USING THE STAY AWAY METHOD FOR DEMENTIA HOME CARE
The “Staying away” technique is popular when moving into a community. However, this technique can also be applied to introducing home care. Home care has many benefits including:
- Reducing caregiver burnout.
- Improving the relationship between the person with dementia and the caregiver.
- Providing more mental stimulation for the person with dementia
- Presenting new socialization for the person with dementia
However, it can take time for a person with dementia and the home care aide to get into their groove. This is when it is important for the caregiver to stay away. Staying away means that the caregiver does not assist in providing care or provide any feedback as the aide is providing care or interacting with the person with dementia.
WHY DO WE NEED TO STAY AWAY?
It can be difficult for a caregiver to sit back and watch a new aide make mistakes that could potentially upset the person with dementia. However, being present vs staying away could make or break the long-term success.
How does one learn
Trial and error can be the best way for an aide to learn. According to B.F. Skinner, psychologist and behaviorist, operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behavior and a consequence. Only about 20% of what we are told is retained. When I train professionals, they participate in experiential learning. Ever heard that you should allow a child to touch a hot stove and they’ll learn to never touch it again? Allow the aide to make mistakes and the reactions of the person with dementia will provide the operant conditioning to learn. A dementia consultant can help to reinforce that conditioning through understanding and explanation of the “why.”
Dementia is unique to each individual
You may hire an aide with dementia experience, but we know that dementia looks different for everyone. There are a lot of factors regarding the person with dementia (personality, family dynamics, education, past experiences, generation, likes, dislikes, etc.) that impact the way we provide care. Experience with the person with dementia will supplement the knowledge the aide has. It can be frustrating when a company sends someone with dementia experience and you feel as though they don’t have it. They haven’t met your family member yet therefore, they have no experience with your family member with dementia.
If a caregiver interjects or interferes with the care and interactions, the learning curve is greater and will negatively impact the time it takes to transition the person with dementia into accepting a homecare aide.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE STAY AWAY METHOD
Staying away can be tough. But there are some ways you can prepare to support the aide, the person with dementia, and yourself during this phase.
- Provide a list of likes and dislikes: You know your loved one better than anyone else. You have probably been providing care for some time so you’ve learned their likes and dislikes. Provide this information to the home care company and the aide. Know that it may not all be applied initially. Be patient.
- Schedule yourself time outside of the home: It is hard to watch someone you care about become upset. This happens when someone moves to Assisted Living, but you’re not there to see it. If you work from home, can you work at a coffee shop instead? Maybe you haven’t been to the gym in a while or need a haircut. Get out of the house to decrease your temptation to engage or interfere.
- Check in with the aide and home care agency: Ask how else you can help. Does the aide need more materials for activities? Perhaps they’d like to cook a special dish to bond with your loved one. How can you support them?
- Leave discretely: You’re a support system for your loved one and your departure may be a trigger for them. If you are able to leave discretely, they may be less triggered.
WHEN STAYING AWAY DOESN’T WORK
This method does not always work. However, there are three common mistakes that are made when introducing home care.
- Treating the aide as an outsider: It can be weird to have someone in your home that is not a part of your family. If you’re feeling this way, it’s likely the person with dementia is also feeling this way. Including the aide in meals, greeting them as a friend, and including them in conversation will be helpful in establishing them as a safe and welcomed person.
- Showing your frustration: Families are often frustrated when aides do not get the care and interactions right on the first day or even the first week. People with dementia read emotions quite well and they’ll follow your cues. If you’re frustrated, they will not respond well to the aide. So keep that in mind.
- Not taking care of yourself: Just like a person with dementia picks up on emotions directed at others, they’ll pick up on your day-to-day emotions and stress. Find some ways to perform self-care. Meditating, exercising, sleeping, taking a long shower, being productive, cleaning the closet. Whatever brings you joy and relaxes you!
- Assuming your technique is the right technique for aides: Sometimes, your technique works because you’re the one performing it. Proper techniques for how an aide should carry out care may be completely different. While trial and error can work, it may be beneficial to hire a dementia consultant to help with developing the correct techniques.
The specific transition technique will vary for each person. Sometimes, when proper techniques aren’t determined, a home care agency may choose to discontinue services and leave you back at square one. A dementia consultant can help prevent this by developing an individualized transition approach and support. If you believe “staying away” is not the right is technique for you and your loved one contact Trovato Dementia Services for your free phone consultation.