The introduction of a person-centred care (PCC) approach to dementia care has been a major paradigmatic shift in the care provision in residential settings for older adults in Ireland. However, policy implementation in nursing homes relies very much on the preparedness of nursing staff. This study explored this through semi-structured interviews with care assistants in two nursing homes which professed to support the PCC philosophy. We addressed their knowledge and perspectives of person-centred dementia care and views on various factors affecting its delivery. Findings showed considerable disparity between policy and practice, in particular because care assistants lacked clarity on what PCC is and reported that they were not educated in it. Notwithstanding this, carers' perspectives on 'good care' for people with dementia included elements of PCC which suggested its 'implicit' use in practice. Besides the necessity of more (and more explicit) training on PCC, the findings also suggest concerns around communication between staff and management and the need for improvement of staffing resources and available time in residential settings in order to make the delivery of person-centred dementia care a reality.
Keywords: care assistant; dementia care; nursing home; person-centred care.
© The Author(s) 2014.