Be The Change You Want To See

Be The Change You Want To See

User Profile By Daz Smith   Australia

Found In: Activities Articles

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.
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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.

  • There was a feeling of us and them.
  • Certain staff would only do certain tasks
  • The language we used was negative and clinical
  • People were treated like objects
  • Families were often looked upon as hindrances

At the time, I thought that this is what I had been trained to do.

An Outdated Model of Care

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:

  • when to get up or go to bed
  • what to eat
  • when to shower via a shower list
  • when to go to the toilet

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.

Culture Change is Necessary

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.

A Shift Towards Person Centred Care

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.

Uncover Past Lifestyle Choices and History

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.

People remember how you made them Feel

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.

Be the Change you want to See

Culture change comes from starting a conversation amongst your work colleges, residents & families.

Ask yourself:

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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Comments   Post a Comment

Lalaine 6th Nov 2017 Life Style Officer
what I observed in our workplace, the staff are lack of education, knowledge, and information what is the real meaning of
person-centered. all that they know is they need to finish the task like showering, changing pads, and feeding. The connection between the resident and the staff were disconnected.
Solange 13th Nov 2017 Diversional Therapist
Hi Lalaine, it is very disturbing that some facilities continue to employ staff without a minimum of training and qualifications. It is such a lack of respect for our elders. It amazes me that these care facilities keep on passing audits inspections. Sure the accreditation process is not picking up the issues as it should.
Having said that, I must say there are many good care facilities out there amid the bad ones.
Stephanie 14th Sep 2017
Awesome and timely article. Just today I was visiting an elderly friend of mine who has dementia. He told me that he had to poop and when I told the caregivers that he needed help using the bathroom, they told me that he isn't allowed to use the toilet. I told him that it was ok for him to poop in his pants (diaper) but he still has enough pride and awareness that he didn't want to do that. Is it a basic right for a resident of a memory care facility to be able to use a toilet?
Jacqui 1st Apr 2017 Diversional Therapist
Great article seeing all people in our care as people first and not the person with dementia or special needs etc is a good place to start I believe.
Kim 28th Mar 2017 Registered Nurse
What a wonderful article. Last night I watched a program on the ABC relating to the mistreatment of special needs clients in a "care facility'. it made me sick, it made me cry and it made me angry. Most importantly it made me think about how I relate to the Residents in my care. I work in age care. Everyone of my residents are different to the next and should be treated as such, with dignity, respect and what used to be called common decency. I fear that person centred care will not become a reality whilst the Dollar rules the bottom line. We that work in this industry have to make it happen regardless and do the very best we can to provide a safe and fulfilling life for those in our care. Stand strong and be proud to support those in need.
Daz 28th Mar 2017 Lifestyle Consultant
Person centred care is about building relationships.

Its about making the lived experience enjoyable for all involved.

Sheri 22nd Mar 2017 PCAP/OTA
I feel like crying.. I am of the 'new generation' of carers who want to see person centered care put into practise in all residential facilities. I struggle with this daily. I am told I am slow, I don't understand time management, they have a menu to go by. etc etc. These same people say when they end up in care they want this they want that.. when I explain that's what I try to do for our residents now I am ridiculed... (I won't give up trying). It's a hard slog but I know eventually it will change, but dealing with old carers who think they know better and time time time is all they care about peeves me. I treat our residents like they are my grandma or great grandma (both of who I have cared for at different times). One day Daz we WILL see the change
Daz 22nd Mar 2017 Lifestyle Consultant
Hi Sheri,
This one is for you and all the other people who want to see change.
Find like minded people in you workplace and come together to discuss how to change the small things.
The best way is to lead by example and after a while others will get on board.
Please see this video called the LONE NUT, it always inspires me.

Linda 3rd Apr 2017 Housekeeper/cook
Hello Sheri and Daz.....heartwarming to read your struggles. There is nothing worse than the brigade that tell us we are slow, because we care, give that bit extra time, listen, assist and laugh. We all know we have to conform to certain times e.g. Lunch is the most common, but apart from that, we cannot be regimented and I admire your commitments. I have likeminded friends in the caring world and can only say onwards and upwards. When in doubt I use the bench mark of "if this was my loved one, what would I want for them" it usually puts my mind at peace as to the right or wrongs in a situation. Bestests to all carers.
Romary 21st Mar 2017 Pensionar/Voluntary Worker
This is an excellent article. I believe it happens more in places where the dementia clients are amongst the elderly folk who do not suffer from this disease. Caring for dementia clients is a completely different way of helping someone, and the needs of the carer to know this, require specific training, love of their work, a huge supply of patience and dedication. We are all different and this is more so with those suffering from any form of dementia and particularly Alzheimer disease.
Lisa 21st Mar 2017 Life Style Co-ordinator
I love the way that you think Daz!
Darla 21st Mar 2017 Recreation and Rehab Manager
Thank you for this article. It came at the right time.
Daz Smith 21st Mar 2017 Lifestyle Consultant
Daz has submitted an article: Be the change you want to see
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