Care Professional Dementia Support

There is no silver bullet for dementia and we have supported many clients with a dementia diagnosis over the years, and each person’s experience is different

Changed behaviours.

Dementia can have a huge effect on the life of the person living with the condition and their family (see this link for more detail). In particular, changed behaviours can be a challenge, particularly for families, who don’t recognise these ‘new’ behaviours in their loved one. A relative for example who was always gregarious in nature but now doesn’t want to be with people; someone who loved their food but now who doesn’t want to eat or a parent who used to take such pride in their appearance but now refuses to shower or dress appropriately.

The opportunity a Care Professional has to support a client in these circumstances are profound and complex. It’s hard to imagine how someone living with a dementia feels; perhaps they know they are struggling to cope and yet their ability cope is intimately tied to their dignity and self-respect and so they want to cope, be seen to be doing that and resist support as a consequence. This can be particularly acute for some people in the area of personal care which, by its nature, is intimate and something that a client has managed by themselves for perhaps 85 years. Clients may also be anxious about failing and looking foolish in a social interaction and so may be reluctant to engage with people.

All of this can mean that a client can resist support. For an organisation like us delivering care and support at home, it can feel like a lesson in patience, relationship building and trust. There are skills though that we try to bring to our staff so we can provide a level of support we can be proud of.

Dementia training at Home Instead.

We provide a raft of training and support so our staff to have the right mix of skills and attributes to deliver care and enable clients to have the best life they can in Banbury, Bicester Brackley and all the villages across North Oxfordshire and South-West Northamptonshire.

Our dementia training includes a range of different approaches. Some of this is very client specific and delivered in a client’s home but others are more dedicated classroom training sessions. Our City and Guilds accredited course, revised with advice the University of Bradford Centre for Applied Dementia Studies, for example is a two-day course which covers a variety of different modules including:

  • An introduction to dementia and its history. The different types of dementia are also covered as are diagnoses and treatments.
  • Understanding behavioural expression and unmet needs which deals with trying to understand how we can offer choice, acknowledge a client’s feelings, minimise the risk of physical and psychological harm as well improving quality of life in circumstances where a clients ability to communicate is limited.
  • To us its personal which discusses the loss of abilities and connections that a client can experience and the impact this can have on clients and their families. The module also covers the maintenance of dignity and respect against the backdrop of this loss.
  • Capturing life’s journey which emphasises the importance of engaging with the client particularly in the area of their past life. Clients may remember their distant past despite poor short-term memory. Reflecting on their history may provide security and help a Care Professional better understand the context of a client’s current behaviour.
  • Encouraging client engagement which stresses, and provides tactics to help with, a client stay engaged with life. Physical, intellectual and social engagement can provide opportunities for the client to feel more positive and build a sense of self-esteem and resiliency.
  • Nutrition, unmet needs and client safety which details the importance of maintaining daily routines including a healthy diet and fluid intake as well as issues around personal care (dressing, hygiene routines etc.). These topics along with tactics to encourage are a focus as well as the necessity of respecting the clients right to live their life as they want to.
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Who does the training?

Training provided to our staff reflects statutory requirements and also their real-life experience with clients. The City and Guilds course above is provided for staff who are already providing support to clients living with dementia so that discussions in the class are based on real experiences and there is an opportunity to put things into practise. Recent Care Professionals who have attended this course recently have told us

I found this very beneficial…. I now understand more about what our clients are going through, why they do the things they do and why and how we can help them more to feel reassured. A brilliant course to take…well worth going the extra mile.’

‘Got a lot of awareness and benefit around recognising unmet needs which has made quite a difference for my relationships with clients. I also felt it beneficial to have the space to discuss situations and scenarios that develop. A very good course’

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Dementia training. The knowledge I have gained has helped me to understand so much more about the different types of Dementia. It has also made a difference when i support my clients, by understanding their day-to-day life and how we overcome certain situations together. This has been a huge benefit for both my clients and me as a caregiver.’

I think the course was really beneficial in so many ways especially as we learnt about all the different types of dementia and behaviour differences, I found I could relate these to my clients and it helped me knowing how I could deal with different situations and other approaches. It was really helpful to discuss everything together and the real life stories on the video’s were especially helpful

Final thoughts

When I walk around

When I walk around, don’t tell me to come and sit down.

Walk around with me. It may be because I am hungry, thirsty, need the toilet. Or maybe I just need to stretch my legs.

When I call for my mother (even though I’m ninety!) don’t tell me she has died. Reassure me, cuddle me, ask me about her. It may be that I am looking for the security that my mother once gave me.

When I shout out please don’t ask me to be quiet…… or walk by. I am trying to tell you something, but have difficulty in telling you what. Be patient. Try to find out. I may be in pain.

When I become agitated or appear angry, please don’t reach for the drugs first. I am trying to tell you something. It may be too hot, too bright, too noisy. Or maybe it’s because I miss my loved ones. Try to find out first.

When I don’t eat my dinner or drink my tea, it may be because I have forgotten how to. Show me what to do, remind me. It may be that I just need to hold my knife and fork, I may know what to do then.

When I push you away while you’re trying to help me wash or get dressed, maybe it’s because I have forgotten what you have said. Keep telling me what you are doing over and over. Maybe others will think you’re the one that needs the help!

With all my thoughts and maybes, perhaps it will be you who reaches my thoughts, understands my fears, and will make me feel safe. Maybe it will be you who I need to thank.

If only I knew how.

(author unknown)

This poem really reiterates the essence of understanding behavioural expression, identifying the unmet needs and endeavouring to try and meet the unmet need in some way.