What is emotional intelligence?
the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
In Basic Terms – emotional intelligence is ‘being smarter with feelings’.
I believe this is the special ability of champions of dementia care to be able to determine other people’s feelings (and their own), and use that information to guide that person’s thinking and behaviour, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments to reach a positive outcome for the person.
“People with dementia can no longer rely on facts, logic, reason or memory. It is your feelings and emotional truth that you trust. Emotional intelligence is seen as the primary competency in providing emotional care. Feeling you matter is at the core of being a person. Knowing you matter is at the heart of being alive.” (D.Sheard 2015)
I learnt about this concept from Dr David Sheard from Dementia Care Matters in the UK. A year or so ago he wrote the following inspirational passage for me, and at the time I was not 100% sure what he really meant. I now understand what he was trying to tell me and realize the value in his words of wisdom which have now become my mantra:
“Advancing great quality dementia care requires major culture change. A culture change movement needs people who totally grasp the scale of the challenge ahead. Individuals committed to this need to come from a place of heartfelt passion, emotional intelligence and with a dogged determination. Promoting a new culture of dementia care is not for the faint hearted and requires the rare ability to reach a wide healthcare audience inspiring them to believe it could be different.”