Debbie Dyjak, RN, BSN, MS

Education Coordinator, Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility
Education Coordinator, Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility

Affiliate, Arizona Center on Aging
Aging and Cognition Scholar, Healthy Brain Research Network


Degrees and Institutions:  Undergraduate nursing degree from the University of Arizona. Graduate degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Wellness and Stress Management from the University of Arizona.
Hartford Affiliation:  Geriatric Nurse Leadership Academy – Fellow (2012-2013).
Change AGEnt Initiative participation: Hartford Change AGEnts Communication Institute participant July 2015, Hartford Change AGEnts Conference 2014.

Debbie Dyjak is the Education Coordinator at Archie Hendricks Sr. Skilled Nursing Facility, on the Tohono O’odham Nation, where she leads practice change initiatives such as BEST (Behavioral Expressions Team). She also serves as a Faculty and Advisory Board Member at the University of Arizona’s Geriatric Education Center, a HRSA funded grant initiative whose successful programs have benefited Arizona Elders. Ms. Dyjak is passionate about improving the quality of life for seniors on tribal land through geriatric education and training.

“As a full time educator located within a tribal nursing home and as a GEC faculty member, I am in a unique position to advocate for BEST practices based on documented evidence for our tribal Elders. Tribal nursing homes are positioned to collaborate together to ensure our Elders are given the very BEST, person centered, and proactive care possible which is in harmony with cultural values and customs.”

Ms. Dyjak is collaborating with Kay Branch M.A., Elder/Health Program Coordinator of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to develop a Tribal Nursing Home Educational Collaborative whose mission is to support Native Elders by:

• Honoring tribal customs, values, traditions and language
• Respecting individual autonomy through person centered care
• Including communities and family in the collaborative process

“The goals of this newly forming collaborative, supported by national LTC and tribal entities, and the University of Arizona Geriatric Education Center is to establish BEST practices among tribal nursing homes and their identified stakeholders nationwide utilizing evidence-based education, training, quality assurance interventions and linkages.”

Ms. Dyjak, her local team, and collaborators are working diligently to create a working collection of best practices and a network of Native Nation health professionals selected for their commitment to tribal nursing home change. They will uncover specific needs and obstacles via direct feedback and data provided from tribal nursing homes, implement the concluding change practices in partnership with GECs, and support tribal nursing homes throughout the change process.

“Throughout this change process I am dedicated to improving the care we provide to our tribal elders by creating and sustaining a pathway for communication, encouragement, and knowledge among tribal nursing homes and their partners across Indian lands.”