Each one of us was born with unique qualities. This uniqueness in us accompanies different needs, choices, and perspectives in life. And these qualities that a person has should be respected.
With the growing population of old aged individuals in New Zealand, there is an increase in demand of health care providers to provide care to them. In line with this issue, care providers must possess the passion in taking care of these people especially to those who are suffering from dementia and other health problems for it requires lots of understanding and patience to be able to take care of them. There are instances where the care provider only focuses on the physical disabilities of the person, giving little to no attention to the other important aspects or needs that might be the cause of the person’s challenging behavior.
In order to successfully provide care, a care provider must know the rights of the client and bear it in mind. One must also know the different principles and techniques that can be used in delivering care to clients with dementia and other health problems in order to further improve the quality of care being rendered to clients. This in turn,would help the person overcome certain issues or needs that the care provider fails to attend to.
Caring for the elderly is not an easy task much more when these old individuals are suffering from a condition called dementia and other related geriatric conditions. Some of these conditions may make the care difficult since the individual may not always know what he or she wants. Thus the caregiver should have the initiative to collect pertinent information on how to take care of individuals experiencing such conditions. The caregiver should conduct a comprehensive interview on the patient. Since the patient may not be a reliable source of information due to his condition instead the caregiver should collect the information from his or her family and relatives. Information such as what are his interests, hobbies, food preferences, and even his past wonderful memories. Collecting information on his interests and hobbies may give light to what specific exercises or activities one should provide to the client. For his food preferences this would facilitate good intake of proper nutrition as the elderly favors his meals. Important past events are a good way to start conversations with the individual further more this would allow the caregiver to discern what type of personality the individual has and thus allowing the caregiver to easily get along with the individual she is caring for.
All individuals have rights and the elderly are of no exception. As the deliverer of care to the elderly, we should know these rights and uphold them. They should be known to client even if they are experiencing certain health conditions. They must be upheld and constantly practiced.
Caregivers should always respect and whenever possible allow their client to choose how they would spend their lives. For example, the client has the right to choose what he wants to wear, eat, or even what to do. Another example would be when a client chooses what directives are to be followed when in the future their health continues to fail. Caregivers can help facilitate the client’s ability to choose by providing them understandable options on how care can be delivered. When a client chooses to have an advance directive the care giver should facilitate this by referring the client to outside sources for advice regarding the matter. Good communication between the care provider and the client is essential in facilitating the client’s ability to choose. With this the care provider should always listen and be open to what the client wants.
Caregivers are always by the side of the individuals they are caring for. They assist these individuals to almost everything they do may it be dressing, bathing, or even elimination. When assisting with these routines the care provider should always respect the privacy of the individual. The care provider should be sensitive with the sexuality of their client. A female care provider should be caring for a female elder and vice versa for male individuals. If the individual is capable of dressing or bathing himself, the care provider should allow him his private space. If a client wishes to be alone or be with someone, enough space should be provided for their private affairs. Confidentiality of a client should always be kept. Any information that is related to the client’s health should not be disclosed to anyone but the care team. The clients personal matters are of his own and a care provider should not interfere with such. These are but the some of the things where a care provider can uphold the privacy of client they are caring for.
Caregivers should not always assume that the one they are caring for always needs assistance in what they do. Instead caregivers should believe that their clients can take care of themselves and handle their own matters unless they show that they are not capable of doing so. Fostering independence among the elderly can uplift self-worth and eliminate unnecessary dependence on caregivers.
Elderly people especially those whom are experiencing geriatric health conditions are dependent on caregivers for care. Most of them need partial or full assistance on activities of daily living. However, partial or full dependence on caregivers should not mean that their dignity is compromised. They should address them properly and with respect. Caregivers should treat these individuals as the adults that they are and not as children.
Respect is always the beginning of service and care. If respect is given, care providers emit a positive attitude towards the person of care. These persons whom are treated with respect feel a sense of self worth and satisfaction. It would also foster a good working relationship between the care provider and the person of care. A care provider can convey his respect to the client by greeting or addressing them properly and observing proper manners when interacting with them. Giving unconditional service and care to clients are one of the primary ways one can show respect. Keeping their privacy and confidentiality are also other forms of respect. Respect should always be observed. By doing so, we maintain the dignity of our clients.
Autonomy otherwise known as self-determination connotes the ability of elderly individuals to decide over their own life. For caregivers it is important to take not that for autonomy to be significant, the elderly choices should be recognized and respected. Care givers should allow their clients to decide for themselves and above all they should respect it at all times. The elderly have control over their lives. The care giver has no say over what decisions they may make. If this is meticulously observed the autonomy of the elderly will be preserved.
