“My goal is to create environments where everyone can flourish.”
Jennifer Brush is redesigning dementia care with her “From Can’t to Can Do” philosophy.
I’m Jennifer Brush, and I’m on a mission to redesign dementia care. Whether I’m assisting a family in-home as they transition through a new diagnosis or leading a live training for a long-term care community, my work centers on one thing and one thing only—focusing on what individuals with dementia CAN do.
Passion for the person
As dementia care providers, we need to remember that older adults still want to be heard, just as we do. I focus on bringing back our attention to the people we’re serving and enriching their lives with the care we provide.
Innovative environmental design
Did you know there are easy to implement changes that any care partner can make to the environment to enrich the lives of individuals with dementia? Simple changes like adding contrast, colors and textures can make a world of difference in the way someone functions.
I have served as the Principal Investigator or Project Manager on MANY research grants. My work is informed and influenced by advanced research in the area of cognition and the physical environment. Each and every strategy and solution I teach is hand selected because it represents proven practices that afford the best transformation possible.
Staying focused on the solutions
My clients agree that I am full of ideas that make things better, both for staff and elders alike. I am best known for creatively taking problems and finding solutions that allow people to look at dementia differently.
Meet Jennifer Brush, M.A., CCC/SLP
I have been very fortunate that my work with dementia has taken me around the globe, in front of audiences in South America, Australia, Israel, Singapore, throughout Europe, to Washington, DC to advise about healthcare policy, into the board rooms of organizations who want to improve their dementia care, and into the living rooms of countless families with their own stories to share.
Long before I made redesigning dementia care my career, I was a speech language pathologist who saw the need and opportunity to make big changes in the way our elders were treated. I was appalled by what I saw in the nursing homes where I worked: people who could be my grandmother or my grandfather sitting in wheelchairs, doing nothing all day, being trapped in wet diapers, calling out and being ignored. Where others saw problems to disregard, I saw people who deserved better.
I started to learn everything I could about dementia, spending numerous hours reading and studying with experts. My first research and publications were in the area of Spaced Retrieval, a memory invention that helps people with cognitive impairment to learn and retain information over long period of time. I co-authored a book on the subject, taught rehabilitation therapists throughout the country how to implement it, and soon the technique was being use in care communities across the nation. In the past 20 years, a large body of research has been completed on this intervention, and now I have co-authored a second book about this evidence-based memory strategy.
I knew I had the ability to improve long-term care industry wide and on a global scale and wanted to work in an environment where I could be truly innovative.
I had the pleasure of working at IDEAS Institute for many years and eventually served as Executive Director at this research and consulting organization. I co-authored the Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit for Dementia Care and approximately 25 different peer-reviewed research articles, becoming known as an expert in environmental interventions to improve communication and eating/swallowing for people living with dementia.
In my nearly 30 year career redesigning dementia care, I have written several books, won awards, been invited to speak at national and international conferences, managed many research grants, and served as a co-chair on a national person-centered care task force. In 2014, I became an inaugural member of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Advisory Board for Montessori for Dementia and Aging, and I am the only AMI Certified Educator for Montessori for Dementia and Aging in the US, and one of two Trainer of Trainers in the world.
In 2019, I began my role as Co-Investigator for a $2.2 million NIH funded grant that seeks to improve wayfinding in long term care communities. The Principal Investigator on the grant is Dr. Rebecca Davis at Grand Valley State University. I’ll be managing the test sites in Cleveland and designing new wayfinding signage for all of the test sites in the research project.
In 2020, I begin an exciting new endeavor, as Program Director, Montessori Education for Dementia, St. Nicholas Montessori College, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Most recently, I received Fulbright Specialist designation by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning.
Jennifer Brush’s Professional Biography
Jennifer Brush, MA, CCC/SLP is a Fulbright Specialist, and an award-winning dementia care author and consultant. Passionate about enriching the lives of people with dementia, Jennifer is on a mission to put the focus of care on the person’s preferences, interests and abilities.
With her nearly three decades of industry experience, including leading countless live national and international trainings, facilitating ground-breaking research, and managing innovative person-centered projects for the Ohio Council for Cognitive Health, Jennifer flawlessly bridges the gap between care communities and the individuals they serve. Jennifer serves on the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Advisory Board for Montessori for Aging and Dementia and she is the only AMI Certified Trainer of Trainers for Montessori for Aging and Dementia in the US. Jennifer also serves as Program Director, Montessori Education for Dementia St. Nicholas Montessori College in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
Jennifer is the author of several nationally recognized books on dementia including the silver-medal winning Creative Connections in Dementia Care and I Care, the gold-medal winning work that also received a 5-star rating as a Reader Favorite. Jennifer is widely known for her innovative work in the Spaced Retrieval memory intervention, pioneering this area of study in speech-language pathology and publishing 2 books on the subject. Look for Jennifer’s book, Montessori for Elder and Dementia Care, to be for sale by Health Professions Press Wiley in August, 2020.
Jennifer’s Co-Authored Books
- Montessori for Elder and Dementia Care (Coming 2020)
- Getting Started with Montessori: Volumes 1 & 2
- Spaced Retrieval Step by Step
- Creative Connections in Dementia Care™ (Silver Medal Winner in the 2016 National Health Information Awards)
- I Care (Gold Medal Winner in National Mature Media Awards, Award Finalist in USA Best Book Awards, 5-Star Rating in Readers Favorite Awards)
- Environment and Communication Assessment Toolkit™ (ECAT)
- A Therapy Technique for Improving Memory: Spaced Retrieval
- Methods of Intervention for Improving Functioning in Demented Persons: Montessori Based Activities and Spaced Retrieval. Japan: Miwa Shoten.
Partial List of Jennifer’s Past Speaking Engagements:
- Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, Paris & Chicago
- American Society on Aging
- Montessori Europe, Dublin
- St. Nicholas Montessori College, Dublin
- Fundación Maria Montessori, Buenos Aires
- Montessori Institute of North Texas
- Gerontological Society of America
- Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- American Speech-Language Hearing Association
- Northern Speech Services
- Association Montessori Internationale, Amsterdam
- International Conference on Montessori Environment, Sydney
- Montessori World Congress, Prague
- Texas Speech and Hearing Association
- Kendal Corporation
- Alabama Speech and Hearing Association
- Montessori Training Center of Minnesota
- Pioneer Network
- Maine Healthcare Association
- Ohio Healthcare Association
- Erickson Memory Summit
- Ohio Assisted Living Association
- Baycrest Hospital, Toronto
- Cuyahoga Community College
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cleveland State University
- National Council on Aging
- Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
- Clarion University