For someone who has learning disabilities and dementia, it is important to establish a philosophy of care to reduces the levels of stress within that person, as well as those surrounding them. Here at LDCareTraining.org we have provided three key points to aid mindfulness for those with learning disabilities and dementia. These are a) producing a life story book and making a special fun box, b) thinking ahead and being prepared, and finally c) following routine and creating a calming environment. Within this post I will elaborate on how training can successful achieve these important points of care.
Life Story Book and Special Fun Box
The making of a life story book, which is essentially a photo album, with dates and captions creates a life story for a person living with dementia. Living with dementia can mean that ones field of vision and clarity of vision becomes more limited and so, eventually, they may only see what is directly in front of them. When this happens, then sizing up photos and captions will really help the person to see them more clearly. With rollback memory it is important to include all phases of a person’s life, correctly dated, which can further help loved ones and carers in understanding the person’s history and where they are in their roll back memory (see previous blog entry for more about Roll Back Memory). A box full of fun special objects, which can be handled, from a person’s past can be extremely comforting too. Suggestions for this box could be a Teddy Bear, Building Blocks, Books, Soft Ball as an example, they should be things they know and recognise.
Thinking Ahead and Being Prepared
Knowing a person well enough to recognise situations in which they may become stressed, is hugely important. This encompasses what thinking ahead and being prepared is, as essentially it is helping create a calm frame of mind. If you know the person has certain triggers, you are able to plan ahead to avoid them. For example, it is important to celebrate what someone with dementia or learning disabilities can do, so they feel included and failure free. Allowing them to carry out tasks, regardless of how well they may or may not be able to achieve them. See our free video on this on the website.
Understanding a person’s routine and habits is vital in establishing a philosophy of care. Never assume! A dementia workbook for staff can record likes, dislikes and situations likely to provoke stress. By providing clear and simple choices helps to achieve a calm environment, and not arguing with the person is crucial. In certain situations, you should ask yourself ‘does it really matter?’; enjoy their rollback memory, validate the experience and be with them in their world. By meeting their changing needs, you will help to reduce anxiety, and ultimately create a safe, secure, happy and enriching environment in which to live.
It is important to remember to go with the flow, forget targets and don’t stress or confront the person, in order to provide the best care possible. Keep communication simple and changes to a minimum, whilst continually planning the needs of their present and future. Be proactive and prepared and together we help them live fulfilled lives filled with meaning.