- Institution perspective
This type of approach focuses on maintaining the health status of an individual as a whole which includes the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional aspect. It focuses on the person himself rather than the disease alone. Giving importance to these aspects would help the client to communicate his own self to other people and to their surroundings. This would also help the care provider to better understand his client’s behavior, individuality, and needs.
- Bio-medical perspective
Bio-medical perspective focuses only on the disease itself which includes treatment, medication, and prognosis. It does not look at the person as a whole instead it only focuses on the medical problem of the individual. The care given is not holistic and other problems that might later on affect the individual will not be attended.
- Reality-orientation approach
This approach is presenting reality to a person with dementia. An individual with dementia suffers from a cognitive impairment and depending on the severity of the disease it may cause the person to forget certain things such as the date, time, their family, their own name, life events, and even the usual things they do from day to day. Through this approach the care provider will present reality to the individual and help orient themselves to their surroundings and reality. However, this approach might affect the emotional and mental status of the patient because this approach can cause confusion. Care providers should be sensitive enough when using this approach to their clients.
- Validation approach
Validation approach is a technique used to old people that may have unresolved issues in their life. Through this approach the care provider validates their feelings in order to understand their behavior. This approach will help the client to communicate their feelings towards their care provider and help them work out their unresolved issues in life.
- Assistive technologies
Assistive technologies are the use of any equipment, machine, or device by an individual with dementia or older people with physical, cognitive, and communication disabilities. These devices are to maintain or improve their capabilities to function. With these technologies, performing tasks would be easier not only for the elderly themselves but also for the care providers. This would also give them a sense of independence, dignity, and self-esteem to the elderly who have disabilities.
- Reminiscence technique
Reminiscence technique is one way of knowing and understanding the person’s individuality, the person’s perspectives in life, and even choices in simple things. Through this, the client will be stimulated to remember his or her past and will somehow improve their personhood and improve their cognitive capabilities. Therefore, reminiscence is a very important technique for the care provider to use in order to help the elderly with dementia. This technique helps them to regain their self-identity and would also help the care provider to understand their behavior.
- Holistic Approach
Holistic approach is caring about the person’s individuality, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as a whole. The care providers should not only focus on the person’s physical disabilities but should also give importance on their other needs as an individual. Focusing on this aspect would make them feel whole again. Understanding the person’s emotional and spiritual needs would also help them release tension and stress that might improve their behavior.
- Public health and health promotion
Organizations that provide services such as awareness, promotion of health and disease prevention to the elderly is very important. These organizations, aside from the government, will help these elderly individuals know of what are their rights as an individual and as part of the society. Each person who is part of the society should have equal rights to health and as an unique individual different needs and assistance should be provided for them.
- Attitudes to health and demand for healthcare
A growing number of old aged people means an increase in the demand for health care providers. In countries like New Zealand where the elderly are usually sent to rest home facilities by their family, the primary provider of care are the nurses and health care assistants. These care providers must always be wary of their attitudes or on how they would deal with their clients. Observing and respecting the person’s individuality, and rights, and individualism should always be practiced. Even though the client has an illness or a disability, they still have equal rights just like others do.
Standard and codes of practice published for individuals with dementia and other common health conditions has a great impact to the care provided to the elderly. This serves as a guideline not only to the elderly but most especially to the care providers. Through this the care provider will be mindful of the different way in approaching their clients through knowing the different elements and principles of care. As a result, there will be a harmonious relationship between the client and the care giver thus would facilitate better providing of care.
After understanding the rights of the elderly and the different approaches to care for the elderly, I have come to discern and recommend that:
- Effective monitoring of care to assure that human rights are incorporated in the delivery of care to clients;
- Conduct orientation programs to effectively inform the elderly of their human rights;
- Effective training to caregivers on the proper approach of care to clients;
- Conduct continuous and effective training on techniques to improve care to clients;
- That care givers should be flexible and be observant on the proper approach to care for their clients;
- Conduct seminars on the holistic approach to individuals with dementia or other geriatric health conditions.
There are various ways in delivering care to an individual experiencing dementia or other health problems. Using the principles of care and the different techniques in meeting the needs of the individual is important to deliver care. This will serve as a guideline for health care provider to successfully meet the expectations of the elderly and help them in their needs in taking care of them. Through this, the care giver will know how to address the different and unresolved issues of their clients at the same time giving them the best care by attending to their needs not only to the physical aspect but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well.
Ethics Programs (2014).Geriatrics: Decision-Making, Autonomy, Valid Consent and Guardianship. Retrieved from http://www.miami.edu/index.php/ethics/projects/
Equality and Human Rights Commission (2014).Principles for good home care. Retrieved from http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/our-legal-work/inquiries-and-assessments/inquiry-into-home-care-of-older-people/principles-for-good-home-care.