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This content is taken from the Newcastle University's online course, Dementia Care: Living Well as Dementia Progresses. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Feeling secure and feeling as if you’re loved and probably having things around you that are familiar or people around you that are familiar. I think comfort to me means to feel safe, to feel secure, feel content and soothed and in a relaxed, calm way. “Comfort” being an umbrella term, really, for a state of ease– and it captures lots of different needs, need to feel safe, the need to have company.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds And if you can achieve that through making sure that the person’s physical needs for comfort are met, which might be around pain, it might be around not having infection, around self-care, if they’re met– and then you think then about their emotional needs because when delivering care, if it’s to somebody who is physically or emotionally unwell, it’s about making them feel safe and feel better. So it’s individual to the person. You’ve got physical comfort, emotional comfort, spiritual comfort around making sure they’re pain-free. Their nutrition– their hygiene needs are met. It’s about their spiritual needs, as well, and a sense of belonging and personhood, and as well as religion. It’s all unique to the person. Everyone has different values and beliefs.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds And it’s making sure that that person’s beliefs as a whole are kind of met so that they feel valued and comfortable. We’ve got to remember that people with dementia have still got the same emotional and physical needs as ourselves, except for they can’t communicate them as well. So we’ve got to be a person sent out and work with the family up around things that they know about the person so we can care for them as best as we can. It’s more or less the same as someone without dementia. But with dementia, as the dementia progresses, the person can change. Their likes, their dislikes can change. Their capabilities can change. Family members can change, and their needs change.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds So it’s ensuring that their care plans and the way you deliver care is adapted to meet their needs. Care and comfort to me is about alleviating all forms of distress and suffering for my patient and their family at the most important point in their life. I think care contributes massively to somebody’s comfort. So they can only have comfort if they have good care. And again, that’s whether that’s physical care or psychological care. So I think the two things do definitely marry. It’s really overall knowing that he’s happy that I really want at the end of the day.

What do we mean by care and comfort?

Feeling cared for and comfortable is important to us all.

As dementia progresses the person’s comfort needs are likely to change (we explore this in more detail in Week 2). However the person may become less able to make these changes themselves or to tell others what they need to feel comfortable and secure. To respond to changing needs it is important to recognise and understand them.

In this video, family carers and healthcare professionals share their views on what care and comfort means, and how this might be achieved. They explain why achieving care and comfort is particularly important for people living with dementia.

In the next step we will explore what care and comfort means to you and the person you support.

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This video is from the free online course:

Dementia Care: Living Well as Dementia Progresses

Newcastle University