The Bus Stop Band-aid (Public article)

Public article

Members please log in and click this link The Bus Stop Band-aid for your extended version of this article.

By Jane Verity  ©

The Challenge

What do you do when a person with dementia continuously asks to go home? Or when people with dementia beg you to let them out because their children are crying? This behaviour can be intense and may be very frustrating for staff, residents, visitors and volunteers.

The Answer

A popular answer seems to be… install a bus stop! The person wanting to go home can then go and sit at the bus stop and wait for a bus that never comes. A staff member may creatively say, ‘The bus isn’t coming today. It only comes every second day.’ Or even, ‘The bus has broken down and isn’t coming.’

Our first reaction to this solution may be that it is a simple and innovative idea.

Undoubtedly, the bus stop solution was created with the best of intentions in mind; namely to ease distress and keep the person with dementia happy. However, it is only a band-aid and we can make a bus stop unnecessary by addressing the cause of the behaviour.

A Band-aid Solution

The bus stop band-aid solution does not address the underlying cause of a person with dementia wanting to go home.

To experience what the person means by the words, ‘I want to go home,’  we need to ask ourselves, ‘What does home represent?’

Our answers are most likely to be emotional representations of home and this is also true for people with dementia. It is unlikely that they are actually thinking of the physical home that they are either living in right now or have left in order to move to a residential care facility. Some people with strong religious connections may think of home as going home to God. Others may be searching for emotional fulfillment of unmet needs.
Further Reading 

  • The Bus Stop Band-aid – Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Read the full article to discover the emotions & reasons behind the words, ‘I want to go home’; learn positive ways to fulfill unmet needs & proven strategies to remove the necessity for band-aid solutions.)
  • How to Communicate with Someone who Can’t Speak – Public/Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Learn 4 body language techniques to show people with dementia that you are really listening; learn the importance & the difference between intuition & rational thinking; learn strategies & effective questions to uncover unmet needs & draw out the person’s feelings and needs; learn question techniques to check on your guesses & 6 steps to being a good communicator.)
  • My Neighbour is Trying to Kill Me! – Members article – Revealing the deep symbolism behind this once “seemingly” delusional accusation.
  • Hugs not Drugs – Members article – Jane Verity (Discover 3 factors behind attention-seeking behaviour, the 5 secrets to great hugs & 5 hints to check if a hug is creating discomfort in another person plus a wonderful non-threatening excuse for exchanging a big hug.)
  • A Doorway to the Present – Members article – by E. Joy Bowles BSc. (Learn how brain cells respond to incoming messages about odours & how we can use them to redirect or distract agitation; plus learn how odours can be used to encourage people with dementia back to the present.)