Introducing new support personnel
Caregivers of people with dementia generally identify three transitions in the trajectory of the disease: the time of diagnosis, when they realize a need for formal care and when the person cannot live in their home anymore. Transitioning from being the sole caregiver to involving payed support personnel can be stressful. On the other hand, formal care can provide freedom and relief for you as a caregiver. A good collaboration with new personnel is key to reducing stress, and to enable the formal care to have a positive impact.
When introducing new personnel, remember that you are the expert on the person with dementia’s habits, interests and needs. You can provide a list of helpful tips, e.g. routines that are important for the person with dementia, if the person with dementia has a habit of hiding or loosing objects in a specificplace, where to find reminders such as a schedule the support person can use to support the person with dementia in orienting through the day. Talking about dementia in general and talking about what the person you are caring for needs, depends on the support personnel’s knowledge about dementia. If you are introducing a cleaner, they might not know a lot about dementia, compared to a nurse or someone from a dementia helping service. It might be a good idea to pass on good sources of information like a pamphlet or websites you find useful. You are doing both the person with dementia and the support personnel a favor by offering your insights.
Consider how much the person needs to know, depending on the length of the encounter. How much you need to tell them, to retain the person with dementia’s integrity? There is a different information need for the taxi-driver taking the person with dementia somewhere once, compared to a weekly cleaner. For instance, it can be good to tell the driver that the person has dementia, and if there is something, in particular the driver needs to keep in mind. “He has dementia, so make sure he gets in the right building” can be enough, to maintain both safety and integrity for the person with dementia.
Try to limit the number of support personnel. Try to imagine yourself as a person that always has kept the house clean. Suddenly someone else is cleaning your house, and to complicate further, you do not recognize him or her. It is easy to imagine this situation as making you feel at a loss of control. If the persons helping the one with dementia is someone that knows the persons habits, interests and needs, they can use their insights to calm potential stressful situations. It is not always possible to have only one person helping you with everything, as they have different competences and bounds. Reevaluate the persons helping you regularly, and see whether you can do anything to limit the amount of people.
Talk about social interaction. When someone is assisting the person with dementia in his or her home, make sure to emphasize the importance of social interaction. The person with dementia still has social needs, and might benefit from someone new to converse with. The magnitude of the need varies from person to person, and you as a caregiver have insight to this.
Talk about involving the person in daily activities. When someone is assisting you in your home, talk with him or her about how to involve the person with dementia in daily activities. It will be beneficial for the persons’ physical and mental health to assist in daily activities.
Use the opportunity to find some time for yourself. When you are introducing new support personnel, try to think about how it can give you an opportunity to find time to cater to your own needs.
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