The communication interactions of health care aides and individuals with dementia

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Wolf, Lynda
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Abstract It is estimated that by 2038 over a million Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of dementia with nearly 443.000 living in long-term care facilities. Non-professional health care workers such as health care aides provide most of the direct care to these residents. The interaction skills of health care aides have a significant impact on the function, communication skills and wellbeing of residents with dementia. The purpose of this study using Strauss and Corbin’s mode of grounded theory was to develop a mid-range theory to describe and explain how health care aides perceive and understand residents with dementia and how this perception impacts the way they interact with these residents. The sample for this study was made up of 24 health care aides who worked with residents with dementia in personal care homes in Winnipeg. Data from audiotaped individual and group interviews were analyzed using grounded theory methodology: open, axial and selective coding. The central category was “The Resident being perceived as a Respected Person”. The resulting theory shows that when health care aides perceive the resident as a respected person with whom they have a relationship and as a care recipient with challenging behaviors, the health care aides use communication enhancement strategies and modify their caregiving to meet the resident’s unique physical and emotional needs and challenging behaviors. The interactions of these health care aides in this study were consistent with the principles of person-centered care and the literature about communication and dementia. The facilitators of this perception of the resident were primarily the personal characteristics of the health care aide and the inhibitors were the time constraints, workload, and lack of support of peers and supervisors. This theory has implications for the training and supervision of health care aides and the organizational structures in which they work. Key words: Health care aides; dementia; communication; long term care; personhood
health care aides, long-term care, communication, dementia, personhood