Blog Post:

What is goal-directed behaviour?

Published on Thursday 4th of October 2012

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Goal-directed or goal-oriented behaviours in nursing homes refer to behaviours people diagnosed with dementia display at any given time.

The idea is that the behaviour is not random but in fact indicates the existence of a purpose or goal.

Here are some examples of goal-directed behaviours:

  • Wandering – They may have a destination in mind.
  • Exit-seeking - They feel they 'must' get home or to work.
  • Resisting Care – Often being aggressive or agitated during personal care due (amongst other things) to feeling that they are not in control or their privacy has been invaded.

It is thought that this kind of behaviour correlates with advanced stages of dementia and poor interpersonal relationships.
Considerable emphasis is now placed on the promotion of person-centred nursing care across the board in the aged care industry.

It requires that staff treat residents as individuals with respect and compassion and manage their care according to their needs.

People suffering from dementia have the right to:

  • Feel safe
  • Feel they are in control and perceive his/her life as dignified
  • Feel physically comfortable
  • Feel unstressed and have a sense of belonging
  • Feel pleasure and an awareness that 'they' matter.

To successfully manage the above goal-directed behaviours, staff will need to:

  • Involve residents in their care routines
  • Empathize with residents
  • Watch for triggers that cause the behavious so that you can avoid or minimise them
  • Reassure the resident that you are there to provide comfort and assistance
  • Acknowledge the residents feelings and employ diversionary strategies.

Good assessment to enable staff to identify a resident's individual needs and preferences is important.

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