By 2021 the number of people living with dementia will rise to over a million and they are more likely to die in a Care Home (Help the Hospices 2013). This is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society report (2103) suggesting that 80% of people living in Care Homes have dementia.
Dementia is a terminal illness as there is no cure and people with dementia and their families face the challenge of living with this progressive illness for many years.
So, armoured with this information and some understanding of the challenges faced by carers and families when caring for someone with dementia at the end of their life is what led HospiceCare in developing a project about dementia and end of life care to care staff in Care Homes across North Northumberland. The aim being, to not only support and raise awareness of the Care Home staff, but to help make a difference in the quality of care delivery and support to people with dementia and their families at the end of their life.
In 2016 the project was successfully funded by two charitable Trusts, Henfrey Charitable Trust and the Garfield
Weston Foundation and their generosity of funding meant that the project was extended from eighteen months to two years. Once funding was in place the Hospice employed two Mental Health nurses into the Hospice team for two days a week so that the knowledge and experience of dementia and end of life care could be fused together.
There are 20 Care Homes across North Northumberland who will all be approached over the next two years to engage with the Hospice, with an opportunity to develop partnership working as well as participate in the project. Earlier this year 5 Care Homes were contacted and currently 4 Care Homes across Alnwick, Amble and Berwick are participating in the project’s seven session programme which addresses topics such as dementia, end of life, communication, comfort care, families, last days of life and bereavement.
We are currently 4 months into delivering the programme and the care homes are welcoming and showing a commitment to the programme by most of their care staff attending each of the sessions which are well received with feedback varying from good to excellent. So whilst the project is still in its infancy its reception from Care Homes and the relationships which are developing with the
Hospice is positive and already making a difference in some way.
Once the programme has finished, relationships with the Care Home will continue with the Hospice as each Care Home will have identified one or two Hospice Link Carers to continue developing relationships with on-going access to support and information when caring for someone with dementia and their family at end of life.
Heatherdale Care Home, Broomhill (staff pictured below)
Alison Moore is the Care Manager at Heatherdale Care Home, Broomhill Alnwick. She welcomed the opportunity to have Sue and Betty deliver Dementia/End of Life care training to her staff when approached by HospiceCare earlier this year.
Alison said “We all appreciate here that Dementia is not a ‘one size fits all’ condition. It is about constantly having to adapt your care, every day is different. We have all benefited by having HospiceCare in to talk about death and dying. It has enabled us to have a different approach with our families and to have a more open conversation about end of life care.
All our staff, including our domestic staff, carers, managers and team leaders, have found it a positive and rewarding experience having this additional training. It is also very comforting to know that HospiceCare will still be supporting us around dementia and end of life care now and in the future. We will all miss Sue and Betty coming into the home.
We have always been really good at providing end of life care, but the training has reassured us that we are doing the right things. I do hope that the other care homes in North Northumberland take up this wonderful opportunity from HospiceCare.” Alison Moore.