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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds SPEAKER: In common with many other people with dementia, there are problems in the communication between Peter and the staff of the nursing home. For instance, we know that Peter likes to be called by his full name and not by Pete. Also, Peter finds terms such as “sweetie” and “love” to be patronizing and inappropriate. The key is to know the person and to change your language the suit them. We have identified that Peter wanders and tries to leave the care home, and becomes resistant when staff try to bring him back to his chair. A good response depends on the person-centered assessment of Peter and how well we know him as a person.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds Peter’s resistance might be because he doesn’t want to sit down or it might be because the manner in which he is being approached. Try to see things from his point of view. A stranger has just approached him, taken him by the arm and seems to be trying to take him somewhere. If this happens to you, you would resist, wouldn’t you? As you will recall, Peter has become agitated and aggressive when staff has tried to take him for a bath. Peter had used to shower before breakfast, however, because of the necessary routine of the nursing home, this has not been possible.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds It could be the case that Peter is struggling to understand the world around him because his brain is misinterpreting information. This can be upsetting and frustrating. A potential resolution to this situation lies in how staff approach Peter. Leading on from work done by the Alzheimer’s society, there are a number of strategies which could potentially help communication. Staff should approach Peter from the front using his preferred name. Using a familiar greeting may help them as he has difficulty remembering faces. Reducing external distractions, such as the noise from the television, may be beneficial. Eye contact is important, so staff should ensure they are on the same level as Peter when they are talking to him.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 seconds Having someone standing over you can be intimidating. Staff need to be self-aware in relation to their nonverbal communication. A non-hurried approach is important, and this could be effected in body language and facial expressions. Using clear, simple language and giving Peter the chance to respond will help. It may take him longer to process information, so staff need to be patient and can help by repeating the question. Sometimes Peter becomes confused and says things which don’t reflect reality. Contradicting or disagreeing with these statements is likely to increase tension.

Peter and communication

This video explores Peter and communication. Watch it carefully and think about the issues identified and possible solutions.

  • What are some of Peter’s problems with communication?
  • How do they contribute to his behaviour?

Share your thoughts with your fellow learners in the Comments.

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This video is from the free online course:

Dementia: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviour

University of Birmingham