Our dementia care philosophy

Knowing feelings matter most is the start

Life is an emotional journey. We all crave real human connection. This applies even more to people living with a dementia. People learn to trust emotions and rely more on themselves as feeling beings rather than thinking beings.

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

Accepting a person’s reality makes sense

All of us live in our own reality. Joining someone in their reality, entering their bubble, is the only way to reach people.Trusting there is always a way to reach another person is at the centre of valuing people and life.

In positive focused dementia care this begins with seeing, hearing and feeling the lived experience of people on a minute by minute basis. Leaving the bubble of our busy work lives to enter the bubble of peoples lived experience is the beginning of good quality dementia care.

Facing the truth requires real leadership

In dementia care, leadership involves facing different types of truth. It is not easy to take a mirror to oneself, and to outdated models of care. It involves facing the truth in what as a Manager and leader we are responsible for delivering now. Leadership is about creating services that hold up an exciting mirror image of what dementia care can look, sound and feel like.

Detached management has created institutionalised task based ‘care’ lacking real emotional connection. Attached leadership inspires people to be whole people at work. Real leadership is demonstrated through the heart and not just the hand. Leadership, not management, is what being person centred is all about.

Becoming a butterfly increases positive moments

We all live in the moment – moments matter. For everyone with or without a dementia all we have is now. We cannot yet fix dementia as a condition. We can fix our approach. Showing people living with a dementia that we know their feelings matter most can transform lives.

Dementia Care Matters has developed an approach using the metaphor of a butterfly. Staff who ‘get it’, know in their heart that quality of life matters. They learn how to look, sound and feel like butterflies at work. Being natural in dementia care involves flitting between people, being still, connecting, creating colour and changing moments.

Being a star in dementia care works

Adults learn through reflecting on their experiences. Real learning requires expert facilitation. For too long dementia care has relied on teaching or awareness raising training. This may inspire some individuals but it does little to transform care practices.

Our innovative learning methods develop the capacity in people to become real stars in dementia care. Being a Star focuses on improving self awareness and emotional intelligence in people. This is the route to providing high quality emotional care. Being A Star transfers skills development into measurable action.

Coaching skills leads to action

Coaching creates practice based evidence. Coaching is the way to transfer learning directly into practice. Coaching involves imparting a mixture of inspiration and passion with new learning. Enabling staff to experience repeated practice and reflection on their learnt skills leads to improving people’s daily quality of life. Coaching works when this is coupled with inspiring leaders committed to ensuring that measurable action is achieved.

Supporting staff’s emotions produces strength

Competencies and qualifications are no match for emotional intelligence. Feelings, spontaneity, being self aware, and flexibility are what counts in being person centred. However, being person centred is not easy as an individual. It involves a lot of giving. It involves a lot of emotional connection.

The emotional support of staff trying their very best has to be at the core of services aiming to be person centred.

The symbol of a gladioli represents being given a break, being sincere and having strength of character. Demonstration of these values requires a clear strategy on emotional labour. For staff to be person centred they also have to receive person centred care from their employers

Developing dementia care is like magic

Service development in dementia care needs its own special form of magic. Transforming dementia care isn’t rocket science. However, simple ideas can be difficult to implement in
complicated organisations.

Creating magic can take phenomenal levels of creativity, endurance and dogged determination. Maintaining momentum matters in dementia care.Achieving sustainability is important for those who have already been working incredibly hard to improve people’s quality of life. The old culture is powerful and can so easily return when backs are turned. Sharing our consultancy expertise is the way to help other staff who have service development responsibility to produce their own magic in dementia care.