Building long-lasting relationships in dementia care
Sandra Garbutt, a Blue Care personal carer, reminds us that at the heart of caring relationships are respect, empathy and curiosity. Building long-lasting relationships in dementia care are key for this big-hearted personal carer.
‘I love what I do - I get to sit, chat and have a cup of tea with some incredible people.
It’s a privilege to hear their stories, it’s so important for us as carers, as humans, to respect their lived experiences.
It truly is quality time that I get to spend with my clients.’
Sandra has been caring for people in the south side of Brisbane from Springwood to Sinnamon Park for over 14 years.
She provides in-home care to help people with dementia live well and safely in their own homes. She also provides in-home respite care, which gives carers a break. Just as importantly, the service also ensures that people living with dementia are supported to take part in meaningful activities, from gardening to going to the movies.
‘I love what I do, every day is different. Each person I meet has their own unique story to tell.’
Sandra approaches each person individually, whether it’s a shower, medication or wellness check, Sandra always takes time to connect.
‘It’s whatever they might need.’ Sandra explains of her respite care role. She takes time to really probe what they want to do. They might plan outings together, or they might just sit and chat.
‘Respite care is so good because you get so much time to get to know each other. To really know their likes and dislikes.
We all really enjoy the visits.’
Sandra recently undertook a TAFE course in dementia care to better support people living with dementia in their own homes.‘
The course was excellent. It made me think: “Oh my goodness, I can do that, I can put those strategies in place and implement them for my clients.”’
She says that there are small things we can all do around our homes to help our homes be more dementia-friendly.
‘You can hang signs up around the house so that it’s easy to find the toilet and shower.’ Sandra explains. This can help people living with dementia who may get confused and forget where things are at home.
‘Having photo books and albums of family, friends, and experiences can be so helpful. We can look through them together and take time to really connect,’ she continues, photos are such a great conversation starter for people living with dementia, because their long term memories can be so vivid.
Having a conversation, and actively listening to people who have dementia is so important, says Sandra. Everyone deserves to be heard, to live life to its fullest.
Too often people with dementia are sidelined or isolated because they get confused and sometimes that behaviour can be really challenging, Sandra explains.
‘I try to look beyond what's on the surface, to see if I can help with an unmet need.’
‘I love what I do, the support I give helps people live, full independent lives, which they deserve. We need to bring it back to the person.’