Your Resource for Aging Information & Best Practices in Senior Care

Birch Bay’s Learning Institute is your resource for aging information and best practices in geriatric care.

Ways We Can Help:

  • Dementia Education
  • Healthy Aging classes for Seniors
  • Healthcare training for students including CRMA/CNA or PSS Certification Classes
  • Music Therapy presentations

Our partnership with the MDI Adult Education program has helped train students as certified nurse’s assistants.

Our Dementia Symposium in June 2017, along with partners The Jackson Laboratory and the Alzheimer’s Association-Maine Chapter, featured sessions on “Genetic variants and environmental risks for Alzheimer’s Disease” by researchers from The Jackson Laboratory, “Effective Communication Strategies” from the Alzheimer’s Association, and presentations on Music Therapy.

We have provided education to:

2017 Dementia Symposium

Our Education Team

Peter Sullivan, RN-BC

Birch Bay Village - Peter Sullivan, Executive DirectorBirch Bay’s Executive Director, Peter Sullivan, MBA, RN-BC is board-certified in Gerontological Nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the country’s leading agency in nurse certification. Peter has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare including; acute care, long-term care, managed care, and healthcare administration. Peter came to Birch Bay Retirement Village because of his love for working with adults in all stages of the aging process, as well as a desire to provide education and support to individuals and families on Mount Desert Island. As part of Birch Bay’s commitment to the community, Peter facilitates Caregiver Support Groups and teaches community education classes for adults interested in better understanding and managing their own health.

Some Examples of Peter’s Presentations:

“Normal Aging/ Not Normal Aging”

This workshop helps learners understand and recognize the differences in “normal” and “not normal” aging. The learner will develop better observational skills to recognize and intervene effectively when behavioral challenges occur. Learners will also develop new skills related to approach, cueing, and ability to connect with people affected by dementia. The workshop emphasizes the value of matching helping behaviors to the person’s needs and retained abilities to promote a sense of control and self-direction. The workshop will also address typical issues that occur from early stages of the condition, through mid-disease, and into the final care concerns that are part of the progression.

“Positive Physical Approach™ (PPA) and Hand Under Hand™ (HUH)”

This workshop focuses on Positive Approach to Care “care partnering” techniques, including Positive Physical Approach™ (PPA) and Hand Under Hand™ (HUH). These newly learned skills enable care partners to shift from simply “dealing with the behaviors” to creating a positive and caring environment. Learners develop observational skills needed to recognize signals of “unmet needs and growing distress” in the person they care for and respond in a way that reduces anxiety and improves quality of life.

“Teepa’s GEMS™; Using Skills that Make a Difference”

The GEMS™ workshop offers an overview Teepa Snow’s dementia classification model (developed from the basic structure of Allen Cognitive Disability Levels). The GEMS model compares different states of being and ability to the characteristics of precious jewels. This dignified metaphor defines normal aging as well as the many appearances, behavioral changes, skill sets and needs of those living with the effects of neurocognitive failure (dementia) or other brain changes. They should be considered indicators and a guide toward understanding an individual’s current state of ability and brain function. Understanding them will lead to an adjustment of expectations, modification of cues and support, and more accurate communication and ‘hands-on’ care behaviors to better meet ever-changing needs. The GEMS™ advocate that people living with dementia, when done with rather than done to and provided with the just right care and setting, can still shine.

Methods of teaching:

Theses workshops includes a combination of lecture, discussion, role play, group interaction, case discussion, and problem-solving among learners to actively engage learners in the content. Video training, handouts, power point presentation, and role playing may be used throughout the session. Peter Sullivan RN-BC, the workshop facilitator is a Certified Positive Approach to Care Trainer and is qualified to facilitate workshops and train others in the PAC philosophy.

GEMS™ classification and POSITIVE APPROACH™ techniques, strategies, and overall approach to care were created and developed by Teepa Snow, Positive Approach, LLC. GEMS™ classification and POSITIVE APPROACH™ are trademarks of Positive Approach, LLC.

Melissa Violette, MT-BC, NMT

Birch Bay Village Staff - Melissa VioletteMelissa Violette is a board certified neurologic music therapist. Melissa brings her 26 years of music therapy experience in mental health. Melissa believes strongly in the healing power of music.

“I have the best job in the world! Music Therapy is my calling and, without question, what I was meant to do in life, as it combines my desire to help people with my passion for music. I want to make the world a better place in the time I have, even if it’s in a small way and just one person at a time.”

Melissa can provide education to area agencies about the benefits of music therapy.

Some Examples of Melissa’s Presentations

Aging, Dementia and What Matters Most

What is Music Therapy, the Benefits of Music Therapy with Dementia, How Caregivers can use music for self-care

Music Therapy & Dementia

Learn what Music Therapy is and is not, how Music effects the brain and the benefits of Music Therapy with Dementia.

Sentimental Journey; The role of Music Therapy in Elder Care

What is Music Therapy, and how can it benefit the Elders at your facility and why you need to have it at your establishment.

James Hoke, MBA, CDP

Our Director of Programs & Resident Engagement James Hoke is a Certified Dementia Practitioner by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, a leading organization in developing standards, guidelines, and educational programs for professionals and caregivers who strive to meet the diverse needs of those who suffer from dementia. James provides educational and interactive programs and presentations on dementia and life enrichment topics to individuals, caregivers, and our local community.


Some Examples of James’s Presentations

Habilitation Therapy Approach to Person-Centered Dementia Care

Person-Centered Dementia Care: A Habilitation Therapy Training Curriculum is a 13-hour professional training program by the Alzheimer’s Association which successfully incorporates the evidence-based Dementia Care Practice Recommendations in the following topic areas: Alzheimer’s and dementia, person-centered care, assessment and care planning, activities of daily living, behaviors and communications, and supporting families and caring for ourselves.

Life Enrichment: Re-Discovering Purpose through Engagement

Learn how dementia can affect one’s self-image, meaning in life, and sense of purpose, and how Life Enrichment approaches reconnecting individuals living with dementia to finding meaning and purpose in their lives through social, sensory, physical, and mental engagement, and why it is important.

For more information on our education opportunities, call Birch Bay at 288-8014.

Learn more about Birch Bay Retirement Village

For more information or to arrange a tour, call 207-288-8014 or complete our contact form