Person-centred care, or PCC, is a catchphrase familiar to the healthcare industry. It is also an adage the Singapore Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) uses as the basis of their advocacy work on behalf of people living with dementia.
The ADA explains that PCC captures a way of thinking and doing things that respects the person living with dementia as an individual with a unique personality despite the onslaught of the disease. Thus, PCC-influenced respect begins with listening to the person living with dementia as the first step to treating the disease.1
The PCC philosophy has also become a catalyst in an ongoing conversation between the health authorities and a few local foundations seeking to pioneer a nursing home for people living with dementia.2 The pioneering model, mooted in late 2015, provides an option for single- and twin-bedded rooms with ensuite toilets. This is a radical departure from the common standard that offers cluster settings of six to eight beds with shared toilet facilities.
There are two different perspectives in this discussion. One questions the viability of funding single-room settings (which appears luxurious in a nursing home context) while the other affirms customising the physical environment to meet the individual’s needs as an effective medical treatment for dementia.
While the numbers (in terms of statistics and finances) relating to dementia care in Singapore are grim, the mission of the Church compels it to reflect on how it will weigh the use of money against the needs of the person. Crafting PCC in Christian terms may be one place to start.
The Christian viewpoint is that every individual is unique because God created humans in His own image. This not only endows inherent value on every person; it also proffers an intimate personal relationship as described in Revelation 3:20-21 of Jesus seeking to relate to the individual.
It follows that PCC in Christian terms should build on the central Christian tenet of the God-given inherent worth of human persons, demonstrated by the sensitive and loving ways in which Jesus related to people.
Jesus made time to reach out to social outcasts, such as Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) or the Samaritan woman by the well (John 4:1-42). Jesus focused on the value of the individual in His parables of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7), the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), and in His extreme sensitivity to the woman who touched His garment for healing (Luke 8:43-48).
Additionally, there are numerous examples of Jesus’ followers whose ministries spoke of the dignity of the human person and loved those difficult to love. A well-known example is Mother Theresa, who gave refuge to the dying destitute persons on the streets of Calcutta.
PCC through the lens of the Christian faith thus shifts the central focus from management of the disease to the inherent and individual value of the person, offering wisdom in the discussion on alleviating human suffering. More than that, a movement of Jesus’ followers who demonstrate a commitment to person-centred care in the face of human suffering bears witness to His good news.
1 Alzheimer’s Disease Association. Celebrating life, ageing and love: 25 years of dedicated service. Singapore: Alzheimer’s Disease Association, 2015. Pp 20-1.
2 This conversation may be tracked in The Straits Times
- 21 Dec 2015: ‘Plans for $15 million nursing home with different care model shelved’
- 5 Jan 2016: ‘Would you want to grow old in today’s nursing homes?’
- 7 Jan 2016, Forum page: ‘Boost dementia-friendly landscape in nursing homes’
- 15 Jan 2016: ‘Integrated approach to ageing in place’
- 21 Jan 2016: ‘Global movement to help sufferers’ and ‘Help for dementia patients in Yishun’
- 24 Jan 2016: ‘Eldercare agencies in talks to set up national dementia registry’ and ‘Dutch-style care facilities offer independent living’
Picture by szefei/Bigstock.com
Kimhong Hazra –
worships at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church with her husband, Ajit. She teaches and researches Mission Studies in the midst of her primary responsibility to a parent living with dementia.