We are specialists in dementia living.
At Cedar Lodge, around half of our residents have some form of dementia. We can honestly say that it presents itself differently in each individual.
Because what we strive to never lose sight of at Cedar Lodge, is how people living with dementia are still people. And each person is different.
Of course, the illness may impose barriers. And people may be less capable of doing a particular task. However, there are still things that people living with dementia can do. Behind the haze dementia casts, there is still a thinking, feeling person.
Our job at Cedar Lodge is to make sure that residents with dementia continue to live well in spite of their illness.
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What is our Background with Dementia ?
Each member of our care team receives dementia awareness training when they come on board. However, we like to feel our home’s thinking around dementia goes deeper. It started over 7 years ago. When our home’s manager, Rupert, was still a care assistant.
At the time, dementia was gaining recognition by the government. On a national level, conversations were being had on how best we should approach the disease. With the backing of Worcestershire County Council, Rupert managed to get on a 10-day course, which gave him a fascinating insight into the treatment of dementia. It inspired him to learn more.
Shortly thereafter, Rupert enrolled in a degree at the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies. Based out of Bradford University, the unit has been one of the UK’s leading research centres on how to live well – and importantly, on how to care well – for people with dementia.
The centre was founded by Tom Kitwood, a researcher who pioneered the ‘person-centred approach’ to dementia care. His methods have become the gold standard when caring for people with the illness. And it’s his approach which we adopt with every resident who lives with dementia at Cedar Lodge.
What is our Person-Centred Approach?
What is a person-centred approach? Well, if you were a resident at Cedar Lodge, this means that you are more than just the sum of your illnesses. Dementia does not define you.
This may manifest in the little things – like when we introduce new members of our care team to a resident. In this instance, we will always focus on that individual’s personality, their interests, and what they can do. The things to be celebrated.
Only after this, do we then explain if they live with any conditions, like dementia, that should be recognised. Allowing staff to tailor their communication to that individual. Our staff’s first and lasting impression of residents is seeing them as people. Not dementia. Similarly, our care team will never pass off a resident’s behaviour as simply ‘dementia’.
Just like all of us, people living with dementia have complex needs, thoughts and feelings. Even if the illness is clouding their ability to communicate these through conventional ways. Our job as carers is to therefore find out why someone with dementia may be acting in a given manner. So, if they have an unresolved need or concern, we can address this – keeping them happy.
We even have a formula for it.
DE = NI + H + B + P + SP
Or when spelled out…
DE [Dementia] = NI [Neurological Impairment] + H [Health] + B [Biography] + P [Personality] + SP [Social Psychology]
What does this mean?
Taught by the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies, the formula lists the main avenues you should investigate when someone with dementia displays unexplained behaviour. It could be…
Neurological Impairment: So, a manifestation of how dementia is affecting their brain.
Health: For example, a resident might be in pain from arthritis, or have a UTI, but lack the ability to communicate this.
If you downplay the action a person takes as just ‘their dementia’, you miss things.
More often than not, if someone is acting out of character, we will first offer them a paracetamol. As their behaviour could be the result of pain they cannot verbalise.
Biography: Has a resident been transported to an earlier chapter of their life – or are they living a previous memory that is influencing their present action ?
Personality: Is there a known trait in that resident’s character which can explain their current behaviour ?
Social Psychology: Has something upset them in their immediate environment – perhaps a disagreement with a fellow resident ? Or are they anxious at having lost their glasses – and are showing this concern through the unusual behaviour.
We’re probably oversharing here. Of course, you don’t need to know the theories we apply on a daily basis, when caring for residents who have dementia. But we’d like you to know. If only so it shows how serious we are about our dementia care.
We’re self-professed geeks on the subject – we find it fascinating. And should your loved one move into Cedar Lodge with dementia, we will give them the support they need to live as well as possible in spite of their illness.
Other initiatives we have in place include…
Names on Doors: We place every resident’s name and photo onto their bedroom door.
This is to make it easier for them to recognise their room when they take themselves to bed. We find this works to reduce any anxiety and promote greater independence in the daily routine of our residents who live with dementia.
Tactile Approach: At Cedar Lodge, we focus on tactile caregiving.
When caring for dementia patients, touch is a critical non-verbal communicator. A hug or a hand held can make all the difference in demonstrating to a resident that you’re listening. And that you will help them with whatever they need.
When caring for residents with dementia, there are several words that our care team ban themselves from using. It’s a small gesture. But it goes a long way…
At Cedar Lodge, we don’t describe residents as ‘wandering’. Wandering implies that someone is walking aimlessly, without purpose. But 99% of the time, a person with dementia will not simply be ‘wandering’. They will have a purpose which has compelled them to start walking. The reason could be health related: their legs could have cramp, or perhaps they have a headache and are searching for pain relief.
Alternatively, the reason could be psycho-social. And by this, we mean that a fellow resident may have annoyed or upset them – so they’ve decided to remove themselves from the situation. In any case, when we begin to paint people as ‘wanderers’ – as so many care homes do – we miss the opportunity to find out what’s really wrong. Perhaps worst of all is when these individuals are told to sit down.
In doing so, their needs aren’t addressed. They are not given the tailored care they deserve. This is why we avoid the phrase wandering – a trifling comment perhaps, but one which ensures our standard of care remains high.
Aggressive is another word that we don’t use in reference to residents. ‘Aggressive’ conjures images of an immutable character trait. When someone is deemed aggressive, it quickly becomes a label that they’re tarnished with. If a resident with dementia shows this type of behaviour, it’s more than likely there is a reason that has provoked them to this action. So, rather than labelling people as ‘aggressive’, we use the word agitated.
For like all of us, we become agitated by things that have upset us. By electing this reference, we recognise there is likely a trigger for a resident’s behaviour. As carers, it’s then our job to find the root cause of this agitation. Enabling us to resolve their problem, restoring that resident’s happiness.
When considering care, families will often fear that care homes will move on their relatives who are wrongly deemed ‘aggressive’, on account of their dementia. At Cedar Lodge, we are a safe place for residents to be themselves and of course, on occasion, express their agitations. If they do, we will always be there to listen.
What happens when Dementia progresses?
Dementia develops at different speeds. When some people are diagnosed, their symptoms remain fairly mild for the rest of their lives.But for others, they experience a more rapid decline. This journey is of course difficult for those living with dementia and for the people they love.
Nonetheless, you can have confidence that if your dementia progresses, we will do our best to adapt our care to meet these changing circumstances. And only as a last resort, when it will soon no longer be safe to keep caring for you, do we help you look for a new home. A home that’s become better suited to your needs. We won’t rush you into a decision and we’ll be with you, every step of the way.
If you’re interested in learning more about our dementia care at Cedar Lodge. Give Rupert a call on 01386 293 033 .
We’d be delighted to tell you more about our service.