Engaging individuals key to dementia support

Engaging individuals key to dementia support

Bolton Clarke teams are finding new ways to support independence for clients and residents with dementia.

September is Dementia Awareness Month, and the theme is Small Actions, Big Difference.

Bolton Clarke Clinical Nurse Consultant – Dementia, Tracey Jarvis, said small actions could play a real role in enabling At Home Support clients with dementia to stay at home for longer.

“We interpret the results of cognition assessments and work with our teams, clients and families to implement safety changes,” she said.

“For example we work with clients and their families to develop a safety care plan that puts things in place like a personal alarm and appliances that turn themselves off.

“Addressing people’s needs could be as simple as setting up a drinking station for a client to ensure they take enough fluids in the summer, or having carers prepare small meals and grazing plates of finger food if they find it difficult to sit and eat a meal, or use utensils.”

Introducing a robotic dog made all the difference for Gertie at Bolton Clarke's Cabrini community at Westmead, NSW

Introducing a robotic dog made all the difference for Gertie at Bolton Clarke’s Cabrini community at Westmead, NSW

In Bolton Clarke’s residential communities, behavioural support specialist Elisabeth Elder said initiatives included trialling the use of virtual reality to reduce agitation, and as a tool to educate staff by replicating the experience of dementia.

“Many clients and residents experience changed responses as part of their dementia journey, which creates stress for the person and their family,” she said.

“The key is discovering residents’ interests and providing everyday activities they enjoy and in which they can participate.

“Exploring ways to engage each person as an individual and reduce the factors that trigger their changed responses can produce excellent results.

“The right environmental changes can make a big difference to behaviour.”

Elisabeth’s interventions include creating a shoe cleaning station that gave purpose to a resident who rarely moved from her chair, and incorporating wedding gowns, baby dolls and other sensory items into Bolton Clarke Memory Support Units. Preloaded iPads with dementia-friendly games, landscapes incorporating items like a men’s shed and a caravan with awning, kitchens that give residents the freedom to cook and items like a dressing tables stocked with jewellery and a piano are among items introduced to respond to individual interests.

Introducing daily small group activities has also been effective, as well as environmental changes like introducing contrast to table settings with coloured tablecloths and white crockery with coloured rims.


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