Our Dementia Priorities

Our Priorities

It is possible to be happy and live well with dementia. However, many residents will not always feel comfortable or content. Often this may be because their needs are not met, which can result in residents feeling a range of confusing and frightening emotions. When caring for our residents who are living with dementia, we have three main areas of focus that we keep in mind: Communication & Relationships, Environment, and Nutrition & Hydration. This focus helps us deliver care that is centred to each individual and their needs, taking into account their type of dementia, their personality, and what they like and dislike. With this in mind, we're able to care for and support each resident individually with an approach that best reflect their needs.

Communication & Relationships

Living with dementia can affect an individual's ability to respond appropriately or follow a conversation. This could be because they do not understand what you have said, have less ability to keep focused or are unable to put the correct words together as a reply. There may eventually come a time when our residents can no longer communicate as they once did. Some common barriers to communication include language, accent, hearing and sight loss, environment, and speech difficulties. This can be distressing and frustrating for them, but there are ways to keep communicating.

Communication tools

Our Dementia Approach provides our team with the tools and techniques they need to better communicate with individuals with dementia. Sometimes it's little things that act as a trigger.  Our homes with Dementia Champions may offer a dementia workshop session for families all around communication and our overall approach.   

A person with dementia may think more slowly, lose focus or not be able to understand complex ideas. For example, they may take longer to process thoughts and work out how to respond to what is being said. They may also move from one topic to another without finishing a sentence as it becomes harder for them to focus. We know that residents living with dementia have difficulty expressing their feelings in the same way that we do, as they are not always able to verbally tell us what they are feeling. The residents' way of communicating to us that they feel alone, scared, frustrated or angry may be very different to how they used to communicate.  Our team will use positive interactions, reflecting words through body language, reminiscence tools such as memory collections or life story books, and will also use music as an aid to communicate. 

According to Mehrabian's Communication Model, when we express our feelings, only 7% of our communication is in the words that we are saying. Although residents with dementia may have more limited verbal abilities, they can still express their feeling through their body language and behaviour. Our dementia approach helps our team identify and understand communication and behavioural triggers to better understand what each residents is trying to communicate.  

Environment

Our care home environments can have a huge impact on the well-being of our residents. Due to changes in the brain, colour schemes and design features that might appeal to us, can make everyday life for some people living with dementia confusing and difficult to manage. Getting the design right for people living with dementia can reduce the number of falls, reduce the use of some medications and improve morale. 

At Four Seasons Health Care we have researched the impact of environment on those with dementia. We have developed guidance to help us make positive choices when refurbishing or redecorating our homes. There are some key principles we try to work to such as avoiding using heavily patterned wallpapers and keeping carpets plain coloured, introducing colour schemes which give good contrast between walls, flooring and handrails so residents can navigate easily and orientate themselves, trying to use matt paint where possible and flooring that doesn't reflect light too much. In all our homes we try to create a place to live that is homely, familiar and personalised to the individual. There are some simple but effective ways that we use to help residents to find their way around our homes, creating themed areas such as seaside or music and where possible using signage to help residents easily navigate their way around.

We are mindful that a chance of environment could cause increased stress or confusion, which is why we ensure all team members focus on building relationships with new residents, and ensuring there are familiar items in their bedrooms such as photos, ornaments or even furniture, perhaps their favourite armchair - whatever can help our residents to feel at home.  This can help someone settle in much quicker and also provide helpful conversation starters for any visiting family members. 

Nutrition & Hydration

Eating and drinking well for health and well-being is very important for all of us, but as dementia progresses, some people may experience problems with eating and drinking. There are many reasons for this, such as they may have difficulty recognising food and drink or they may even experience a decrease in appetite or difficulty swallowing. To combat any risks of malnutrition or dehydration as a result, we have 'Personal Food Passports' which form part of a our residents' care plans, and a copy is also kept with our Chefs in the kitchen. This Food Passport describes in detail each resident's personal 'food story' - likes and dislikes (although this can change) what they eat, when they eat and how they eat. This might include simple choices about tea or coffee, how many sugars they like or not, whether they like or dislike gravy with their meal, as well as any special dietary requirements. 

In addition, the passport covers any support that particular resident needs to eat well, for example if they need a quieter space, or they prefer to eat smaller portions at a main meal. This information is helpful to us not only to ensure their preferences are met at meal times, but also so we can gain an insight into what their eating pattern may have been like before the onset of dementia, and how it may have changed. 

Our chefs have also been trained in how to offer modified diets including soft diets for those with swallowing difficulties.  They have amazing ways of making soft diet food look just like normal food and very appetising. Our Dementia Champion programme helps the wider team understand how simple changes to mealtimes and hydration can positively impact how and whether a resident enjoys meals and drinks.  

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