Graduation Year


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Gina Tucker-Roghi OTD, OTR/L, BCG

Faculty Advisor

Gina Tucker-Roghi OTD, OTR/L, BCG


Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are primary caregivers to individuals with dementia (IwD) who reside in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). CNAs are also expected to know how to provide person-centered and occupation-based care while managing challenging behaviors of IwD without formal training which become sources of strain and stress for CNAs and often leads to feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy (Pelissier et al., 2015). Further research shows that specialized dementia care training programs are beneficial to CNAs in acquiring the knowledge and skills required to provide high quality dementia care and that CNAs prefer the use of a multimodal education program that incorporates role-playing and other interactive educational strategies (Pfeifer et al., 2018). The Abilities Care Experts (ACE™) curriculum provides OT practitioners with a framework to educate CNAs on strategies to facilitate the remaining abilities of residents with dementia and engage them in meaningful occupations. CNAs who complete the ACE™ program are prepared to implement occupation-based functional maintenance plans to support the active participation of residents in self-care, leisure and social occupations. The curriculum has now been revised to better align with existing evidence on the barriers CNAs experience when providing dementia care. Revisions were also made to the curricular design in order to integrate principles from adult learning theory while infusing an occupation-centered framework. The revised ACE™ program prepares CNAs to implement occupation-based and client-centered maintenance plans. The revised curriculum incorporates a flipped classroom model where CNAs complete a 15-minute online module with didactic instruction each week prior to entering the classroom. Sessions are conducted in a small group, allowing for in-person classes to focus on application based learning as they consider the challenges and opportunities of caring for specific residents with dementia in their facility. Application based learning allows for more interaction and collaboration between the OT and CNAs.

Available for download on Friday, December 01, 2023