The right to be the center of one's own life

This article is written from a Swedish perspective. Hopefully, it can inspire those interested from other countries.

There is a lot of talk about person-centered care, the individual's needs at the center, the patient being a part of the team. Creating a culture where vision becomes reality requires a lot of work. Participation is one of the cornerstones. The demand from the residents to be included in decision-making will increase. By strengthening the person-centered focus in elderly care, care staff can make a real difference in the lives of the residents by meeting their individual needs and wishes in a respectful and dignified manner. It's about creating a caring and empathetic environment where each individual feels appreciated and respected.

Foto: Mostphotos

Strengthening the Person-Centered Focus in Elderly Care

People born in the 1920s and earlier are a group of people who have been very contented. What happens now when people born in the 1940s start moving into our elderly care homes? Those who move into elderly care have significant care needs, but they have different demands on life and know their rights. These are people who are used to making demands and who do not settle for beautiful documents. They will not accept restrictions on freedom and rights. They will claim the right to drink wine with their meals and love when they feel like it. The elderly care staff are facing a challenge.

Person-Centered Care and Individual Needs at the Center

There is a trend in society where authorities and legislators are increasingly emphasizing individual rights. It is spoken of the individual's needs at the center and person-centered care.

When it comes to medical treatment, patients nowadays read about it online. Often, they have already diagnosed themselves before they go to healthcare. It can then be difficult to respond to this in a good way and to make a professional assessment where other aspects are taken into account. Licensed professionals have a responsibility to make a professional assessment regardless of what the patient thinks about their condition. At the same time, care should be designed in consensus with the individual.

In elderly care, there is talk about ÄBIC - the elderly's needs at the center, focusing on the individual's needs and the individual's wishes rather than what services can be provided. ÄBIC highlights nine points that mean particularly much:
• Learning – applying knowledge
• General tasks and demands
• Communication
• Mobility
• Personal care
• Home life
• Interaction between people and relationships
• Important areas of life
• Community social and civic life

Relatives are increasingly well-read and know what demands can and should be made. In addition, there is a public discussion about competence and content in elderly care.

Planning Creates Calm

Planned activities rarely create stress. With planning, the elderly get the help they are entitled to. The planning takes place at various levels. Everything from ensuring that all residents get good medical visits to implementing the plan in everyday work. Purchases and outdoor activities, everything needs planning.

At some elderly care homes, the operations feel stressed, as if everything or most things are of an urgent nature. Sure, urgent events occur, but most of the things that happen are expected and there should be routines for how and when it should be done.

How does the planning of care for the elderly work? Everyone should have an implementation plan that describes what social needs the resident has and how they will be met. There should be time for the resident to tell how they want it.

The nursing assistant listens, reflects, and updates the implementation plan. Then the colleagues should be informed about and familiarize themselves with the agreement. The work with the residents should be individually adapted and not standardized help the same for everyone. The resident rarely has influence over who comes and helps with the shower. Then it can be extra important to decide how the shower should take place.

Good planning increases the opportunities to remember and meet the elderly's needs. It can be about sitting down and talking for a while or for example remembering name-days and birthdays. The food and medicine that meets the elderly's basic needs usually work well, but with a lack of planning, what the individual has been promised and longs for can be forgotten. Similarly, planning activities that put a golden edge on existence.

Prioritizing Individual Needs:

Strengthening the person-centered focus in elderly care is about seeing each individual as a unique person with their own needs, wishes, and preferences. Here are some measures that care staff can take to maintain this focus:
Individual Care Planning: By creating individual care plans for each resident, the staff can identify and meet their specific needs and wishes. This means taking into account everything from medical needs to personal interests and social wishes.

Ongoing Evaluation and Adaptation: It is important to regularly evaluate and adapt care and support based on the residents' changing needs and wishes. By listening to the residents' feedback and involving them in decision-making, the staff can ensure that their needs are met in the best possible way.

Respect and Dignity: Showing respect and dignity towards each individual is fundamental to a person-centered approach. This means listening to the residents' opinions and wishes, respecting their integrity, and giving them the opportunity to participate in decision-making about their own care and support.

Continuity and Relationships: Building strong and trustful relationships between the residents and care staff is crucial in creating a person-centered environment. By promoting continuity in care, the staff can develop a deeper understanding of each individual's needs and wishes.

Benefits of a Person-Centered Focus:

Increased Comfort and Quality of Life: By meeting the residents' individual needs and wishes, the elderly care home can contribute to increased comfort and quality of life for the residents.

Improved Health and Well-being: Having a person-centered focus in care can contribute to improved health and well-being for the residents by meeting their specific needs in an adequate way.

Stronger Relationships: By building strong and trustful relationships with the residents, the staff can create a safe and supportive environment where the residents feel seen, heard, and respected.

Reflection - Decision-Making Right in the Residence
Care Staff:
• Have you noticed a change in lifestyle or value base among those moving into your residence?
• Is there a risk that those who formulate requirements get better care at the expense of others?
• What do you do to make the resident and their relatives involved in the implementation plan?

Manager, Nurse, Occupational Therapist, and Physiotherapist:
• What demands will the development put on you and your way of working?
• Is your work with risk analysis, medication reviews, doctor visits, and updating of health plans coordinated with the evaluation and revision of implementation plans?
• Do you evaluate the team's collective work and are residents and relatives included in planning and evaluation?

Resident and Relatives:
• What do you think about the demands for change that are made on elderly care?
• Do you feel that the operation is planned or event-driven?
• Do you get information about meetings and activities in good time?

Erland Olsson
Specialist Nurse
Better care every day

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