Autumnaged Care
Autumnaged Care

What is the Best Way to Approach an Aged Care Resident?

Autumnaged Care

What is the Best Way to Approach an Aged Care Resident?

One of the first lessons new recruits to aged care should learn is how to approach the aged care resident.

In our day-to-day lives outside of aged care, this is not something many of us give much thought to.

But in aged care, how the residents are approached requires sensitivity and thought.

The health conditions many residents live with, such as dementia, can cause some residents to become easily surprised or alarmed. They may feel more easily threatened, or they may have compromised spatial awareness.

It may be easy to startle a resident if they are not wearing their hearing aid.

For these reasons, the way residents are approached by care staff is vitally important.

If a resident is approached in the wrong way, they may fall, or they may even lash out and hit the person who has inadvertently startled them.

So what is the best way to approach an older person?

  • Always approach residents slowly and from the front. If you approach them from behind, you may be coming upon them completely unexpectedly – causing them to take fright or become confused or upset.
  • Try to minimise noisy distractions before you approach the person. For example, you might want to turn down or turn off the radio or television.
  • Say hello to the resident and use their name. Tell them who you are, and what you are going to be doing so they know what to expect.
  • Maintain eye contact. Always try to sit or stand in front of them when you are speaking to them.
  • Use simple language and speak clearly in a calm and gentle voice, but don’t use ‘baby language’. Treat the person with dignity and respect.
  • Treat each person as an individual. Understand their situation, and take their individual circumstances into account. Treat them with empathy.
  • Take the time to listen to what the person may be trying to communicate to you. This may mean pausing, listening and watching attentively. Look for signs they may be uncomfortable or in pain, and see if you can help them.
  • Be aware of your body language, which can be just as communicative as words. Move slowly. Your gestures can reinforce what you are saying. Make sure your tone of voice is encouraging, calm and positive.
  • Don’t be rushed, anxious or annoyed as the person may pick up on it.
  • Don’t argue or contradict the person.
  • If you try to approach someone and they don’t respond, maybe try again later when they might be feeling more responsive. Don’t force residents to talk to you if it appears they don’t want to.
  • If you need extra support on these points, ask your supervisor or mentor.

If you follow these tips, when you approach a resident in aged care you are less likely to cause them alarm, and the path to communication and helping them will be much easier.

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