16 November 2018

Dementia Care Matters unique approach centres around idea that “Feelings Matter Most”

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Dementia Care Matters is a leading international dementia care culture change organisation based in the UK, Canada and Australia. We provide consultancy, learning development, training resources and practice based research. We believe a new culture of care comes from focussing on a model of emotional intelligence.

The heart of care is all about emotional care. This requires a shift in care services from only providing task based care. The shift from ‘doing’ it to achieving real emotional connection is at the heart of ‘being’ person centred.

Dementia Care Matters has a “Feelings Matter Most” approach. Life is an emotional journey; we all crave real human connection. This applies even more to people living with dementia. People learn to trust emotions and rely more on themselves as feeling beings rather than thinking beings.

This philosophy comes from the knowledge that people experiencing dementia live with a condition that affects their ability to process facts, logic and thinking.  However, feelings and a persons’ spirit remain.  In the absence of being able to rely on facts, logic and thinking along with this experience of dementia, feelings become more important.  As dementia progresses, the expression of feelings becomes more vital in how people living with dementia communicate and experience the world around them.

The training we offer is about exploring the ideas personally that underpin these approaches; examine how they fit with their own experience of working in dementia care, in supporting people living with dementia and to think how you can improve the daily lived experience of people with dementia by being a part of this whole philosophy.

The phrase ‘person centred care’ is used in this model of care as it is in many other dementia care learning programmes.  However, we offer this perspective:

From our experience care settings do not change and become ‘person centred’ as a result of just having training, standards and competencies. Care settings change because the people leading it have faced the truth about the experience of people with dementia living in aged care homes.  The truth is that many care settings are consumed with getting ‘tasks’ done whilst people with dementia sit bored and lonely in lounges.

Dementia Care Matters has conducted over 750 audits in aged care homes and we find that on average people living with dementia are not living but instead experiencing ‘neutral care’ (boredom, tasks being ‘done’ to them in silence, being asleep) for 70% of the time we audit. 

Therefore this model of care aims to challenge beliefs and attitudes that underpin much of current dementia care practices. It also aims to support, inspire and reinforce beliefs that many committed staff already have about person centred dementia care.

At Dementia Care Matters we encounter managers, nurses and care staff supporting people living with dementia for whom the ‘Feelings Matter Most’ approach fits exactly with who they are and why they came to work with people living with dementia in the first place. We believe that person centred care begins with ourselves. How can people be expected to implement a person-centred approach if they themselves are not treated in a person-centred way at work or in their personal lives? It’s about getting back to basics.

Step inside a Butterfly Dementia Care Home in the UK, Australia & Canada where like a butterfly, the people working there are transforming their family members’ lives with gentle flitting, colour, movement, touch and stillness.

Gone are the uniforms, drug trolleys, staff toilets, large dining rooms, and features of an institution. People are no longer seen as ' residents ' but as family - the old culture of ‘them and us ' swept away. Task orientation, standing around watching people eat, ‘doing to’ people and having staff notices ' put up ‘in peoples’ own home have no place in this model of care. Detached management styles and an over focus on processes belong to the malignant social psychology of the past.

Instead people living and working together come alive sharing their histories, eating, laughing, and supporting each other to recall who they were. Living in the moment is key - helping people to be reached and connected to whoever they now need to ' be '.

The driving force behind this movement in dementia care Dr David Sheard, Founder of Dementia Care Matters left his employment in 1995, after 15 years in the UK National Health Service, with the words “I won't run factories in dementia care anymore.”

Dementia Care Matters offers Care Home Development, Learning Products and Resources, Tailored Consultancy and Training, Mattering in Hospital and University Recognised Learning in person centred care, leadership and training skills.

The Dementia Care Matters Australian Team is available to help transform your organisations culture! Please contact us info@dementiacarematters.com or visit our website www.dementiacarematters.com.

Written by: Helen Blayden, National Director of Dementia Care Matters

Helen Blayden is an experienced Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Dementia Care, Nursing Education, Coaching, Medical-Surgical, and Medication Administration. Strong professional with a Diploma in Frontline Management focused in Aged Care from Positive outcomes.

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