Re-empowering people with dementia

Prescription%20PadsI’ve been subscribing to the magazine Management Today for a few months now, and find many of the ideas in their articles could easily be adapted to re-empower people with dementia back to more productive and positive lives. Of course, they apply brilliantly to business, and life in general, but I have found since being diagnosed with dementia that many people have been dis-empowered, quite possibly by the prescribed dis-engagement, and allow their carers to speak for them.

I’m convinced the prescribed disengagement dished out to us following diagnosis is a significant part of the reason for this dis-empowerment, rather than the symptoms of dementia. At a meeting in Canberra a few weeks ago, the other people with dementia who attended spoke very well for themselves during the breaks, but their partners spoke for them during the meeting sessions.

I felt quite frustrated by this, as did one of the other carers whose partner has died, and we discussed it at length. I have since been thinking about constructive ways to overcome this, and thought the ideas in the article discussed below are appropriate. Developing leadership as a way of re-empowering people with dementia is probably not on the radar of service providers or family carers yet, but I’m going to try it soon, so I will let you know.

Sandra Bannister, Director of The Leadership Circle Asia Pacific believes that modern organisations are now seeking ways to create a culture of leadership where leaders are developed. Her recent article in Management Today, ‘How to Develop a Strong Leadership Culture’  highlights the different ways businesses can empower their people to become future leaders. Leadership is a quality most people have excelled at some stage in their life, and so, people with dementia have great potential to re-develop their leadership skills.

 “What is now increasingly sought after in modern organisations is the creation of a culture of leadership where leaders are developed, valued and supported at all levels,” she says.

 “Empowering people to become leaders benefits your business in a number of ways; it drives commitment, engagement and accountability at all levels and produces the future top leaders of your business.”

Sandra Bannister’s top tips for developing a strong leadership culture include;

  • Let leadership be a mantra
  • Encourage learning and development
  • Recognise potential across the board
  • Share responsibility and authority
  • Trust opinions and decisions
  • Become a mentor and sponsor for staff

Promoting and developing leadership in the new group, Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Advisory Group will need to be a key component of the way it develops. One of the main features of the Scottish Dementia Working Group is that every member is part of the leadership group, as they adapt to each role when, for example, the current Chair is unwell and unable to lead the group, someone else steps in. Egos are not part of the equation, but the development of leadership, learning, potential and development are strong. Trusting each other and mentoring is also a large part of this group, and their working group model perfectly supports Sandra’s top tips. Leadership might just be the top tip for re-empowering people with dementia, and if they have swallowed the prescribed disengagement pill, to re-engage with their pre-diagnosis lives again.

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