In residential aged care, how many times have you heard the howls of frustrations as management and staff, shake their fist in the air, bicker and scratch their heads to work out how to improve dementia care at the same time balance the books. It’s a constant frustration, not just for the staff but for the residents with dementia and caregivers as well as they continue to pay for care and feel that they are unheard, unseen and their needs have gone unnoticed.
Good news, the latest study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference from the University of Exeter and carried out in collaboration with University College London, Hull, Bangor and Alzheimer’s Society UK. The study evidently highlighted the fact that activities carried out in line with the philosophy of Person-Centred Care, coupled with a week of social activities resulted in a reduced in responsive behaviours in dementia and improve the quality of life for residents with dementia in a residential care home.
The large scale study funded by the National Institute for Health Research was carried out in 69 residential care homes in the United Kingdom and consisted of 800 residents with dementia. Each of the 69 residential care home had two staff attend a four-day session, training them to socially engage with residents with dementia and finding out what residents would like in the areas of their care needs. When executed, this person-centred care approach coupled with an hour of social engagement found that not only was there a reported in the increase in quality of life but a reduction in responsive behaviours of dementia resulting in cost savings in dementia care to the organisation compared to care without such interventions.
“Taking a person-centred approach is about really getting to know the resident as an individual – knowing their interests and talking with them while you provide all aspects of care. It can make a massive difference to the person themselves and their carers. We’ve shown that this approach significantly improves lives, reduces agitation and actually saves money too. This training must now be rolled out nationwide so other people can benefit.”
-Dr Jane Fossey ( Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust)
With the success of this study, the researchers are potentially aiming to have this intervention carried out in 28,000 residential care homes in the country, potentially positively impacting up to 300,000 residents with dementia.
Why we need to open our hearts & listen to the people we care for
I wanted to share this beautiful video of Raelene and Soo Ren, who opened their hearts poured out their life story in this short 11-minute film. Raelene touches on the challenges in their life of being an inter-racial couple in the UK, their life settling down in Singapore in a house with 30 members of the family and later as a caregiver for her husband who is living with cognitive impairment. No matter the challenges both Raelene and Soo Ren continue to move forward in life, sharing every day together.
I also apologise for not blogging as much and not having any new articles of late. I’m currently 29 weeks pregnant and soon to start a new chapter our lives with a baby boy. In a way, Raelene and Soo Ren’s story strikes a deep chord in my heart because much like them, me and my husband are an interracial couple as well, with me being an Asian and my Husband being a Caucasian. We do face similar stigmas but possibly not those as aggressive as what Raelene and Soo Ren had experienced in the 60s and 70s. I do ponder the needs and the types of assistance that an interracial couple may require in the areas of dementia care, be it bilingual literature on dementia, or even training especially for expatriates and immigrants, hearing their stories. Most of us will become aware of the cultural differences that both will have to overcome to be together and as cognitive impairment and dementia sets in, can we say that we can we deliver care services that can meet the needs of interracial couples? Is there more that we can do?
On top of the discussions on inter-racial couples, it is also important to recognise that everyone, everyone that you see has a story. As a nurse and a personal care assistant, I have heard of stories of women who worked in the times of war in the UK, wearing their hair in “victory rolls” and working on machines, the life of a submariner and the experiences of a WW2 Vet. There was a lady who took 7 months to sail from Australia to the UK, which to me was an incredible feat in itself. A man who knew more about the history of Singapore than I did, having visited Singapore in the 70s and 80s. A lady who thought me that when it comes to fashion quality far surpasses quantity, pulling out a teal dress she bought 20 years ago for a wedding that continued to look stunning on her at 80. A teacher who taught me all about baking and I’ll never forget five women who agreed in unison that a home cooked meal was the heart and gut of marriage. They opened their heart, they brought me smiles and laughter, sharing with me their adventures, their lives and their memories. I’m here to provide care, and yet it feels like they are providing me with the knowledge and care that I need to mature and grow, learning from their experiences and their stories, nourishing my mind and my soul, an experience that no money can ever buy.
A short clip from Channel News Asia Insider that touches on caring for a person with dementia. The clip talks about how to encourage a person with dementia
- to take a shower
- to reduce frequent intake of food
- how to communicate when caregivers are accused of stealing
A short and useful clip for caregivers.
Oxford Brookes University has devised a training programme to help staff working with people with dementia to come close to understanding the experience of living with dementia. This programme is carried out by a facilitator and participants have to wear a stimulation suit as part of the process. This aids the experiential learning process and creates some awareness of the needs of the individual with dementia.
The programme has proved to be successful and has helped care workers to better understand the experience of living with dementia; and in turn influence and improve the quality of care that they provide to the people they care for.
You can read more about the programme here here http://www.chc.brookes.ac.uk/training/dementia-simulation
A beautiful and empowering video on understanding mindfulness and how it can help us. The video allows everyone from young and old to have a glimpse into what Mindfulness can do for you and how it can empower you to be a better person and live a better life no matter the age.
A video by National Geographic on animal therapy & Llamas in residential aged care:D
At this nursing home, animals—including llamas—are sometimes able to bring the residents out of their shells in ways that previously seemed impossible.
It’s not uncommon to see people trying to correct a person with dementia. It is a difficult task to accept that a person with dementia has difficulty with memory, and this is a common occurrence with not just caregivers, but the clinical staff, and professional carers as well.
We know that dementia results in memory loss, and yet we constantly find ourselves getting annoyed, upset and stressed out when the person with dementia does something we think is wrong by us. We are thrown stacks of fact sheets and brochures, clinical advice from staff and info graphs. We know we have to resist, and yet we give in all the time, walking away, hands in the air and shaking our heads. Stressing the person with dementia and ourselves. It’s hard to kick the habit; it’s part of our nature to want to correct and get things right, after all, we have been doing it all our lives. It’s tough!
The next time the need to correct someone with dementia comes up, here’s what these 2 videos on the ability to resist, self-control and delayed gratification can do for us. After all, when we laugh and learn, we remember better. What better way to do it then to have Sir Ian McKellen, Tom Hiddleston, Cookie Monster & cookies remind us about the ability to resist and to know that we will be happier for it later. 2 must see cute, meaningful and delightful videos that will keep us smiling instead of getting frustrated the next time we want to correct someone we care for with dementia.
This is part of a series of post that aims to help everyone learn through laughter. #LearnTLaughter