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Keywords:

  • dementia;
  • health services;
  • organisational culture;
  • person-centred care;
  • respite care;
  • social services

Abstract

Ensuring the development and delivery of person-centred care in services providing respite care and short breaks for people with dementia and their carers has a number of challenges for health and social service providers. This article explores the role of organisational culture in barriers and facilitators to person-centred dementia care. As part of a mixed-methods study of respite care and short breaks for people with dementia and their carers, 49 telephone semi-structured interviews, two focus groups (N = 16) and five face-to-face in-depth interviews involving front-line staff and operational and strategic managers were completed in 2006–2007. Qualitative thematic analysis of transcripts identified five themes on aspects of organisational culture that are perceived to influence person-centred care: understandings of person-centred care, attitudes to service development, service priorities, valuing staff and solution-focused approaches. Views of person-centred care expressed by participants, although generally positive, highlight a range of understandings about person-centred care. Some organisations describe their service as being person-centred without the necessary cultural shift to make this a reality. Participants highlighted resource constraints and the knowledge, attitudes and personal qualities of staff as a barrier to implementing person-centred care. Leadership style, the way that managers’ support and value staff and the management of risk were considered important influences. Person-centred dementia care is strongly advocated by professional opinion leaders and is prescribed in policy documents. This analysis suggests that person-centred dementia care is not strongly embedded in the organisational cultures of all local providers of respite-care and short-break services. Provider organisations should be encouraged further to develop a shared culture at all levels of the organisation to ensure person-centred dementia care.