According to Alzheimer’s South Africa, there are more than
36 million people with dementia worldwide and the number is expected to rise to
over 115 million by 2050. In South Africa, the USA and Germany there is an
incidence rate of one case in approximately 68 inhabitants, which means that
about 730 000 people in South Africa have dementia.
alone underscore the need for caregivers in nursing homes to be able to
effectively communicate with a person living with Alzheimer’s disease. According to Nicolene Schoeman, a Consultant at Oticon South Africa, the
adoption of a person-centred approach when dealing with persons who have
Alzheimer’s disease could not only lead to an improvement in their quality of
life but also decrease the effects that institutionalisation may have on a
resident of a nursing home.
little training is given to nursing home caregivers who deal with persons that
are living with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Schoeman. “The person-centred
approach requires a change in the caregiver’s communication and listening
skills in order to facilitate a more appropriate interaction process.”
Centred Care (PCC), as introduced by Kitwood in 1997, is an ethical approach to
caring for persons living and dying with dementia, and evaluates the care being
delivered, through the eyes of the person receiving that care. It is a
holistic and comprehensive delivery care system that meets each individual's
core needs of love, identity, comfort, inclusion, attachment and
occupation. It acknowledges and accepts each resident as a whole person
and provides moral and ethical development of care staff.
masters’ dissertation was entitled ‘The influence of a communication
orientated workshop on the interaction between nursing home staff and persons
with Alzheimer’s Disease’. The study investigated the interaction
between nursing home caregivers and persons living with Alzheimer’s disease
within a nursing home environment, both before and after the attendance of a
communication-orientated education workshop for the staff.
results showed a significant change in the communication and listening skills
of the caregivers. Not only did it increase their knowledge and
understanding of the disease but it also changed their perception towards
persons living with Alzheimer’s disease in a positive way,” explains Schoeman.
disease and related dementias can gradually diminish a person’s ability to
communicate. Not only do people with dementia have more difficulty expressing
thoughts and emotions, they also have more trouble understanding others.
“There is a
definite need to implement dementia care that is based on the principles of
person-centred care,” says Schoeman. “The approach will enable caregivers
to observe the behaviour of a resident and to recognise differences. A
good example is when the resident starts speaking less often and starts relying
on gestures, that it might be because they are finding it difficult to come
across the right words,” explains Schoeman.
requires a great deal of patience and humility to provide a person living with
Alzheimer’s disease the care and dignity that they need. Listening
carefully, not just to what they are saying, but what they are not saying, is
important. Always remember that the resident is not less of a person,
just because they have Alzheimer’s disease,” concludes Schoeman.