The Department of Health unveiled a new campaign today on the NHS choices website to help people understand and help more with people who have dementia. Though the campaign raises awareness of how rife the stigma associated with dementia is (where 1 in 3 people feel uncomfortable around someone with dementia! ) However, their literature seems to offer advice that does not fit with the “feeling matters most” philosophy.
One of the ‘5 simple ways of helping someone live with dementia’ is understanding the condition – ironically the NHS pamplet seems to contradict this by touting reality orientation techniques under their practical tips – this insinuates that wall calenders and plastering your home with yellow sticky notes will better the wellbeing of a person who has dementia, although this only serves as a constant reminder of their disability i.e. short term memory loss. This therefore does not offer greater understanding to empathise with what that person is going through.
Reality Orientation is not a fully evidenced based policy and many carers have testified probelms with it. To apply it consistantly is time consuming and in many instances does not produce greater wellbeing. It is questionable that the Department of Health have advised this as “practical” instead of promoting foremost the happiness of people with dementia.