Person-Centeredness, Culture and Communication in Dementia Care: An International Investigation of the Views of Medical Students
Ellen St. Clair Tullo
Richard Philip Lee
The idea that person-centered communication (PCC) can be a centrally important contributor to improving care practices has become highly influential over recent years, particularly in the care of older people, and particularly in the ‘west’ (Care Quality Commission, 2012; Department of Health, 2011; Edvardsson and Innes, 2010). PCC is, however, vaguely conceptualized, and has been variously realized in care models (Brooker, 2006). There has been very little investigation of the effects of the application of purportedly person-centered communicative approaches to care, and the notion itself has been critiqued on the grounds of its possible cultural inappropriateness and ethnocentricity due to its supposed over-emphasis on support for the agency of the individual, essentialized self (Young and Manthorp, 2009). This paper explores the notion of PCC in the care of people living with dementia (PLWD). A particular focus will be on its transcultural and international applicability outside of its current core in North America, Australasia and North and Western Europe. It draws on recent and ongoing research into the codification and application of person-centered communicative approaches to the care of PLWD in the UK and in Malaysia involving a wide spectrum of stakeholder groups, including medical and social care professionals, medical students, institutional carers, family members and, crucially, PLWD themselves (Young et all, 2011; Tullo and Young, 2013). It concludes by presenting a model of a translatable, locally-adaptable, transculturally-applicable, person-centred approach to communication with PLWD grounded in recent theory related to the social psychology of communication and intercultural communication, which takes full account of the beliefs, attitudes and knowledge of these international stakeholders.