One of the biggest demands facing nurses and support staff who work in care homes are the challenging behaviours that residents display every day. It is most commonly caused by people coping with dementia due to damaged brain cells, which leads to cognitive impairment, behavioural and psychological problems. These symptoms can result in physical, emotional or environmental adverse effects on both residents and carers alike.
Challenging behaviours often suggest that the resident is trying to articulate a feeling or need as dementia compromises a person’s ability to communicate. Because of this, these patients’ care requirements are often unmet.
So instead of questioning how can we manage challenging behaviours, question how we can help people with dementia meet their unfilled needs.
Once the cause of the behaviour has been identified it is then necessary to determine why it is occurring. The most common reasons are:
- Uncomfortable environmental conditions
- Challenging interpersonal or social relationships
- Excessive demands placed upon the person
- The absence of visual cues to help the person remain oriented
- A lack of routine
- The need for social contact or stimulation
- Too few activities during the day
- The side effects of medication or a response to the distress caused by hallucinations and delusions
To help you manage challenging behaviours, Search Medical has provided seven useful tips recommended by experienced professionals to follow.
1. CHANGE YOUR POINT OF VIEW
- See the person first, not their illness.
- Don’t take it personally when they repeat things, aggressively resist your attempted care or become verbally abusive.
2. KNOW THE PERSON
- Knowing more about the person will make it easier to engage them in positive conversations and calm them down when they begin to fall into trouble.
- Live in their moment and validate their feelings and thoughts.
- Do not patronise or rush their speech.
- Try to use non-verbal cues if their speech is difficult to understand.
4. ACCOMMODATE, DON’T CONTROL
- Redirect or curtail challenging behaviours by using calm reassurance or distractions.
5. CREATE A DEMENTIA FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT
- Family photos and soothing background music in communal places and bedrooms promote recollections and positive responses.
- Pictures and signs aid recognition of important rooms like toilets.
6. SUPPORT STRENGTHS AND ABILITIES
- Always encourage independent abilities, engagement in preferred activities and regular exercise.
7. IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION
- Always try to create clear eye contact and hold the attention of the person when speaking to them.
- Speak calmly, clearly and use simple sentences.
- Don’t repeat the same words if the person is struggling to understand them.
- Avoid asking direct questions and phrase them to encourage ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers when necessary.
By Chris Pritchard