Care Certificate

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Communication and Dementia

Video 92 of 249
3 min 32 sec
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If you are dealing with someone with dementia, what's the best way of communicating with them and understanding what they are actually saying?

Communication is key with any care, but it's more important with dementia because people who suffer from this disease will have challenges with hearing you, being able to focus on what you're saying. And also, when you communicate something, they may not do it because they'll forget about it, they'll be distracted. They may not have actually heard what you've said, and that can be very, very frustrating for a family member and often we hear one of the big complaints is "They don't do anything we say, they don't listen to us," and it's very, very sad. Because what we've got to be able to do is understand that they've got a challenge, understand that they are living slightly different the way we do and that is perfectly natural that they didn't hear you. So we need to calm down, reinforce them, we need to be quite tactile, maybe touching, and make sure that they're focused on what we're saying.

So with the multicultural society in which we live in where there's a lot of people with different languages, accents, and then you've got a service user in a care home, what's the best way of communication there? Is there anything that they can do to help that?

It's a two-way street, really. One of the issues is that obviously family members may be foreign. There is a situation I'm aware of where a lady from Poland had to go into a hospital and that she had someone from another culture talking to her which was a doctor and she didn't understand him. It was very distressing for her. However, the care home was very good and what they did was they actually employed two Polish workers themselves and that issue went away. You could also have, especially in this country where we've got multicultural within our employment, we look at equality and diversity and therefore you will have people from many different parts of the world.

What we need to understand that in every situation people may have broken English. People may react to that language in a different way. They may have heard past experiences of that country that may not have been fantastic, maybe on a holiday or something like that. And we need to make sure that those people get the support to be able to give the care that they need to give. We've also got to remember that if it's not written it didn't happen, in care. So we need to document, document, document.

It's also important to talk directly to someone and again with the touch so they know that they've been spoken to, rather than just sort of looking away and talking at a distance and making sure that eye contact. Is the eye contact important?

Yes. Eye contact is massive as is body language. If your body language is very close then they'll be very close to watching it. With dementia, they tend to mirror, and they will mirror you as a compliment. What they are saying is that actually you're really good and I like you and everything. So if your posture is really bad, if you've been affected by something that's happened within the home on that day, then that could cause you a challenge because those people will pick up on that and then they will mirror you.