By Daz Smith
When I started as an aged care worker 30 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.
Showering, dressing, toileting and feeding were all part of a task orientated day for the people I cared for in an aged care facility.
At the time, I thought that this is what I had been trained to do.
Over time I realised that our industry was more in line with a care equalling control model. In other words, by saying we are here to care for you, we are actually practising I control you.
Think about it.....
The aged care sector in many cases, still practises a medical model; a task orientated model if you like.
We tell people:
We concentrate on the diagnosis and tasks we have to do and not on the person or their abilities.
It is not our fault, this is just how it has been for many years, we have been taught this way.
Our industry now requires a culture change, a relearning of what has become the norm. There is no quick solution; it is like turning a large ship around with a stick.
It will take perseverance, patience and participation from everyone involved, not just a few. When I say everyone, I refer to anyone who has a role that supports a person living in care so they can continue to live their life to the best of their ability.
This is whether the support comes from family, friends, staff or volunteers, we all have a contributing role to ensure the person is given choice, enablement & continued involvement in life, regardless of their diagnosis.
Moving from a medical model to a person-centred model is not about being handed a pamphlet or just being told to do it by an organisation or management.
Most staff in the aged care sector really do not fully understand what person centred care is or truly stands for. If they did, they may have been ridiculed by others for not abiding by the ways of the medical model currently in place.
It is not anyone’s fault; this has just been viewed as the most efficient way to get the job done.
Every good idea requires a starting point. We need to first stop, take a step back and bring everyone together so that we can walk together in the same direction that best supports and enables the person residing in care.
We need to bring it back to basics and relearn a way that we in our industry can reconnect & start to appreciate what reality is for our residents. We need to see past their disabilities and find their strengths, and abilities.
We can do this by ensuring their basic human needs of attachment, comfort, identity, occupation, inclusion and love, are met. Focus on the uniqueness of each person and ensure they are respected, valued and heard.
Being a detective and finding out as much as possible about a person’s life history (gathered from the resident or their family) is another great starting point for re-connection.
The exchange of information regarding past lifestyle choices or history between staff members can be invaluable. It allows a more positive interaction between people and helps reduce unmet needs.
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be approximately 1,000,000 people living with dementia in Australia.
People who live with Dementia can feel a heightened level of emotions and will often remember how you have made them feel rather than what you have said to them.
They may feel anxious or frightened at times, have trouble recognising people, exhibit awkwardness and not fully understanding what is being said to them.
Feelings however will always remain. We can help stimulate emotions, bring comfort and reaffirm spiritual truths. Our body language can be our best asset. Regardless of diagnosis, we all benefit from positive interactions that give us pleasure & purpose.
Culture change comes from starting a conversation amongst your work colleges, residents & families.
Why do we do it this way?
How does this affect the resident’s wellbeing?And be the change you want to see.
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