No one working in the care sector can fail to be aware of the enormous significance of dementia, particularly as it’s estimated that 70% of people in care homes are living with dementia or severe memory problems. When you also consider that over 1 million people are expected to have dementia by 2025, it is clear that the sector needs to do all it can to ensure we are providing the best possible specialist care for this group of people.
At The Orders of St John Care Trust, we recently undertook a significant piece of work to consolidate our expertise in dementia care, and plan how we will continue to meet one of the largest growing needs among our residents and the population as a whole.
The result of this was the Dementia Care Framework. This guidance sets forth our vision for how we equip all employees with the knowledge and support they need to provide the best possible care for people living with dementia.
To make sure our approach to dementia care is exemplary, we drew on expertise and best practice from across the sector. One of the best sources of expert knowledge is our employees and volunteers on the frontline of dementia care, giving them invaluable experience and insight. We also worked with trusted partners, for example we made links with the charity Dementia UK’s wider work programmes. We referred to existing competency frameworks and standards, and models of dementia care such as the National Dementia Declaration and the NICE Dementia Quality Standards. We also made sure that the views and experiences of people living with dementia and their family, friends and carers underpinned the Framework.
The Framework starts with an introduction to dementia, including the importance of dementia-friendly environments, to ensure all our colleagues have a real understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia.
Our dementia training pathway, outlined in the Framework, ensures every employee has baseline knowledge and skills in dementia care, and means people can progress to an advanced level, always building on knowledge and skills, attitudes and behaviours.
The most advanced level is our Admiral Nurses, who are Registered Nurses specialising in dementia care. This service was developed in collaboration with Dementia UK, and our Admiral Nurses give expert practical, clinical and emotional support to OSJCT employees, and families and carers supporting those living with dementia, in our homes as well as in the community through outreach programmes.
The Dementia Care Framework includes aspirations to ensure our organisation is a leading care provider. As part of this, we now have four people in the role of Head of Dementia Care in our specialist dementia care homes, who help create a culture of inclusion where the independence and choice of residents is a focus.
As the training of our colleagues is a vital part of our approach to dementia care, the Framework also sets out a new accreditation, endorsed by Dementia UK. The Wellbeing and Dementia Accreditation is based around the Six Sense Framework, on the basis that in an enriched environment, residents, their families and carers experience all six senses, of security, belonging, continuity, purpose, achievement and significance.
The Dementia Care Framework is a vital tool to help all colleagues understand our vision for excellent care for people living with dementia, and how their role forms part of that vision.
The process of developing the Framework has been a really useful exercise to consolidate expertise, and having our vision written down/exemplified in this way makes our plans tangible, accessible and, ultimately, achievable.
For more information about The Orders of St John Care Trust’s approach to care for people living with dementia go to www.osjct.co.uk/life-at-osjct/types-of-care/dementia/