Tom Kitwood is a key figure in the development of thought about dementia, but generally no references are made to his work outside of elderly care. This article argues that Kitwood’s thought has much to offer to all the professional caregivers, regardless of the users’ category they are caring for, and to the broader field of professional social work. Some key themes from the writings of Kitwood are examined, namely the critique of the ‘standard paradigm’; the conception of malignant social psychology; the respect for otherness in the positive person work; the person with dementia as a resource for reciprocity processes; the new culture of dementia. For each of these issues similarities between Kitwood’s approach and relational social work are identified. Relational social work considers the helping process and the well-being development as coconstructions, in which the contributions not only by the helper (or the caregiver, or the social worker), but also by the helpee (or by the care recipient, or by the user) are essential: both at the same time are helped and helpers, and both are empowered by this. This idea—of great value to all social work fields—is remarkably close to the Kitwood’s thought about the dementia care.
- Relational social work