“The goal of person centred care is to move the person, even momentarily, from loss to fulfilment, loneliness to connectedness, sadness to cheerfulness, confusion to orientation, worry/anxiety to contentment, frustration to peacefulness, fear to security, paranoia to trust, anger to calm and embarrassment to confidence.”

People living with dementia deteriorate more rapidly in negative environments, often created as a direct result of our limited cognitive viewpoints.

Our stereotypical negative mindset can frequently be associated to, and pinpointed to the fact that we tend to focus only on the disease and not the person within.

We shun and ostracize people for having a condition they have not chosen to live with, and simply for being different.

We sentence them to a life of turmoil, social segregation, withdrawal, depression, and despair.

It seems quite appallingly arrogant and inhumane of us to treat people with dementia as if they are lesser beings because of a medical condition.

Social isolation, feelings of worthlessness and misery kill the will to live and that spark that keeps us alive.

We know this, yet we continue to disregard the integral rights of people living with dementia, due to lack of compassion and empathy, when they are the ones who need our understanding the most.

Instead I question why we would not instead, do everything we can to preserve the personhood of that person, maintaining and valuing the person within.

Show them that we care enough about who they are by treating them with love, care and kindness.

It could be suggested that by considering the specific and distinct preferences of a person living with dementia, caregivers could in fact provide a level of care that not only examines the personal choices of an individual, but also promotes an uplifting and joyous lifestyle that could more effectively provide a maximised quality of life.

By applying the person-centred care approach and understanding the person living with dementia, within the holistic framework of care, we may attempt to address the concerns plaguing the lives of people living with dementia, as well as those who care for them.

This attitude enables us to look deeper into ourselves and acknowledge that we do not have the right to thrust our own personal choices onto another, as this negates the importance and relevance of another person’s human rights, stripping them of their personhood and the place they hold within the world.

When this is consistently dishonoured, we are condoning the enduring suffering of another.

“It isn’t the condition that precipitates people living with dementia losing hold of their personhood.

It is our judgemental attitude towards people who differ to what our society believes a presentation of a person at a certain age should represent!

Be kind, and bring happiness to every moment of every day, and be the shining light that enhances a life and retains that sparkle, instead of overshadowing and dulling their light.

People living with dementia ARE important, they are worthy and they are unique.

Let us instead be their hope and their joy.

Suggested therefore is an indication for the need of a greater awareness towards routine and regular activity, allowing the people we care for to feel comfortable. This may ensure we empower another to have a sense of control over their own lives, as this is a basic human requirement.

In every action and situation there is an opportunity for the strengths of a person with dementia to be honoured and to experience value and self-worth.

Thus, as caregivers, we should attempt to examine every prospect that may avoid misery to those we care for.

This can then precipitate a more profound attention to the person living with dementia, their specific needs, and additionally empowers the person delivering the care.

Person centred care is therefore:

  • A model that focuses on the value of each individual, and involves respecting and honouring the uniqueness of each person and allowing him/her to be involved in decisions that have an impact on his/her life.
  • Provides problem solving strategies that greatly reduce the need for medication, help heal the past, and make whole the present by fostering interpersonal relationships
  • Draws on the strengths of the caregiver and the care receiver
  • Ensures the person needs are the highest priority, not only their physical needs, but all needs within the holistic framework of care. By providing the highest quality of care we must respect the resident’s wishes, and regard them as an autonomous individual whose values, choices and beliefs are to be honoured

Consequently, “Ageing Well” initiatives must consist of:

  • Strategies that extend and elevate provision of care
  • Reinforcement that ‘going without should not be an option’
  • Advocating and developing a supportive community
  • Challenging existing models and frameworks
  • Conversion of ill-being to well-being

“As caregivers, we are dared to enter the person’s reality, and are given the rare opportunity to see life through their eyes. With the use of compassion and empathy, understanding and creativity, we can effectively cross the threshold into an incredible journey with this person, providing them with companionship in a world where they would otherwise be alone”.

Personhood is therefore defined as: “The recognition of self, who we are, and the place we hold in the world around us”.

Personhood:

  • Places an emphasis on the positive effects of daily interaction with people
  • Cultivates the recognition of well-being as opposed to ill being
  • Ensures ageing, and mental or physical debility does not mean losing oneself or one’s humanity

Personhood assists in achieving and maintaining:

  • Peace with oneself/happiness
  • Retention of the meaning of life
  • Self-image and autonomy
  • Relationships with family and others
  • Interactions with community
  • Meaningful activity
  • Stimulation
  • Managing physical, mental, spiritual health – incorporating the holistic framework

*Please note this is PART 1 of the Person Centred Care Series by Leah Bisiani – more Parts come in the following weeks.

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