Grant Funded Programs

Strategies for Communicating with the Mentally Impaired Elderly

Funded by
The Grotta Fund for Senior Care

ACAP is offering communication and skills training to workers who serve vulnerable elderly with challenging behaviors. Non-profit organizations and individuals are eligible to participate. In 2010 more than 200 caregivers from 40 agencies have benefited from this program.

This five-session interactive curriculum offers real life scenarios, innovative methods, and issue specific skills to improve communication with the vulnerable and challenging elderly. It helps participants develop strategies to better communicate with the mentally impaired elderly, and seeks to improve in-home care of mentally impaired elderly by training family and professional caregivers of all categories including: family members, administrators, social workers, rehabilitation staff nurses and nurse aides.

The program goals are to improve medical treatment compliance and quality of life within senior care facilities and better transition discharged patients to independent living.

A track is opening specific to nurses with provision of continuing education credits.  The series is made up of five, two-hour sessions in small groups.

Topics may include:  

  • Good Aging, Changes in the Aging Body and Mind
  • Assessment of the Cognitively Impaired elderly
  • Interventions with the Hostile, Aggressive or Agitated Elderly
  • Strategies for the Withdrawn and Non-responsive Elderly
  • Approaches to the Mentally Ill Elderly
  • Working with Family Members of the Elderly
  • How to care for Substance Abusing Elderly
  • Managing the Needy or Manipulative Elderly Person
  • Communication through the Body-Illness to Somatization
  • New Approaches to communicating with the Elderly about Loss
  • The Language of Non-Verbal Communication in the Elderly

Contact Annette Vaccaro, Program Coordinator for information about participation: 
973-629-7808 or

This pilot program is currently free-of-charge to participants through the generosity of the Grotta Fund for Senior Care and will be available for a fee following the piloting period. Selection and availability are limited to organizations who meet the grant criteria.

Here’s what people had to say:
-“The training has allowed our upper management and front line staff to work together cooperatively. ”

“the series was not only informative in communicating with the mentally impaired elderly but as a professional helped me to cope with the stress of this work, allowing me to perform my job better

“My instructor was excellent at providing a balance of theory and self-awareness.  Although unexpected, I found the course personally stimulating and rewarding as well directly applicable to my work”

“The training was both an education and support”

An administrator: “We often think that it’s all about problem solving.  This has shown me that there is more going on…There are a lot of real problems that people face, but what may look like a problem, may be a problem with communicating what the resident wants us to know about him.”

Strategies for Communicating with the Mentally Impaired Elderly: A Training Program for  Caregivers and Health Professionals

Project Objectives:

-train 100-200 participants in a five session series
-hold two conferences for networking and dissemination of information
-develop general and issue specific curriculums
-complete qualitative and quantitative studies to understand the impact of our trainings

Study Outcomes
Our measures, as of September 2010, included:  a survey  for instructors, qualitative interviews, quantitative scales, logs, and monthly curriculum meetings.

An independent research consultant concluded that this training:

  1. Assisted caregivers in becoming more comfortable listeners when interacting with the elderly
  2. Specifically helping caregivers to become interested in the personal stories of those in their care.

Program Summary
This Spring ACAP’s program, Training Caregivers of the Elderly Mentally Impaired, has trained 96 participants in five sessions about how to improve communication skills and to sensitize caregivers to the unique needs of the mentally impaired elderly.  In addition, a half day conference, Strategies for Communicating with the Mentally Impaired Elderly, was held for 74 participants.  The program assists professional and family caregivers in managing difficult behaviors and situations so that in-home care improves and may become possible.  The curriculum assists caregivers in developing intervention strategies that can increase cooperative behavior during activities of daily living and healthcare provision, allowing for independence and a consultive relationship to develop. 

June 11, 2010 Conference Participants:  Lester House, JCHC Towers, Saint Barnabas Hospital, Park Manor, New Vista, Private Care Nursing, Community Care Nurses, National Council of Jewish Women, Caregiving Volunteer, Family Caregivers, B’nai Birth House, Jewish Family Services, Family Support Organization of Essex County, Fellowship Village, SAGE Eldercare, Freedom Eldercare, Passaic community Mental Health Center, Newark Beth Israel, Arts Unbound, ARC of Essex County, Daughters of Israel.

Fall 2010, sixteen groups of between 8-15 participants have been arranged and underway.  A conference for networking, dissemination of information and review of the curriculum is scheduled for December 10, 2010

Joining Forces

Funded Programs Joining Forces is a program developed by The Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis (ACAP), to provide administrators, mental health center workers and teachers with assistance in serving their most challenging situations, clients, supervisees and students. Joining Forces was originally funded by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey and is currently funded by the Robert and Joan Dirks Foundation.

By joining together to explore intervention strategies that can be effective with our most difficult daily experiences, we can enhance our skills in working with people in many different settings.

Joining Forces has allowed people from varied settings such as:

  • juvenile justice,
  • human resources,
  • schools,
  • DYFS and
  • therapy offices

to participate in training that enhances their understanding of human motivation and has been shown to decrease stress levels. This is what one agency’s supervisor said about ACAP training:

“Modern Psychoanalytic supervision and training allows me to step back and study more. Then I understand the client and intervene in a way that meets them where they are in their current situation. I’m more patient with myself and my workers and more effective overall.”

Joining Forces Training

Joining Forces was made possible by a generous pilot program grant funded by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey

Joining Forces is a Training Program developed through a partnership between The Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis And the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. Joining Forces provides training to Mental Health Workers and Teachers Who Serve Multi-Challenged Families Experiencing Problems with Mental Health and Substance Abuse (The Healthcare Foundation was founded by the Jewish Community)


* In Year I, Joining Forces provided training for 25 workers from 7 agencies

* In Year I, Joining Forces provided outreach to 9 locations. 350 contacts were made to inform and introduce workers to modern psychoanalytic methods

* By training workers who have established relationships with people in their own communities and settings, Joining Forces has not only had an impact on 25 workers but potentially impacted the 5,583 children they serve.

* In year II, by assisting workers in the proposed train the trainer program to work with others at their sites, we can multiply this effect in potentially reaching the 14,466 children served at each agency or school.

* Joining Forces is a proven model to help in the reduction of stress of healthcare workers. It has impacted the disparity of stress on the job in workers in the Greater Newark Area. This model can be applied to a variety of settings and populations.