Cognitive and Mental Health Challenges

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HCSW 1107
Cognitive and Mental Health Challenges
Health Care Support Work
Health Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
60 hrs per semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities


Group discussion/group activities

Audio-visual materials

Case studies

May include other methods (e.g. guest speakers, role play, etc.)

Course Description
This course builds on content from other courses to assist students to explore concepts and care-giving approaches that will allow them to work effectively with individuals experiencing cognitive or mental challenges. Emphasis is on recognizing behaviours and identifying person-centred intervention strategies.
Course Content

Cognitive Challenges in Older Adulthood

  • Confusion and dementia.
  • Common causes of reversible changes in mental functioning.
  • Primary forms of irreversible dementia:
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Other dementias
  • Forms and causes of various dementias – pathology, processes and characteristics.
  • Philosophies and models of care.
  • Importance of life review in care of individuals with dementia.
  • Stages of dementia and common behavioural manifestations and unique responses.
  • Responsive behaviours – factors influencing behaviours (e.g. “triggers”).
  • Importance of environment in relation to behaviours.
  • Strategies for working with individuals exhibiting responsive behaviours.
  • Appropriate activities for individuals experiencing differing levels of dementia.
  • Working effectively with individuals experiencing early, moderate or severe dementia.
  • Supporting family members
  • Caregiver needs and support.


  • Types of abuse/abusive relationships.
  • Cycle of abuse.
  • Recognizing signs of abuse.
  • Assessing situations and individuals.
  • Responding to or preventing abuse, disruptive or out-of-control behaviour.
  • Knowing when to exit a potentially unsafe situation.

Mental Health Challenges

  • Causes and common treatment of mental health challenges
  • Common mental health disorders:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Affective or mood disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Dual or multi-diagnoses
  • Principles and approaches used to plan and implement effective care
  • Person-centred care
  • When and what to report
  • Stigma associated with mental health challenges
  • Cultural differences in perceptions of mental health challenges
  • Caring for the person and family
  • Suicide risks and prevention
Learning Outcomes
  1. Describe ways to organize, administer and evaluate person-centered care and assistance for clients/residents experiencing cognitive health challenges.
  2. Describe ways to organize, administer and evaluate person-centered care and assistance for clients/residents experiencing mental health challenges.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of effective approaches to disruptive or abusive behaviours.
Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is consistent with Douglas College course evaluation policy.  An evaluation schedule is presented at the beginning of the course.

This is a graded course.  A minimum mark of 65% is necessary to be successful in the course.

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


 A list of recommended textbooks and materials is provided to students at the beginning of the semester.