By Jane Verity ©dementiacareinternational.com
To remember someone’s name and be able to address a person by their name is vitally important in many cultures. Once you know a person’s name, it is easy to go up to that person and initiate a conversation.
Many facilities do not endorse the use of name badges because of the belief that in a person’s own home, name badges would not be worn. The reality is that in a facility, many strange and unfamiliar faces surround a person with dementia.
One of the key challenges for people with dementia is their short-term memory. They may withdraw from social contact and interaction through the fear of not remembering people’s names.
Think of name badges as, ‘Connection Badges’ and use this description when documenting them in care plans. Using Connection Badges as memory aids provides opportunities to socialise and spontaneously interact with others. Connection Badges not only help the person with dementia but enable everyone to address each other by their preferred name.
Use a clear plastic convention cardholder with a clip. If the cardholder is fitted with a safety pin, simply remove this to avoid injury. Round any sharp, pointy corners to prevent anyone from being hurt or scratched.
Use a computer to write the names and follow this well-researched Spark of Life Writing Formula for Connection Badges:
- Times New Roman
- Black print on white background
- Size 60, bold and expanded 1 point
- Upper and lower case (never all capitals)
You may decorate the badges with one small heart but avoid any other decorations as they may distract the focus from the person’s name. Remember to check what name the person prefers to use. No matter what is written in their files always show the courtesy of asking. Ask this exact question, ‘What do you prefer to be called?’ You will be amazed how often the person will give a different name to the one officially used.
During a Spark of Life Club Program meeting, a woman normally known as Ida was asked what she would prefer to be called. She answered loud and clear, ‘Lady Earls!’ so that became her name on her Connection Badge. The other club member’s only knew Ida as Lady Earls and therefore addressed her in this manner. Every time Ida was called Lady Earls, her confidence grew and by the end of every meeting, she would leave the room brimming with confidence. This one small adjustment to meet her emotional needs brought back a sparkle in her eyes and her spirit soared. When Ida’s unusual name choice was shared with her family, they understood the positive effect this had and began to address their mother as Lady Earls!
To purchase a Spark of Life Connection Badge, visit www.dementiafoundation.org.au
All money goes to the Dementia Foundation for Spark of Life