Throughout 2022 we are providing monthly content to help you find out more about the key principle of person-centred care featured in the calendar for that month.
Person-centred dementia care prioritises the value and worth of the person and their experience as its starting point. From this perspective, the goal of care is to support the personhood of people – those things that make us unique and worthwhile in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. All behaviour and psychological states experienced by people living with dementia are understood as being responsive to a person’s internal world and their environment, including their values, life experience, and social and cultural identity. These aspects of living with dementia are seen as communications, often of unmet needs, and those needs are the same human needs shared by everyone.
Person-centred care overlaps with provision of support services (often known as disability support) and with best-practice standard medical and nursing care, both of which are ideally offered in an individualised and humanistic framework. However, it is different in its core emphasis on personhood and by the way it privileges attention on strengths and on the purpose of behaviours and psychological states that others may find challenging, rather than focussing on care needs or on symptomatic relief.
Person-centred care is one of the three pillars of best-practice care for people living with dementia alongside being supported to have care needs met and the more medicalised aspects of dementia care. None of these three pillars is sufficient by itself and all are necessary for good care. Dementia services in Aotearoa New Zealand are ripe for further development in the person-centred direction.