Making a genuine connection with people with a dementia – Anna Terry
Time is a valuable resource and making a genuine connection with people with a dementia takes time and thought. In our busy lives we seem to be constantly short of time and our engagement with those around us is often rushed and task orientated. We are good at ‘getting things done’ or sorting out practical issues but what people with dementia want most is quality time and a connection that is appropriate for them as an individual and as focused as possible to their needs and likes. This approach is often described as ’person-centred care’ but whatever the label we need to think about how we can practically make this happen.
Most of us benefit from some assistance to help us make a meaningful connection with people with a dementia in the time we have available, whether that be a hospital visit, care home visit or family involvement. We, at Activities to Share firmly believe that by ‘sharing an activity’ with a person with a dementia, whether that’s folding laundry, chatting over tea, peeling spuds or doing a jigsaw we stand a much better chance of making a natural, appropriate and meaningful connection. The more we know about a person the easier it is to select the most appropriate activity (not everyone likes jigsaws!) but even if we don’t know the person well we can have a few ideas up our sleeves – a local newspaper, an old photo of a familiar place, soft items to stroke (whilst a trainer I used to give delegates a few chiffon scarves ask them to pick a partner and spend 5 minutes just engaging – the results were amazing!) It’s a tall order to expect people to properly engage if they don’t have the ‘tools for the job’ but unfortunately in many settings care staff are expected to provide activities with very few resources.
Activities to Share was set up in 2010 by Anna Terry and Simon Birtles after 15 years as trainers in Health and Social Care and Dementia, with the knowledge that carers would be able to connect with people living with dementia so much better if they had the ‘tools for the job’
So whether it’s one of our specially designed activity products, or a simply a local newspaper and a cuppa, we know through experience that time shared together whilst engaged in an activity will be more enjoyable, more meaningful and more satisfying for all involved. Our products aim to stimulate all the senses, appeal to both men and women, assist those staff whose first language is not English and are varied enough to cater for people with a wide range of interests.
Try them and see!