Whether you’re a professional clinical dementia care provider or the family caregiver doing your duty out of love, it’s important to keep a focus on safety. Ultimately, it’s about keeping good habits – and where necessary, starting new good habits.
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. According to Worksafe BC, learning and following safe work procedures includes:
- Asking for training where needed
- Using protective clothing or safety equipment
- Thinking safety — never engaging in horseplay or working while impaired
- Immediately reporting an unsafe situation or any injury
Safe Caregiving for Patients with Dementia
Dementia adds an extra layer of complexity to any situation. Caregivers need to be extra careful to maintain their own well-being and that of the client. Worksafe BC provides helpful examples:
- Sometimes people with dementia can become aggressive or even violent with little or no warning. If this happens, remove yourself from the situation – and be sure to warn anyone else who is involved in caretaking.That said, in many cases, aggression results from basic needs not being met; before looking for external causes or assuming a situation was simply random, check to see whether all of the patients needs were being addressed prior to the incident.
- Touching a dementia patient or taking hold of their cane or walker while they are moving can result in an aggressive reaction. The patient may believe their personal space is being ‘invaded’. If you note these behaviors, be sure to tell others to prevent incidents.
- Bathing or providing personal hygiene help is essential for some patients with dementia – but these moments also have the potential to spark problems as patients become anxious. Encouraging the patient to be responsible for as much of their care as realistically possible, reassuring them and where necessary, distracting them, are useful behaviors for reducing stress and ensuring the caregiver’s safety from an unexpected reaction.
Caregivers already deal with many stressful situations – but preventable accidents can be a negative tipping point for both them and their patient. Make safety a priority in everything you do!