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I have to treat patients like objects: the harsh reality of working in dementia care

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As workers in dementia care, we are carrying out some of the most hidden, difficult and under-recognised work in this country. The aged care royal commission must examine how the current system is impacting those of us working in acute dementia care, and talk about the heartbreaking effects of funding cuts to dementia patients and the constant stream of challenges we face.

The difficulties begin once we walk through that door to start our shift. I arrive at 7am to face the first challenge, the “activities of daily living”. Personal care is so necessary for the dignity of residents. Acute dementia patients regularly refuse personal care but with time for care being allotted to the minute, we simply don’t have the time to wait with them to help them settle. Dementia residents don’t just refuse care by telling the carer, they will kick, punch, bite and sometimes spit at us to show their refusal.

Alongside me are three other carers for the morning shift to care for 20 acute dementia patients. We wake residents, shower them, dress them, groom them – all in 10 to 15 minutes each. Some of the residents are still half asleep, and unfortunately there just isn’t the time to communicate and help them adjust to the new day and guide them into their routine. Because we are so short-staffed, we constantly have to rush patients with a condition that means they don’t cope with being rushed. The strict timetable we work to........

© The Guardian