Seeing Beyond Dementia: How Person-Centered Care Puts Patients First

Have you ever heard of the term “person-centred care?” Popularized by Professor Thomas Kitwood in his book, Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First, the term is as straightforward as it sounds: prioritize a caregiving strategy that preserves integrity, shaped around the needs and dignity of the patient. Today, in dedication to those who count on us to preserve their voices, let’s spotlight the importance of person-centred care. 

The Personhood Kit Project

Launched in 2017, the Personhood Kit Project aims to prioritize person-centred care in the context of dementia treatments, particularly as the patients decline into a worse condition. When this happens, it’s essential that loved ones and caregivers alike focus on the four components incorporated into the kit: family, hobbies, attributes, and occupation.

Why is this? Well, we know that dementia can’t be outright “cured” yet – all we can do as caregivers is make them comfortable and safe while keeping their minds positive and stimulated. Understanding the patient’s story – who they are, what they’ve experienced, what they enjoy – can contribute to them being more receptive and open to care services. After all, relationships take work – we need to show that we’re listening, not talking! 

The Ultimate Treatment? Connectivity

Establishing a deeper, more personal understanding of patients’ needs and interests is critical to us at Qualicare Waterloo – it’s how we’re able to form lasting bonds with those whom we look after, treating them as friends. Building these friendships strengthens the connection, better-enabling us to custom-tailor care plans. For instance, if they enjoy a certain hobby or would like extra time to play a game of chess, we’re glad to help, and the same goes for considerations towards dietary needs, lifestyle preferences and more. 

The Art of Finding Solace

Dementia patients, as they decline, often undergo tremendous stress on the mind due to frustration, sadness, fear of the unknown, and other negative emotions. By keeping their minds focused on favourite hobbies, memories, loved ones and other elements conducive to positivity, we can ease this process. Helping patients preserve a healthy state of mind in the context of mood, and it also avoids the doors being closed on critical information relayed to caregivers. For instance, if we can keep a patient relaxed, safe and at ease, they may be able to communicate specific needs that could otherwise fly under the radar. 

When it comes to dementia caregiving, the caring aspect is critical. The Personhood Kit Project and Professor Kitwood’s writings serve as the foundation for our work, putting patients first as human beings with stories, feelings and voices. To deliver the finest care, they must be respected and valued.

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