Jun 14, 2019

“I see residents struggling with grief, depression, fear and confusion… borne of loneliness and boredom”

I have been confronted and have challenged staff about several encounters that have directly involved and affected my husband and, consequently, me also.

These incidents have included patients’ need for comfort during episodes of delirium, intrusive and aggressive behaviours and patients’ need for companionship.

I have sought advice through My Age Care and have researched Dementia Australia advice to understand suitable interventions to disrupt unwanted behaviours, and have learned that proactive procedures and staff interventions are necessary to avoid unnecessary consequences.

I have made it known that I cannot condone unnecessary inappropriate attachments that some female patients are seeking from fellow patients, including my husband.

I believe that marriage must be respected by staff.

In response I have found that many personal carers do intervene to prevent unwanted behaviours that I have expressed as inappropriate, unhealthy and unnecessary.

I invest daily into helping my husband retain connections with our marriage and family values and I am doing my best to uphold my moral and legal responsibilities for his dementia care. I take him out for medical appointments, social outings and home visits and he is deeply appreciative of outings with family and friends, or just being at home with me sharing everyday home-based activities.

Daily, I see patients struggling with grief, depression, fear and confusion, often exacerbated by dementia delirium and all too often they are left without staff observation and suitable supportive intervention. I can see that many of these issues are borne of loneliness and boredom.

There are not enough daily interactive activities or appropriate recommended daily exercise activities for dementia patients.

I have assisted with some activities but all too often the program is not fore filled. I’m told this is because activities staff is not always unavailable for the activities scheduled. In consequence of this, then volunteers like me, cannot support the activities.

I was told that activities-staff hours is limited to budget restraints and also that it is difficult to find staff willing to work in this role.  I suspect that this is because the limited hours that are offered are not a sustainable employment option for most people.

Surely age care facilities do have a duty of care to help dementia patients to protect them, to preserve their personal dignity, family values and relationships.

Everyone working in dementia facilities should be ever mindful that dementia patients are patients of unsound mind and that they are not always able to assess and consider the responsibility, appropriateness and consequence of interactions with fellow patients.

I am wondering what others have experienced in dementia care facilities and how wives, husbands and families have coped with these problems.

By Dianne Baker.

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