The word ‘behaviour’ has become a bit of a dirty word in recent times and I’m not quite sure why?  I think from time to time, we can all have ‘behaviours’.  Personally, I know my own behaviour is likely to deteriorate when I am tired, or hungry, or I feel like I have been repeating myself constantly and no-one is listening. 

Within the context of dementia and learning disability, we often hear the term ‘behaviours’ used. 

Unfortunately, people considered to have ‘behaviours’ are often highly stigmatized and viewed negatively within the care setting.  We need to understand that the person’s words and actions are expressing their reality, and we need to view the ‘behaviour’ as an attempt to communicate.

Central to person-centred care is a focus on supporting relationships and communication.  True person-centered care is about enabling people to live a life of their own choosing.  How we react and respond to behaviour is key to enabling people to enjoy a life of freedom from oppression.

All too often we focus just on the ‘behaviour’ rather than the person.  We need to shift our thinking from what the person has done or said, to what are they trying to communicate? What did we not do?  What did we miss?  What do we need to do differently? There is no one size fits all approach.  It comes back to person centred care.  It’s about knowing yourself and the person you are supporting.  What is their life story?  What are their likes and dislikes?  What makes them feel anxious or fearful?  What helps them feel happy and content?

OT (Australia)
Managing Director MCM
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