#CareToChat wrap up: The role of emotional intelligence in dementia care

At the BCCPA’s Care to Chat on Wednesday, David Sheard pointed out a fact that’s often overlooked—that just like everyone else, people with dementia crave real human connection.

Sheard, CEO and Founder of Dementia Care Matters, was the keynote speaker at the Care to Chat on the Butterfly Model of Dementia Care at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on November 15th.

Sheard’s model of dementia care began in the United Kingdom 22 years ago, and is now thriving in five countries. The model is based on the core belief that designing for dementia is not about buildings first, but about transforming the culture of care.

Changing a culture of care is not for the faint-hearted, Sheard said. Dementia care training doesn’t work on its own if detached from an organisation’s core belief and motivation to deconstruct itself to create a new culture.

Transforming dementia care requires organisations to adopt a model of emotional intelligence, attached leadership, and “matched households” that are designed keeping in mind the needs of people with perceptual difficulties.

In an emotional, challenging and insightful presentation, Sheard shared how the first seven Butterfly Home Projects in Canada are faring, and how emulating their practices can drastically improve care for seniors with dementia.

The future of dementia care, he said, relies on creating communities with a “feeling of being.” Recruiting caregivers with high emotional intelligence can go a long way in improving quality of life for residents with dementia.

“It’s more than possible to be professional and attached,” Sheard said.

After the talk, Sheard led a three-hour workshop where participants experienced what it really takes to create a care home where people living with dementia flourish, live longer, fall less, and eat more.

In this interactive session, participants shared some of their own harrowing experiences, learned how to identify and recruit individuals with high emotional intelligence, and left with practical steps on how to create a new culture of care in their own care homes.

They heard about why seniors in Butterfly Homes are not sedated, why “behaviours” disappear, and how people come alive again. They also saw how staff at these homes feel it’s no longer like coming to work, and have forged deep attachments with the seniors they care for.

Below are some tweets from Care to Chat.

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