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Are you there? Facilitating relationships between residents and care staff through a ‘positive connections’ strategy

McDonald, T. A., 2007

Conference, Sydney


Background: People who work in aged care are naturally inclined to kindness with those less capable. Published evidence suggests that associations between people with dementia who display aggression significantly increase the stress of nurses and carers in aged care settings. However, the nature of care work can require staff need to quickly build genuine relationships with those in their care and often the information gathered on residents is inadequate or not easily accessible.

Objective: The aim of the project was to test whether care staff relate more comfortably with residents with advanced dementia and some agitation when they are provided with an easily accessible summary of the person’s pre-dementia past.

Methods: An intervention study was conducted following a review of therapeutic communication literature and management policies on workplace safety. The Positive Connections strategy involved the construction of an easy-t0-read, single page account of the person living with dementia and personal facts about their likes and dislikes. The intervention was implemented within a 26-bed high care dementia unit in Sydney focused on building genuine relationships between people in residence who have advanced dementia symptoms and care staff within the service. The project acknowledges the research around effects of dementia on relationships and also effects on health of a diminished social circle and opportunities to relate with others in a meaningful way.

Results: Attitudes and perceptions of care staff were tested before and following the implementation of the strategy were improved with staff stating that they felt more confident in providing care to residents living with advanced dementia.

Conclusions: Findings in terms of staff comfort level in approaching residents, and entering into interactions with residents while drawing on known preferences and pre-dementia values, led to the implementation of this intervention to other areas of the organisation

CITATION McDonald T. (2007) Are you there? Facilitating relationships between residents and care staff through ‘positive connections’ strategy, Hammond Care 4th National Conference on Depression in the Elderly, Sydney, June


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