'Behaviours' is not a dirty word

4 Aug 2015 8:25 AMDPT DPT

There are too many labels in nursing that are negative. Be an advocate for the elderly to stamp out this malady.

A common phrase in Dementia Nursing is “challenging behaviours”. From a recent workshop run by the Dementia Training Studies Centre we learnt that this word ‘challenging’ should be scrapped when describing People with Dementia (PwD). All behaviours are a form of communication. This communication stems from discomfort from pain, hunger, being too hot or cold, frustration or noise overload etc.

Behaviours are not an ‘act of attention’. Too many times a PwD is labelled as an ‘attention seeker’. This is an infringement of the PWD’s right to be treated as an individual. If you hear this label don’t stand for it - speak up for the PwD. Ask a co-worker or RN the triggers for a behaviour and what strategies can be put into place to help assist the PwD.

Things you can do as an AIN to make the PwD more comfortable

Ask if you can put a bed bound resident into a tub chair and take them outside for fresh air. People kept in their room all day will be restless. An example is “Bert”. He was left all day in bed and was continually trying to climb out. If he were taken out into day room for sunlight and to watch the world go by he may not be so restless. Plus give him something to use his hands with. Something to ‘work” with. This will occupy him.

Use more words than just 'carespeak'. Carespeak are instructions AIN’s use throughout the day. For example ‘I’m going to roll you now’ or ‘Its time for dinner’. From the workshop it was stated that carers only talk to a PwD for 10 minutes each hour and this 10 minutes is ‘Carespeak’. Talk to the person about their past life - Family, photos or paintings, medals etc. that are in their room. They will feel listened to.

When putting someone to bed give him or her a comfort toy or doll to cuddle to help settle him or her. It’s better than sedatives and more likely to work.

Give them a cup of warm milk and a hand massage before bed to help calm their mind. After a day of personal care, manual handling with nurses coming and going they maybe a bit rattled and exhausted.

Treat a PwD as you would want to be treated - with love and compassion and many behaviours will be minimised.