The Flower of Emotional Needs

The Dementia Friends badge and logo is a forget me not. What is it’s significance?


Tom Kitwood (1937-1998) identified a number of fundamental psychological and social human needs. These human needs have to be met for us all, in order to maintain a good sense of well-being. He developed the idea of person-centred care.

Kitwood’s model, shows that when caring for, and supporting people with dementia, we must remember six psychological needs: love, comfort, identity, occupation, inclusion, and attachment.

Everyone has these needs and when we care for someone who is living with dementia, we need to ensure that we take the time to fulfill these needs and be very mindful of them.


Everybody needs to be loved and to love someone; being loved and accepted is part of our need for survival, from when we are born. Love can range, from loving a person, an activity, a favourite meal/food, to loving God and feeling self-love.


Feeling comfort is our need to be warm, dry and clean, having a full stomach and not feeling thirsty. Comfort also might mean to have quiet when we want or need it, to be free of pain, to have the freedom to move, and to have a sense of closeness, being able to bond with others.


We all have the need for personal identity; from the clothes we choose to wear, the food we prefer, and the way we like our hair. These are all identifying factors that help us and others identify with who we are.


Most of us want to be occupied with something to feel like we have worth and purpose in life. From being involved in daily activities, to engaging in a planned activities programme it’s important that the person is able to occupy themselves with meaningful things.


Inclusion means that we want to be a part of something. If we feel left out then it makes us feel bad. People living with dementia may lose track of conversation easily, being mindful of their feelings of inclusion is important.


Our connections in life are also crucial to our feelings of well being. Everyone wants to feel connected to something, or someone; often a combination of both. We also have a need to form wider attachments in our community, or in groups.


Thomas Kitwood, born in Lincolnshire was a pioneer in the field of dementia care. He completed an MSc in the Psychology and Sociology of Education at Bradford in 1974. Since then, he developed innovative research and training that was challenging the culture of care at the time. Kitwood wanted to understand, as much as possible, what care is like for the person with dementia. His major innovation to achieve this goal was Dementia Care Mapping, a method for observational evaluation of the quality of care that is provided in formal settings, such as care homes, or home care providers.

Kitwood founded the Bradford Dementia Group, University of Bradford, in 1992. He firmly believed that viewing people with dementia in purely medical terms, leads them to be seen as objects and as having no subjectivity or personhood. His specific ideas relating to person-centred care developed positive approaches to people with dementia which are discussed in his book Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First


Article adapted from Tracy Steel 9/2/16 here


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