In a care home in Swansea, small changes were afoot that have had a huge impact on residents experiencing dementia.
There was an important shift from services being done ‘to’ residents to staff actively including them in the way the care home was run that left residents and – and staff – feeling more empowered and in control of their care.
The care home manager said: “We went from task-based care to embracing a person centred approach that really values people…we give them control by giving them choices.”
But what does putting service users at the heart of their care look like? In Swansea, residents became involved with everything from helping with mealtimes and selecting meaningful activities to deciding what their support plans and evening routines were. A bi-monthly carer and relative group was also set up offering a chance to share views about what could be done differently to improve the care their loved ones receive.
A buzz in the air
The impact on residents and staff has been profound. Increases in emotional wellbeing, independence and feeling empowered were reported, and a buzz in the atmosphere shows how engaged residents are.
This is just one example of what is known as co-production in practice; that is, working with people who use services to design and run high quality services that meet needs and have positive impacts. It takes time to change things “we can’t hurry”, it’s about good communication, and slowing down to provide high quality interactions and up-to-date training.
All in it together
There has also been a change in understanding that co-production means sharing of power: “Everyone does everything together; we’re not setting ourselves apart”. And staff said they felt happier and proud to be part of something that makes such a great benefit.
Not all people experiencing dementia have the same access to healthcare. If you are from a black or minority ethnic group it might be harder to get access to basic healthcare. Making sure services are as accessible as possible and promoting diversity of staffing through a diverse recruitment programme; this can mean that service users are well-matched with care and support workers.
Co-production can be part of a wider equality approach to promote diversity in social care. A video shows more about co-production in this care home. You can find it at www.tinyurl.com/carehomeswansea
SCIE’s Co-production team run co-production training from Introduction to Advanced Level and offer consultancy to make co-production a reality within organisations. Get in touch with a member of the team here www.tinyurl.com/scieenquiry. We can support you to put people back in control of their lives and give them choices.
Kate Pieroudis is Co-Production Development Manager, the Social Care Institute for Excellence.