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Try to make sense of people’s needs, wishes and concerns (i.e. what is really important to them or bothering them)

2014: Ethical dilemmas faced by carers and people with dementia

As you listen, try to make sense of people’s views, wishes and concerns. This will involve some degree of interpretation and you may need to dig deeper to explore some issues more fully (whilst respecting people’s right to privacy). It also requires an ethical attitude of “attentiveness” (11) based on empathy, concern about the wellbeing of others, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and perhaps stepping out of your own personal framework (e.g. of values and beliefs) in order to be more receptive to that of other people. The person leading the discussion should not, however, neglect their own needs, wishes and concerns which are equally important.

Measures should be taken to increase the potential of the person with dementia to participate in the discussions and possible decisions. It should not be presumed that they are unable to participate simply because they have dementia. There are various techniques to aid participation and support decision making (see also Alzheimer Scotland’s guide: Dementia: Making Decisions and the work of Baldwin and colleagues produced by the Alzheimer’s Society in England) (21) (22). The dialogue should be on-going, covering both the lead up to possible change or to a decision as well as the period thereafter.



Last Updated: Monday 08 February 2016