How to care for someone with dementia

Dementia impacts everyone differently so as a social worker, it is crucial to be patient and get to know your client on a personal level so that you can meet their needs effectively. 

In this blog, we offer guidance on how best to care for someone with dementia based on official advice from the Department of Health. 

Don’t assume

Regardless of the stage of dementia your client is at, it is important not to make any assumptions about their ability to communicate or comprehend information. Assess where and how you can help make life easier but give the person time to express their needs themselves if and when they feel comfortable doing so.

Clarity is key when it comes to communication 

Try to avoid any abbreviations and be very clear about exactly what you’re trying to say. For example, the term ‘personal care’ might be too general so be specific and say “cooking and cleaning” or “washing” or whatever it is you’re trying to find out. Closed questions might be a good idea if the individual continues to be confused about what you’re trying to ask. 

Take a person-centred approach

This means putting yourself in the service user’s shoes and evaluating what their needs and interests are. It is also crucial to go at their pace – don’t rush them, take a holistic approach to getting to know them beyond their condition. The better you understand the service user, the better you will be able to effectively care for them. 

A person-centred approach is about “building relationships with people with dementia and their family carers, putting them at the heart of the decision making – ensuring the person is an equal partner in their health and care.” (Dowling et al 2006). 

Information overload is a big no 

When assisting with tasks, offer transparent instructions rather than complex or lengthy requests. One thing at a time. This is because can be distressing for service users with dementia to receive too much information at once. 

Be yourself!

Above all, your client will be grateful for your support, so don’t overthink it. Communicate clearly, be patient and try having a laugh now and again to lighten the mood and build rapport. 


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carlette Isaac

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