Think Twice if You’re Dealing with Tricky Customers This International Day for Tolerance (Thurs 16 Nov)

South West care charity Milestones Trust offers tips for talking to people with dementia

A South West care home charity is calling on people to think twice when dealing with ‘difficult’ members of the public to mark International Day for Tolerance this Thursday 16 November.

Challenging behaviour is a common symptom of dementia, and experts at Milestones Trust say often members of the public are too quick to jump to conclusions.

Staff at the trust, which runs Abbey House care home in North Swindon, are asking people to think twice if they’re confronted by a ‘tricky customer’ at work or if a member of the public appears difficult – because the person may be living with dementia.

A natural response in these challenging situations is to become defensive or to close down the conversation. However, experts at Milestones Trust suggest that taking a little more time to explore a person’s circumstances or frustrations will help you to support them.

The charity is offering the following tips, known as ‘the 4 Ss’, for dealing with challenging behaviour:

  • STOP: take a moment to consider the person’s specific situation and concerns
  • SLOW: acknowledge how they are feeling and speak slowly to reassure them you are trying to understand and to help
  • SIMPLIFY: keep advice simple and minimise questions – particularly those that require a decision or choice
  • SHOW: demonstrate the options available or the way to do something if the person is at first reluctant

Kinga Dabrowska, customer relations co-ordinator for Milestones Trust and dementia lead at Abbey House, a residential care home with a focus on dementia care, says:

“It’s a perfectly understandable, natural reaction to want to end a difficult conversation or get rid of a tricky customer, but to mark International Day for Tolerance we are asking people to think twice.

“This week, if a stranger is grumpy or argumentative, or behaves in a way that you find odd – take a moment to consider why. There might be a reason for their behaviour – they may have dementia, and be experiencing confusion or feeling anxious.

“The 4 Ss is a simple way to remember simple advice for dealing with these situations so that you can support people better and avoid unnecessary confrontation.


“Stop what you are doing so that you can focus on the person and take a moment to consider their concerns; Slow down your speech and acknowledge how they are feeling; Simplify the advice you give and as much as possible, Show them what you are suggesting.


“Following this advice will not only help the person you are dealing with, but will hopefully turn a potentially negative and upsetting experience for you – into a positive and rewarding one.”










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