Dementia Care – a Personal Care Worker’s Perspective (Article 1)

There are a large number of articles that address the topic of dementia. Many of these articles are based on research, mostly authored by academics and clinical experts; others are reflections of the personal experiences of family members.

The reality of dementia care is that much of the care of dementia suffers is left to family members with support from personal care agencies who provide staff with qualifications in both personal care and dementia care.

With the increase in dementia as Australia’s population ages, there is a marked shift to care for people at home, in an environment that is familiar and comfortable.

This article (with several to follow in the series) attempts to bring a personal care workers’ perspective to dementia care.  This perspective was documented as a result of consultation with groups of personal care worker. The personal care workers involved in the study were trained in dementia care, and have significant years of experience caring for people with dementia still living at home, with a great deal of experience providing respite care.

All agree that a valuable approach to dementia care is to treat each person as a unique individual, regardless of their illness.

Personal Care Workers Approach to Dementia Care

Personal care workers, even though they are briefed on a client by case managers prior to commencing work, should not go into a home with any preconceived ideas.  All participants in the workshop believe it is imperative to not only view a person as unique, but to obtain as much information as possible from the client themselves, regardless of their stage of illness because every person’s background and interests differs significantly.

In consulting personal care workers they insisted each person with dementia should be treated like every other person.  There are many common threads to dementia but it does not justify putting all people with dementia into a one-size fits all category.  The message is clear – to work effectively and meaningfully with dementia sufferers the personal care worker needs to look beyond the illness a person has to see the individual.

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