Dementia Training: Tom Kitwood's Flower of Emotional Needs

Thomas Kitwood, born in Lincolnshire was a pioneer in the field of dementia care. He completed an MSc in the Psychology and Sociology of Education at Bradford in 1974. Since then, he developed innovative research and training that was challenging the culture of care at the time. Thomas wanted to understand, as much as possible, what care is like for the person with dementia.

His major innovation to achieve this goal was Dementia Care Mapping, a method for observational evaluation of the quality of care that is provided in formal settings, such as care homes, or home care providers.

Tom identified a number of fundamental psychological and social human needs. These human needs have to be met, in order to maintain a good sense of well-being. Person-centred care was initially developed by Tom Kitwood who, in 1992 founded the Bradford Dementia Group, University of Bradford. He firmly beleived that viewing people with dementia in purely medical terms, leads them to be seen as objects and as having no subjectivity or personhood. His specific ideas relating to person-centred care and developed positive approaches to people with dementia which are discussed in his book 'Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First (Rethinking Ageing)'

Tom Kitwood's model, shows that when caring for, and supporting people with dementia, we must remember six psychological needs: love, comfort, identity, occupation, inclusion, and attachment.

Everyone has these needs but when we care for someone who is living with dementia, we need to ensure that we take the time to fulfill these needs and be very mindful of them. Let us look at what these needs represent to us, while reading, think how these apply when you are caring for someone with dementia.

Love

Everybody needs to be loved and to love someone; being loved and accepted is part of our need for survival, from when we are born. Love can range, from loving a person, an activity, a favourite meal/food, to loving God and feeling self-love.

Comfort

Feeling comfort is our to be warm, dry and clean, having a full stomach and not feeling thirsty. Comfort also might mean to have quiet when we want or need it, to be free of pain, to have the freedom to move, and to have a sense closeness, being able to bond with others.

Identity

We all have the need for personal identity; from the clothes we choose to wear, the food we prefer, and the way we like our hair. These are all idenfying factors that help us and others identify with who we are.

Occupation

Most of us want to be occupied with something to feel like we have worth and purpose in life. From being involved in daily activities, to engaging in a planned activities programme it's important that the person is able to occupy themselves with meaningful things.

Inclusion

Inclusion means that we want to be a part of something. If we feel left out then it makes us feel bad. People living with dementia may lose track of conversation easily, being mindful of their feelings of inclusion is important.

Attachment

Our connections in life are also crucial to our feelings of well being. Everyone wants to feel connected to something, or someone; often a combination of both. We also have a need to form wider attachments in our community, or in groups.