The importance of carers knowing likes and dislikes: Person-centred dementia care.

Featured article - 17 August 2016
By Pamela Holmes, SCIE practice development manager

Head-shot of the author, Pamela Holmes, SCIE practice development manager

It’s easy to say but very hard to do; to take a person-centred approach to caring for someone living with dementia. The new Health Education England film, Finding Patience – The Later Years, is a powerful examination of the benefits. But there’s an additional dimension considered: the film emphasises not only how hard it is for carers to see beyond the label ‘dementia’ but as importantly it argues that this approach demonstrates benefits for the carer themselves.

A carer who knows about the person they’re looking after - what their likes and dislikes are, what music calms them down, what activity they enjoy, the name of their loved one and so – can bring that information into the conversation, point to a photograph of a loved one, perhaps, or tell a tale that makes them laugh. This helps the person with dementia to link with their past and with themselves. Witnessing that connection is a validation of the power of the ‘person-centred care’.

A care worker sees and knows that the focus has been successful. Giving person-centred care is antidote to anxiety and provides a pathway to peace. Caring for someone who is more calm and content is beneficial for staff, too; as the film reveals, it is an inherently satisfying activity. For many staff, it’s why they decided to become a carer; because they wanted to care.

The importance of the person-centred approach is a theme that runs through all SCIE resources on dementia, from web content and Social Care TV films to the e-learning course. It’s also the message of our training work. For example, in October, we’re running an Open course on the importance of the person-centred approach in a dementia care for staff based in the community. It’s an aspiration which all services should drive towards. It’s a message that needs constant refreshment so that words become a reality for those we care for who live with dementia.

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