Piruz Huda is a research study consultant at the University of Washington (UW) School of Nursing. For the past year and a half Huda has been working on the STAR research study (Linda Teri, P.I.), which is a training program for staff at assisted living facilities. The program teaches nursing aides how to better manage problem behaviors of residents with dementia, such as anxiety and depression. He also works part time as a psychiatric mental health practitioner, providing psychiatric evaluations for older adults in the Seattle area.
Huda's role has been crucial in the development and implementation of the STAR training program. His main task has been to help develop the manual and videos used for the training program. He is also a program trainer, and goes to the facilities to provide training to the nursing aides. This involves role-playing, videos, worksheets and discussions with the staff. He also meets individually with the aides and management of the facility and through consulting and problem solving, helps them facilitate the implementation of the training.
Huda received his master's in nursing, with a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner focus, at the UW School of Nursing. He became interested in geriatric nursing after he completed his B.S. in nursing, when he worked as a psychiatric home health nurse. This involved going to individual's homes or assisted living facilities and working with families and staff, to help educate them about managing problems associated with dementia.
"Nursing is very involved in education, and I just thought it was great to try to get entire families together to learn about and better understand the illness," says Huda.
The aspect that Huda enjoys most about his job is when he can help a nurses aide or someone in the community better understand ways to make a person with dementia feel more comfortable. "When people describe to me what hasn't worked, I like to work with them to teach them some simple skills, and find a way that does work." He adds, "To see their appreciation, that they feel better working with the resident, and especially that the resident feels better, is very rewarding."
Huda encourages all family members working with people with dementia to become more assertive in asking for the right care. "The majority of families feel like they don't get enough information about Alzheimer's disease." Huda continues, "If you don't feel like you understand enough about the illness, or about the treatment you are receiving, ask questions. There are a lot of services and information available right now and it is continuing to get better; but you have be proactive in obtaining them."