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Ecumen Awakenings received a 2015 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award from Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson for its outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life of those living with dementia.
In a December 4, 2015, ceremony, Commissioner Jesson, along with Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, honored Ecumen and six other organizations across the state for sharing DHS’s commitment to supporting healthy people, stable families and strong communities.
Ecumen Awakenings is an integrated, holistic approach to care that emphasizes managing Alzheimer’s and related dementias without highly sedating drugs and improving residents’ quality of life. Residents, their families, doctors and care staff all work together to replace traditional drug therapies with individualized techniques that reduce anxiety and difficult behaviors.
In 2010 Ecumen received a DHS grant to introduce Awakenings at 15 skilled nursing sites after the success of a pilot program created by Ecumen staff. Over the three-year period of this grant, Awakenings achieved a 97 per cent reduction in the use of psychotropic medications, decreasing dosage or discontinuing use of more than 1,000 of these potentially harmful drugs. In 2014, Ecumen received another DHS grant for a one-year pilot program to bring Awakenings to 14 of Ecumen’s 33 assisted living communities.
“These organizations are making a true difference in the lives of the people they serve,” Jesson said of the Circle of Excellence award recipients. “They are going above and beyond… They represent the very best of many successful partnerships to help people live in dignity and achieve their highest potential, and exemplify all of the great human services work happening across Minnesota.”
For the awards ceremony, DHS commissioned a three-minute video (below) to capture the essence of the Ecumen Awakenings program.