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Dementia Care Matters – special approach centres “Feelings Matter Most”

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The heart of care is all about emotional care. This requires a change in care services from simply providing task centred care. The shift from ‘doing’ it to accomplishing real emotional connection is at the heart of ‘being’ person centred. 

 

Dementia Care Matters has a “Feelings Matter Most” approach. Life is an emotional journey; we all want real human connection. This applies more so to people living with dementia. People learn to trust feelings and rely more on themselves as feeling beings rather than thinking beings. 

 

A Different View Point

This viewpoint comes from the understanding that people going through dementia live with a condition that affects their skills to process facts, logic and thinking.  However, feelings and a persons’ spirit stay.  With the lack of being able to rely on facts, logic and thinking along with this experience of dementia, feelings become more significant.  As dementia advances, the expression of feelings becomes more vital in how people living with dementia connect and understand the world surrounding them. 

 

From our understanding, care settings do not change and become ‘person centred’ as a outcome of just having training, principles and competencies. Care settings transform because the people leading it have confronted the reality of people with dementia living in aged care homes.  The truth is that many care settings are consumed with getting ‘tasks’ done whereas people with dementia sit bored and lonely in their rooms. 

 

Living Life vs Boredom

Dementia Care Matters has directed over 750 audits in aged care homes and we find that on average people living with dementia are not living but instead experiencing ‘neutral care’ (boredom, tasks being ‘done’ to them in silence, being asleep) for 70% of the time we audit.  

 

Therefore this model of care targets to test views and attitudes that underpin much of the current dementia care practices. It also aims to support, motivate and strengthen beliefs that many devoted staff already have about person centred dementia care. 

 

At Dementia Care Matters we meet managers, nurses and care staff assisting people living with dementia for whom the ‘Feelings Matter Most’ approach fits exactly with who they are why they come to work each day. We believe that person centred care starts with ourselves. How can people be expected to implement a person-centred approach if they as staff are not treated in a person-centred way at work or in their private lives? It’s about going back to fundamentals. 

 

Go inside a Butterfly Dementia Care Home in the UK, Australia & Canada where like a butterfly, the staff employed there are changing their family members’ lives with calm flitting, colour, movement, touch and stillness. 

 

It is time to remove the uniforms, drug trolleys, staff toilets, large dining rooms, and structures of an institution. Individuals are no longer seen as ‘ residents ‘ but as family – the old culture of ‘them and us ‘ taken away. Task orientation, standing around watching people eat, ‘doing to’ people and having staff notices ‘ put up ‘in peoples’ own home have no place in this model of care. Disconnected management styles and an over focus on processes fit into the malignant social psychology of history. 

 

Instead people living and working together come alive sharing their histories, eating, smiling, and supporting each other to reminiscence on who they were. Living in the moment is key – assisting people to be linked to whoever they now need to ‘ be ‘. 

 

The driving force behind this programme in dementia care – Dr David Sheard, Founder of Dementia Care Matters left his employment in 1995, after 15 years in the UK National Health Service, with the words “I won’t run factories in dementia care anymore. 

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