Dementia is a condition that leads to the progressive deterioration of a person’s behavioural and cognitive functioning. Problems with memory, independence, problem-solving, confusion, and judgment are among a variety of symptoms experienced by someone with dementia. As a Health Care Assistant (HCA), knowing what is necessary to give those with dementia the best possible care is an important part of the job. Giving the best possible care to these patients not only requires certain health care skills, but also patience, empathy, and excellent communication.
By providing the type of care necessary for those with dementia, you can help them improve their quality of life and be a helpful, friendly presence in their lives. Here are five tips for caring for patients with dementia to keep in mind if you’re hoping to become a Health Care Assistant.
1. Be Fully Aware of Anything That Can Happen, and Know How to Respond
The first and best thing any aspiring HCA can do before working with a patient with dementia is to understand the condition as much as possible, and be aware of how to address symptoms when they happen. Research the condition as much as possible so you know what to expect and understand what can trigger possible aggressive behaviours, and develop strategies for how best to help them manage their dementia.
2. Always Be Sure to Communicate Well With These Patients
Another pillar of caring for a patient with dementia is excellent communication. This is an important skill to have if you want to become a Health Care Assistant, especially since this can become more challenging when interacting with someone living with dementia. Maintain a friendly tone at all times, speak clearly enough for them to understand you, and use effective nonverbal communication with them whenever necessary, such as empathetic eye contact, a compassionate touch on the shoulder, and a gentle tone of voice.
3. Do What You Can to Help Them Maintain Their Independence
When someone has dementia, they typically have greater difficulty performing everyday tasks. This can include maintaining good personal hygiene habits, dressing themselves, taking their medication, eating nutritious food, and getting out of bed. Help them with these tasks whenever necessary, especially if they’ve shown to be at risk of falling or injuring themselves in some other way when attempting these tasks alone. Establish a daily routine with them as well, so that they can maintain a greater sense of structure and organization in spite of their condition.
4. Students Pursuing HCA Training Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Your HCA training can teach you a lot about what to expect while working in a care facility, particularly during your practicum placement. However, you’re likely not going to have all the knowledge you need to help those suffering from dementia as soon as you finish your studies. Therefore, don’t be shy to ask for help and advice from more experienced colleagues, especially during situations with a client that you find to be overwhelming.
5. Show Empathy at All Times, Even When Not Reciprocated
What’s most worth remembering when interacting with someone who has dementia is that they likely aren’t deliberately trying to upset you. The potential for aggressive behaviour is primarily brought on by the person’s condition, not your actions. Try to be an empathetic figure in the patient’s life at all times, and build a strong relationship with them based on that sense of empathy. This sense of compassion can show these patients that you care about their happiness and well-being, and that you can be a helping hand to them whenever they need it.
Are you interested in pursuing Health Care Assistant training?
Contact Discovery Community College today to learn more!