High Quality Dementia Care
By Diane Lightfoot, Director of Communications, United Response
Back in March 2012, the ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia’ white paper was launched which included a list of 14 commitments, covering: Improvements in Health and Care; Creating Dementia Friendly Communities that Understand How to Help; and Better Research.
Commitment 4 in this white paper refers to “A Dementia Care and Support Compact signed by leading care home and home care providers”.It further goes on to explain in detail that ten top organisations have signed up to deliver high-quality relationship-based care and to provide support to people with dementia. Furthermore, they have also signed up to actively engage and to involve the wider community in this work.
The white paper illustrates the culmination of better insights into the scope and extent of the major effects of dementia in the UK. These figures which have been extracted from the Alzheimer’s Society website help to underline some of the key points:
- 800,000 people living in the UK have dementia. Within 10 years this will increase to 1 million and by 2051 the figure will be 1.7 million
- Presently only 41% of people with dementia receive a diagnosis
- The propensity to have dementia rises with age, from 1 in 1,400 (40-64years) to 1 in 6 (80+ years)
- Family carers subsidize 34.8% of the £23billion cost of dementia to the UK. This equates to a staggering £8billion.
Nevertheless, statistics only form part of the story. Indeed, the most important message that was taken from this year’s Dementia Awareness Week, which ran from 20-26 May, was to remember that there’s a lot more to a person than the dementia. The emphasis should be on the person, not the dementia.
This approach goes hand in hand with United Response’s person-centered approach to supporting people with dementia. Indeed, this approach is at the focal point of everything that we have done over the past 39 years.
The Prime Minister’s white paper highlights the need for a similar, personalised approach to dementia support. It explains in great detail about ‘relationship based care and support’. The most important question that needs to be addressed is; how will this work within the NHS?
Searching online under ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ revealed a web chat which was run by two clinical nurse specialists, who both work at a Midlands NHS Trust, with 50 years’ experience of dementia and caring for older people.
The web chat helped to illustrate the fact that their dementia training is split up into a mixture of both mandatory sessions for new members of staff and monthly voluntary sessions. Actually, the majority of NHS hospitals are beginning to understand that there are major benefits to be gained from giving person-centred dementia care training to their staff.
At this Midlands Trust they had been providing this form of training for over ten years. The techniques and tools taught in such training turned out to be both ingenuous and creative.
The Trust in question implemented a ‘Getting to Know Me’ form for dementia patients. This is a reworked version of a form initially put together by the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University. The form is filled in by the patients family or carer and it incorporates both the patient’s previous life and experiences. By making use of this personal insight, staff can strive to meet the needs of the person they support.
The Trust also has activity coordinators in place whose main role is to help calm people prone to agitation. They encourage ‘purposeful activities’ for those who need to be stimulated whilst in a hospital environment.
Essentially, this particular Trust has also formed excellent working relationships with external organisations. For example, they have worked very closely with the Alzheimer’s Society on a number of projects such as Memory Lane and the Forget-Me-Not Lounge.
Most of the techniques, tools, projects and campaigns specified in the web chat revealed a common trend. It was all about staff choosing to adopt a patient (or person)-centred approach.
At United Response, we believe that a person-centred approach is essential in helping to provide effective dementia support. Furthermore, we have looked to develop expertise in this type of support for as long as we have existed as an organisation, as demonstrated by our Best Practice Guide. For more information about the dementia support available please visit: http://www.unitedresponse.org.uk/what-we-do/dementia/
We are extremely pleased to have put that approach into place which shows that we have full confidence in it. Our belief in the approach has been taken onboard by the Government, leading charities and the NHS, as they look to the future of dementia support.