Background: Dementia is a significant challenge to modern-day health and social care, especially given a rapidly expanding and ageing population. Provision of effective and quality care for people living with dementia and their families is testing health and social care systems that are already financially stretched, with staff shortages and high turnover, while being subjected to higher levels of regulation and scrutiny.
Aim: To explore ways in which health and social care professionals understand notions of spirituality in relation to dementia care.
Methods: A qualitative phenomenological investigation was undertaken involving a group of 17 health and social care professionals who had completed a Dementia Leadership Programme. Individuals were invited to participate in a semi-structured interview. Participants were presented with a dementia-based scenario detailing a hypothetical patient living with dementia, with their family in crisis. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was utilised to ascertain idiographic, phenomenological insights into each healthcare professional’s notion of quality care and addressing higher-level goals for the hypothetical person living with dementia.
Results: Spirituality was presented as a major theme in the way participants strove to provide person-centred care. Spirituality was expressed through ensuring the patient remained central to all care provision and care management and by addressing spiritual aspects of care within the initial assessment and providing holistic care and support for the patient’s family. Person-centred care was considered essential to operationalise priorities of maintaining care at home through innovative and adaptive care, thus promoting patient happiness and quality of life.
Conclusion: Participants acknowledged that the challenges associated with providing ‘truly’ holistic and person-centred care can be overcome by focusing specifically upon the personal narrative, biography and story of the individual living with dementia searching through their life meaning and discourse to gain understanding and insight into the uniqueness of the person.
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