Dementia: The ‘Gale Force’ Approach to Caring

Yesterday I posted a suggested Code of Conduct for guiding our approach to Maureen.  Later in the day I realised there was something else that we needed to sign up to.  We need to ensure that our communication with Maureen is always  supportive to her reality.

As I watched our carer  in action yesterday I saw what was needed to go alongside a Code of Conduct.   All Gale’s communication with Maureen was compassionate and reflected her reality.  I could not fault her performance and I have shared aspects of it below.  I have tried to summarise the priciples behind how Gale interacts with Maureen as something that we all need to sign up to.

Maureen was still sorting her underwear out when Gale arrived, so I managed to update her on recent developments.  I then suggested that she popped upstairs to see if Maureen needed any help.  She asked Maureen if she  wanted anything adding to the shopping list that I had drawn up.  Maureen said she was quite happy to leave things to me, and sent Gale on her way to Lidl.

Gale returned with our food shop as I was about to leave for a hospital appointment.  As I was on the door step I heard her ask Maureen if she wanted to help her unpack the purchases.  Then she played her trump card by saying: ‘Shall I pop off after we have unpacked or shall we have a cup of coffee and a natter?’ Maureen happily accepted the latter.

When I returned from my physio appointment they were still chatting together in the lounge.  With the banter that came my way I knew that Gale had worked well – yet again.  She has the remarkable ability to work out what Maureen wants on the day and then respond appropriately.

After Gale had gone Maureen said how much she had enjoyed chatting to Gale.  When you think about how Gale approaches her work it is not surprising that Maureen enjoys her company.  We all need to do it the ‘Gale way’ and sign up to the following:

  • Focus on listening not talking
  • Give Maureen lots of space to do her own thing
  • Never give Maureen any bad news or negative information
  • Never contradict Maureen’s reality:  particularly over time or day
  • Let Maureen take the rest she feels she needs
  • See Maureen as a person: not someone with dementia
  • Follow the principles of’Compassionate Communication: including telling Love Lies


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