Rethinking Dementia Care by banning BPSD

Image source: Kate Swaffer 2018

Two years ago I published a series of blogs focused on the need to rethink dementia care, to reframe dementia entirely, on dementia as a major cause of disability, but most especially on the need to ban BPSD (Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia).

The Coronavirus pandemic has almost proven BPSD is a false construct, and that people with dementia have been held to a much higher account than anyone else for what are mostly normal human respsonses. Read about BPSC-19 here, if you are unsure what I am talkign about.

Anyway, I have a lot of new readers here now, so thought I would share a few blogs on these topics during Dementia Awareness Month 2020.

The following was first published on August 13, 2018:

Our first published Letter to the Editor, promoting the continuation of the campaign to ban the false construct known as BPSD (Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia). A few years ago, Professor Dawn Brooker started a group called “GAP in Dementia Care”, which consisted of a large group of academics, dementia professionals and included people with dementia who have the lived experience. Many from this last group of members (people with dementia) also have extensive knowledge about dementia, well beyond our experiences of being diagnosed, but have the added ‘benefit’ of knowing what it is really like to live with dementia from the inside out.

As a past nurse who has worked in aged and dementia care, and someone who has been a family care partner to people who have died from dementia, I thought I knew a lot… How wrong was I!

But I digress… I wanted to explain that three members from the original GAP in Dementia Care group (myself, Daniella Greenwood and Al Power) had often brought up the idea that BPSD is doing more harm than good, and is a false construct.

There was a LOT of pushback against this back then, and eventually, the discussion died. The GAP in Dementia Care group has been very silent since the late Peter Ashleigh’s death, as he was one of the key drivers behind the IT and website, but a few of us have re-engaged in trying to make positive change for people with dementia, starting with a campaign to ban BPSD. You can see who we are, listed in the Letter to the Editor below recently published in the Australian Journal of Dementia Care.

4 thoughts on “Rethinking Dementia Care by banning BPSD

  1. Thank you again Kate for continuing to bring this to the fore. We all respond to the environment and people around us and this is even more evident and challenging when feeling unwell, anxiety, depressed and a myriad of other emotions. To also be living with dementia would at times be overwhelming and confusing when others around are not ‘in tune’ with individuals personal reactions and responses. Care, empathy and compassion and the ability to ‘read’ others is paramount.


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