Jul 07, 2017

Four letter words in aged care

I use so many four letter words where I work; caring for people living with dementia, but not the ones you are thinking about right now.

People who share their lives with us come to LIVE not die; the staff endeavour to make every day special during the TIME we spend with them making every moment count with laughter and humour.

I recall when asking my grandmother of 83 what she would like for her forthcoming birthday and she responded with “A Vase of Time”, of course at the age of 8 I thought she meant the herb Thyme, only later did I realise what she meant. We need to be reminded sometimes especially in the twilight years how special time is to all of us, and how precious life is.

We always ensure everyone feels SAFE in their environment even at times when they may feel confused or bewildered. Family and friends are always welcome at any time of day, and relationships flourish and grow between staff, the person living with dementia and their loved ones. It’s called relationship centred care; ensuring the needs of the person living with dementia are met and fulfilled and communication channels open at all times.

We are trained to recognise when someone is suffering from PAIN, because people living with dementia may find it difficult and often impossible to communicate what and how they are feeling. So we need to study body language & behaviour changes so we can ease the pain either with comfort care, a heat pack or medication for pain relief.

We also give HOPE to the people we care for, ensuring they realise they are important and special in every possible way. The staff I work with have hearts of GOLD, they certainly don’t do it for the money; they provide quality care because they are gifted souls who know how to nurture and make everyone feel welcome and unique. They all have the GIFT of making those around them feel special and valued, skills and experience go hand in hand yet kindness and empathy are both free.

The environment can become noisy at times with comings and goings; yet making the atmosphere CALM at the same time allows inclusiveness to all in the family home.

Most importantly of everyone is surrounded by LOVE, not only by their own family and friends but from all the staff that make it their daily choice to enter their lives and join together in each and every person’s own special life journey.

Whatever the journey each person is experiencing it is our role to ensure they are treated with dignity, respect and compassion. We sing we dance, we laugh we cry, but above all, we do it together as a surrogate family.

There are many more special four letter words we use when caring for people living with dementia but none of them are derogative or defamatory. So there is a place in society for four letter words but only if they are the NICE words. They are the ones used by staff every day who really do CARE.

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