What is the Social Model of Dementia?

The social model of dementia is a way of caring for and treating someone living with dementia by seeing them as a person, understanding their background and history, and focusing on what they are still able to do – not just their disabilities.

This approach is opposite to the medical model of dementia, which focuses on the disease rather than the person, and can lead to a lack of independence and control, creating dependency and restricting personal choices.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome that is characterised by an ongoing decline in brain functioning. Signs of dementia may start gradually and get worse over time. A person living with dementia may experience:

  • memory loss
  • problems with mental sharpness (perhaps taking longer than usual to think or solve problems)
  • having trouble with language, understanding and judgement
  • changes in mood
  • problems with movement
  • difficulties carrying out normal daily activities

Find out more about the different types of dementia, the cognitive needs of someone with dementia and how dementia affects the brain.

What Are the Social Needs of a Person with Dementia?

When a person is living with dementia, their social needs do not change, but the way they communicate these needs does. People living with dementia are often excluded from society, and their social needs are not met. Care in accordance with the social model of dementia is person-centred, and focuses on the rights of the individual. This promotes independence by placing emphasis on the things that they are still able to accomplish.

The social model of dementia and person-centred care is about treating each person as the individual that they are – everyone is different and will not have the same social needs. Knowing the individual that you are caring for very well will ensure that you understand what they may require. Lack of insight into a person’s life, over stimulation, poor physical environment, undetected pain or discomfort can all contribute to agitation, aggression, and depression. These negative changes in behaviour can be minimised with the right communication, which comes from knowing and understanding who you are caring for.

Why a Team Approach to Dementia Care is Important

The most effective person-centred care for someone who is living with dementia can be implemented using a team approach. In a care home, a ‘whole home approach’ is where every staff member works as a team to provide care, engagement, support, and hospitality to each resident no matter their job title or position. Consistently ensuring that your loved one who is living with dementia feels valued and maintains as much independence as possible is key in providing excellent care. Supporting the person who is living with dementia through providing a social, homely environment, with plenty of activities in line with the social model of dementia, is paramount in maintaining their independence and dignity.

How B&M Implements Person-Centred Care

At B&M, person-centred care is a major influence over everything that we do. We focus on celebrating the lives of each individual resident and helping them to maintain as much independence as possible. We have built our Rose Model of Dementia Care around this ethos, and we institute training based on the key principles of the social model of dementia, to every carer and all team members in our homes. The six key principles that build this foundation are individuality, empowering, engagement, flourishing, compassion, and wellbeing. We ensure that each of these principles are what drive our quality residential care, including how our carers interact with, and care for, every resident in our 26 homes.

Find Out More

For more information about our person-centred approach and how we implement the social model of dementia in our homes, please contact us. You can also attend one of our regular Living Well With Dementia events.