Caregivers, Carers, Dementia

Person-centred dementia care - what is it?

30 May 2017

Meeting psychological needs (such as someone's sense of belonging and how they feel about themselves) is at the core of person-centred care, which is often viewed as the best practice for offering care and support to individuals living with dementia.

Person-centred dementia care seeks to enhance the well-being and empowerment of people living with dementia, regardless of their cognitive functioning. In adopting a person-centred approach to dementia care, it can lead to an enhanced quality of life and increased sense of well-being for both caregivers and individuals living with dementia.

What does it mean?

The practice of person-centred dementia care can be described as recognising, respecting and providing opportunities for an individual's self-expression. It has been recognised that this delivery of care can assist in reducing aggression and agitation often experienced by people with dementia. Some areas of person-centred support are detailed below.

Person-centred care home settings

Care homes settings specifically designed for individuals living with dementia have been said to increase the sense of positive well-being individual’s experience.

Higher quality of life is associated with an environment that is familiar and that provides opportunities for engagement with objects and activities, privacy and social contact along with the amenities and opportunities to take part in domestic activities.

Areas to create a dementia-friendly environment

  • Provide familiar environments using an individual’s own belongings and creating a décor that resembles what was existent at early adulthood.
  • Provide for individuals that tend to walk around frequently by creating a walking path to guide them to engage with other residents or staff in activities that may act as a distraction.
  • Maximise visual access by enabling individuals to see the entirety of their rooms, as well as other locations within the care home.
  • Avoid creating prominent safety measures as this leads to a reduction in anxiety and disturbed behaviours for individuals.
  • Avoid using curtains or carpets with patterns as these can appear particularly distorted to individuals with dementia and be quite frightening

Person-centred activity ideas

Activities can support person-centred dementia care, particularly ones that involve the use of reminiscence. They can be invaluable for helping others and the individual to see beyond the dementia.

Activities with others, even when people are not participating can provide individuals with a valued sense of inclusion.

Music and Dance - Therapeutic activities such as music and dance enables individuals to express emotions and feelings to one another. Music has also been seen to enhance communication and interaction, even in the advanced stages of dementia.

Enhance 'meaningful contribution' - Enabling individuals to make a meaningful contribution in some way can be strongly beneficial to their sense of self. Individuals express a sense of pride when encouraged to pass on and share values and experiences from their lives, often through the use of reminiscence, such as looking through photographs.

Animal or doll therapy - Enabling individuals to feel a sense of purpose is developed through attaining a responsibility for someone or something. Therefore, encouraging individuals to have the responsibility of a doll or animal could well have the ability to enhance individuals’ lives. Services such as Pet Pals and Animal Therapy can assist in this by bringing animals into the care home so individuals can take part in their care.

Create a Memory Box or Life Story Book - Creating a dementia memory box or life story book is a simple activity where you can use reminiscence therapy with the individual. By sitting down together and exploring a collection of items or images from the individual's past can help encourage short-term memories by stimulating long-term ones.

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