Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nursing Home Culture Change: Residents with Dementia (Video 4:06 mins.)

With all my experience as a hospice volunteer in nursing homes, I still have to be consciously aware of how I respond to patients living with dementia. Today I saw an approaching friend pushing her husband in a wheelchair. I immediately called out to her with a greeting. Within three seconds, I realized that I had only greeted her and had not said her husband’s name. I then called out to him.

My friend’s husband has dementia, which refers to a group of conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and lead to mental decline. I’m pretty sure that I would not have forgotten to say his name if he did not have dementia. I would have greeted them together. This is an example of the kind of conscious paradigm shift many of us must make in our thinking if we are serious about improving our interactions with people who have dementia. Culture change in nursing homes must include their unique needs. It is so easy to forget that they are adults with mental challenges.

No one wants to feel ignored, and residents with dementia are often very sensitive. They need to be recognized as contributors to conversations and honored as decision makers. Activities should be available for them to practice organization and communication skills that help them feel more like the adults they are. Time must be taken to investigate and implement activities that will help them experience life as adults with limited abilities.

Culture change in a person-directed environment includes meeting everyone’s needs. In this video, Megan Hannan explains the person-directed needs of residents with dementia.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment