Once you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a form of dementia, you may become bombarded with terms and expressions that you are unfamiliar with. One of them will be person-centered dementia care. The information in this post provides the basics on person-centered dementia care.

What is person-centered dementia care?

Person-centered care is an approach to caring for people with dementia that puts their individual interests, background and needs first. It ensures that their care is designed around them, not the carer or the facility that they may reside in.

Their hobbies, abilities, history and personality are considered first and foremost. It is not a one-method fits all patients model of care. Most importantly, it treats people with dementia with respect and dignity. It is also effective in preventing and managing psychological and behavioural symptoms of dementia.

The idea and framework of person-centered dementia care came from a British psychologist, Tom KItwood (1937-1998), whose work on dementia care in Bradford, UK, led him to develop this model. One of the features of his training was to ensure that practitioners and other carers experience the physical, psychological and emotional challenges facing people with dementia. Over the years. Kitwood’s ideas have been further developed by other practitioners.

Person-centred care:

  • starts with conversations with the person with dementia, their family and other loved one, to fully understand their needs
  • treats the person with dementia as an equal partner in developing the care that best suits their needs
  • provides people with choices about the types of services they receive and how they are delivered
  • recognises the backgrounds and choices of individuals, including culture, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, and beliefs
  • recognises that the need to know the person and understand their experiences requires ongoing listening, learning and action
  • allows the person with dementia to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible.

VIPS

One of the key tenets to person-centred care is that of VIPS, developed by Dawn Brooker. It uses the acronym VIPS to stress how important each individual is.

V = Values people. Both those with dementia and their carers need to be valued and their rights respected and promoted. Carers need to consider, ‘Do my actions value and honour people living with dementia?’

I = Individual’s needs. People with dementia need to be treated as individuals, with their background, personality, physical and mental health needs, socially connections, and financial conditions all taken into account. The care being provided needs to be adapted accordingly. Carers need to consider, ‘Do I recognise the individual uniqueness of the people I work with?’

P = Perspective of service user. The carer needs to look at the world from the perspective of the person with dementia, considering all the individual aspects identified under ‘Individual’s Needs’. Carers need to consider, ‘Do I make a serious attempt to see my actions from their perspective or stand point?’

S = Supportive social psychology. This requires a recognition that humans are social creatures and that maintaining social and personal relationships and interaction are essential to the wellbeing of people with dementia. Carers need to consider, ‘Do my actions provide the support for people with dementia to feel socially confident and that they are not alone?’

Person-centred care in practice

There are numerous practices around person-centred care. They vary from place to place and practitioner to practitioner. When discussing care, whether Home Care or aged home care, ask for specific examples of how they practice person-centred care. Some examples of practices are:

  • Providing choices at mealtime
  • Providing a range of psychological interventions, such as aromatherapy, exercise therapy, music therapy, dance activities, art activities
  • Providing individualised care considering personal financial situation, including researching options for low-cost or free activities within the community
  • Respecting, encouraging and facilitating individual spiritual beliefs and needs
  • Allowing environment of the person with dementia to reflect their personal aesthetic tastes and preferences.

Benefits of person-centred care

Quite clearly, person-centred care maintains the dignity of people with dementia, provides them with respect and allows them to maintain the values they have lived by throughout their lives. In addition, it has been shown to have practical benefits, including:

  • reducing agitation and aggression
  • reducing the need for particular medications
  • reducing depression.

Support and care

If you’re looking for care and support for your loved one, it’s important that you take time to consider all options. Home Care is one of those options. For many people with dementia, continuing to live in their own, familiar environment will be the best tonic for them. CareAbout can match you with a Home Care provider that specialises in dementia-care trained staff and meets your individual needs.

If you’re considering an Aged Care Home, make sure you compare homes who provide specialist dementia care. CareAbout has a Aged Care home database to compare the specialities of different Aged Care Homes and their fees and charges. Or speak to an CareAbout expert on 1300 721 855.