Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always. Hippocrates

It’s an interesting concept to consider distress and comfort as something we may be able to measure to produce specific interventions and better care outcomes for those we care for. It is difficult to believe there is a major philosophical difference between physical or mental pain. Both cause suffering and should be recognised and where possible be alleviated. Could distress be considered to be a more important concept for the individual resident than a pattern of challenging behaviours as these automatically focuses more on the outcome than the resident, and recognising it and alleviating it may improve quality of life?

I have been considering this recently as it is important to recognise that it is not always people with florid behaviours who are distressed. Distress can have many faces it can be the person who is quietly suffering, missed in the hub bub of the normal busy environment of care delivery. Conversely another person who is loud and exhibiting behaviours that are challenging to those around them may not be overtly distressed.

We need as care givers to extend our boundaries of understanding to recognise what is a need by understanding that one person’s distress or comfort is very different from another’s as is everything in life so much is down to the individual’s perceptions of these parameters.

Understanding verbal and visual signs especially as some of these expressions are subtle, fleeting and fragile is challenging for care givers but sometimes gives an insight into the individual persons needs.

For many residents care that affirms the individual that brings comfort warmth and dignity may alleviate distress by centring on the individual person.

Apologies if this blog may bring more questions to mind than answers but if all it does is make us all consider a different way of viewing a reoccurring issue it will have been time well spent.


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