Thursday, 15 March 2012

Re-Defining Responsive Behaviours

Here at MAREP, our learnings surrounding dementia research and care continue to evolve. We recently posted a revised definition of Responsive Behaviours on our website.

This re-definition of Responsive Behaviours (RB) was created in response to the need for a clearer, more easily applied conceptualization of RB that encourages compassion and understanding in all care contexts.

Want to share this definition with others? Use this downloadable PDF version.

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Responsive Behaviour


Definition and Philosophy:

Responsive Behaviours (RB) is a term originating from, and preferred by, persons with dementia that represents how their actions, words and gestures are a response, often intentional, to something important to them. Persons may use words, gestures, or actions to express something important about their personal, social, or physical environment. Responsive Behaviours adhere to the following principles:

1. All personal expressions (words, gestures, actions) have meaning.

2. Personal expressions are an important means of communicating meanings, needs, concerns.

3. Care partners require a multidimensional lens that seeks understanding of others’ expressions.

A Responsive Behaviours Philosophy requires:
  • a focus on understanding the meaning of personal expressions (words, gestures, actions)
  • understanding the layered nature of personal expressions – including at the individual/personal level (subjective experience of the physical body, cognition, emotional experiences, spirituality, and cultural beliefs), the experience of the social environmental (the nature of caring and interpersonal relationships and broader cultural issues such as organisational policies and practices), and the experience of the broader physical environment (built environment, temperature, lighting)
  • developing skills in active listening, being truly present, and using alternative ways to communicate
  • being open, non-judgemental, and compassionate

Rather than the current focus on pathology/disease as the root cause of all actions, words or gestures, a multi-dimensional lens/approach assists partners in care in developing a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the person with dementia and his/her subjective experiences, the meanings of personal expressions (i.e., what the personal expressions are communicating), and how best to offer compassionate support (caring styles and approaches).

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