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Add your voice to the conversation

Conversation Hubs and Workshops – Dec 2019

Are we being too kind in long-term care?  Yolande Brand reflects.

When I was growing up, I was taught that being kind and helpful was the right thing to do.  When asked ‘Why this degree?’ during my interview to enroll as an Occupational Therapy student, my answer was ‘to help people’.  

As a mother of a six year old boy, I understand the risk and consequences of being too kind to my son, of helping him too much and doing too much for him.  If I continue to do everything for my son, as I had when he was a baby, I withhold opportunities for growth (learning to tie his own shoes), for autonomy (choosing what clothes he is going to wear today), security (having confidence in completing tasks on his own) and joy (mastering new skills and enjoying outcomes that he achieved)…

The interesting and scary thing is that within the institutional way of doing, we have forgotten this lesson.  We believe that the more helpful we are, the better it will be for the residents. The more we do for them, the better.  

The consequences, however, of being too kind, remains the same for older individuals as for young ones.  The impact on their Domains of Well-being TM (www.edenalt.co.za) can be affected negatively if we take over and do everything for the person.  Opportunities for growth, joy, connectedness, identity, security, autonomy and meaning may unintentionally be taken away from an older individual because we are being too kind and stuck in the institutional way of doing.  

The answer lies in doing with the person, instead of doing for the person.  In offering support with the step(s) of an activity that they find challenging and to stand back during the step(s) that the person can complete independently, albeit, in some instances, slowly.   It lies in finding different ways to support instead of just doing for the person: giving prompts, using assistive devices, giving time, giving encouragement… 

This is not a quick fix… nor a magic wand.  It is, however, a way of being with the person, better valuing who they are and offering support that will have a positive impact on their well-being, and yours. 

Thank you to SACF and all who participated in the recent workshop where we discussed this question and together, found out about different ways to do with instead of for

Earlier in the year we had Andre Killian, pastoral psychologist, facilitate a day’s workshop exploring Self Care or Selfish – the choice is ours. A great time for each one to reflect.

Conversation hubs that were held included:

Death – the practicalities. This was led by Natalie van den Berg and proved so popular and useful, it was repeated so more people could attend.

Following on from this we had Michelle Dommisse, attorney, facilitate a Hub around The Legalities of End of Life. Again most useful information shared.

The Department of Health facilitated a meeting around Community Mental Health Facilities and the registration of homes serving people living with dementia.


If you have topics you want explored or know of interesting speakers please drop a mail to margie@sa-careforum.co.za