Tracey Carter, Head of Dementia Care, HC-One
More than half a million people currently live in care homes across the country, the majority (70%) of whom live with dementia.
Figures show the age of the United Kingdom’s population is steadily rising, and an estimated one million people will live with dementia by 2025. Care providers face a pressing need to ensure their current and future dementia care strategies meet both rising demand, and customer expectations, whilst firmly enriching the lives of their residents.
How can providers do this by placing people first? How can residents be defined for who they are, not by the dementia they live with?
Building the Foundations
Instilling the correct culture of colleague training and development is a key pillar to support and achieve the best care outcomes.
HC-One has worked to develop its enhanced dementia strategy which is being rolled out this year across c.275 care homes, benefitting nearly C.13,300 residents. The strategy is underpinned by empowering colleagues with the skills and expertise they need to place people first.
In practice, this means ensuring our teams develop empathy through having the experience and confidence to apply dementia care in a manner that matches their role.
To match this vision, HC-One’s strategy introduces a tiered approach to learning and development. It commences with an e-learning dementia programme, serving as entry-level training for all HC-One colleagues, followed by classroom-based learning sessions, and advanced training for those working in specialist dementia care communities.
The guiding principle of the strategy is to provide all colleagues, no matter their role, with the same foundations on how they can actively place a persons’ individual needs above their dementia.
From our strategy’s pilot phases, success was marked by colleagues’ connections with residents on an individual basis and gaining a full understanding of their cultural and personal needs.
In one particular example, colleagues worked with a local mosque to understand the cultural needs of a resident called Abdul. Doing so helped them to develop a greater understanding of Islam, thereby allowing them to tailor their care to better meet Abdul’s individual needs.
This has enabled Abdul to build a powerful connection with the mosque’s community members whilst residing in our home. This example firmly illustrates the importance of valuing the individual, their needs, preferences, and how these can be met on a very individual basis.
Success can be measured through an array of informal and formal matrices, including a database of referrals and a dementia care evaluation tool. Yet, the greatest marker of success is the positive impact on the lives of residents, their families, and the people caring for them.
Building a Wider Support Network
To ensure there is effective wraparound support provided to all homes, HC-One’s team of specialist, national Dementia Care Managers provide additional support if a resident’s needs change.
This is exemplified by Dementia Care Managers providing individual support to residents, their families and colleagues. This has been particularly evident in Scotland, where HC-One’s Dementia Care Manager supported a resident, Frank, whose stimulation was becoming increasingly minimal and presented challenges for the care home’s team.
Extensive liaison with local healthcare teams helped the national Dementia Care Manager and Frank’s care home build a picture of his background and what was important to him, such as his previous work as a HGV driver. The home then acted on this by building a bespoke care programme where he proudly and safely works alongside colleagues to unload care bundle deliveries from a lorry.
Building full profiles of residents like Abdul and Frank ultimately enables care teams to better support them and improves their care outcomes. This should serve as the central ethos of any successful, person-led dementia care strategy.