Challenges & Solutions, Life & Living, Toward better care

20 actions to foster and maintain dignity in dementia care homes

I was thrilled to learn that Australian dementia care advocate, author and activist Kate Swaffer included an excerpt from my “open letter to the dementia care community worldwide” in her statement to the Australian Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety (read the full statement here).

Kate’s comprehensive and thought-provoking statement comprises a wealth of information including a list of 10 Dignity in Care Principles, which Kate originally published on her blog in 2014.

Inspired by her list, I added ten more items to create twenty actions that long-term care providers and their staff could implement to foster and maintain the dignity of people living with dementia (PLWD) who reside in their facilities.

  1. Maintain zero tolerance of all forms of neglect and abuse
  2. Support people PLWD with the same respect you would want for yourself and/or members of your own family
  3. Treat each person living with dementia as an individual by offering a personalised service
  4. Address PLWD using their preferred name, title or other form of address
  5. Enable PLWD to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice, and control
  6. Encourage PLWD to do what they enjoy, whatever it may be, and give them the means to do it
  7. Listen when people express their needs and wants, especially when they uses actions to communicate rather than words
  8. Respect people’s privacy
  9. Provide appropriate, well-designed living environments that are comfortable, easy to navigate and welcoming
  10. Ensure people are able to complain without fear of retribution
  11. Engage with family members and carers as care partners
  12. Assist PLWD to maintain confidence and positive self esteem
  13. Act to alleviate loneliness and isolation
  14. Avoid the use of physical and chemical restraints
  15. Provide interesting, stimulating and appropriate things for PLWD to do
  16. Give PLWD opportunities to contribute and lead meaningful lives
  17. Treat PLWD like people, not like objects, or as if they are “lesser than”
  18. Connect with PLWD as fellow human beings
  19. Focus on what PLWD can do, not on what they can’t
  20. Avoid blaming, shaming and taming!

Preserving dignity is part of respecting human rights. We need to ensure it happens across the board.

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