia and other brain disorders.  In short, they don’t know what they don’t know.  So often families are not as worried as they should be.

However, by far the biggest issue is safety.  A person with dementia can become very disoriented or confused with out warning.  They may have been able to drive home or manage finances last week but can not today — and there is no way to predict when that will happen. They are also more vulnerable to infections and delirium, which can make cognition much worse and increase safety issues like wandering.

And of course there is the issue of managing finances and becoming a victim to people who prey on the cognitively impaired.  There is so much to consider and plan for.

…the whole process can be overwhelming.Jamie Wilson Headley

In your opinion, what might be the most difficult part of the process of finding proper care for a loved one?

There are many things that need to be considered when choosing care:  level of care needed, financial impact, ability for families to visit, proper environment for the person, and getting them to willingly accept care, just to name a few.  So the whole process can be overwhelming.

I found out the hard way when I went through this with my Mother that the Internet is NOT the way to find the best care.  I made a lot of mistakes because I just didn’t know who I could trust and I could not find anyone who really understood what my family needed on a comprehensive level.  That is why we approach each client situation individually.  We don’t try to do a one size fits all approach because every situation is different.

Finances are almost always an issue where healthcare is concerned. How have you helped families find the financial resources for doctor’s visits and personal care for their loved ones?

Once we understand what a person’s care needs are, we can then take an overall look at the finances to help the family determine what they need and what they can afford.  We consider things like long term care insurance and how to use that benefit, if they are eligible for VA benefits or Medicaid programs etc.  We also have a strong group of financial advisors and attorneys that we can refer to if needed.

We try to create strategies that help the person with dementia participate in decisions as much as possible and help them feel like they are still in control.Jamie Wilson Headley

What are some of your first actions when DSG becomes involved with a family in need of your services?

We work with the family to identify their objectives and then how we can help them achieve those.  Some families just need a little guidance while some really want and need our full range of services.  We always focus our action plans around the four pillars, which are safety, quality of life, dignity and perception of independence.  Perception of independence is important because no one wants to lose control of their life.  We try to create strategies that help the person with dementia participate in decisions as much as possible and help them feel like they are still in control.

I constantly meet people who say, ‘I wish I had known about your company 2 years ago when I was going through the dementia journey.’Jamie Wilson Headley

What are some ways in which you want to see DSG grow in the next few years?

Growth is essential to really fulfilling our mission of changing dementia care and helping families.  We have vetted the value proposition and know that our services are very needed and that there is a substantial demand for them.  The keys to growing are:

  1. Ensure we have a solid operational foundation and infrastructure so we can easily clone our existing locations and their high success rate.  I have seen companies try to grow without that foundation and it ultimately destroys them. We won’t do that.
  2. Marketing and advertising.  Our business model is totally unique so people don’t know who we are or that we can help. I constantly meet people who say, “I wish I had known about your company 2 years ago when I was going through the dementia journey.” So getting the word out will be critical.
  3. Continue our total commitment to training and learning.  A huge part of our value to clients is our expansive knowledge of dementia and other cognitive disorders, so we will always continue to stay on top of the latest information and care options.

Our goal is to expand locations to IL and OH over the next 24 months.  Long term, we will continue to add locations in other metro areas.  We want a national presence.  If we are awarded the Mission Main Street grant that will allow us to have the funding to grow but we would also be given the opportunity to work with Google’s small business consultants, which will ensure we have the right growth plan.

It is all very exciting.  I hope my Mom and Grandmother are watching us striving to make a difference.

Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Please Help Us Reach More Families

At DSG, we want to help even more families affected by dementia. We’ve applied for the Mission Main StreetSM Grant, sponsored by Chase and Google, and we need 250 votes by Oct. 16th to move to the next round.

Please help us realize our goal of changing the world of dementia care! This grant would give us the ability to help more families and change the way care is provided to those with dementia.

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Jamie's Journey

In 2007, Jamie Wilson (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.

Jamie's Journey is deeply personal, but also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring for someone with dementia.

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