As nearly 850,000 people in the UK now live with dementia, awareness of the condition is increasingly being portrayed in the media. Oscar award-winning film “Still Alice”, ITV soap Emmerdale and the online film from the creators of Wallace and Gromit are all helping to bring a greater understanding of dementia
Caroline Baker, Director of Dementia at Barchester, believes this increased portrayal of dementia in the media can be a real benefit. “Seeing dementia on our screens allows people to talk about the condition and the difficulties it can bring to families coping with what can be a difficult situation. At Barchester, we specialise in dementia care at over 160 of our care homes. Our Memory Lane communities are specifically designed to help alleviate the stress that often accompanies a diagnosis of dementia.”
“Nurses and care assistants across Barchester ensure the physical and emotional well-being of our residents living with dementia on a daily basis. My role is to ensure the team has access to the best training and support needed to undertake this specialist type of care. We offer a broad range of training; from understanding the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act to minimising distress for residents. We also offer leadership courses for those who want to take the next step in their career.”
In addition to supporting all of the Barchester Memory Lane communities, Caroline and her elite team of dementia specialists are running a pilot which looks at the complete approach to dementia care within a care home. Caroline explains “We want our dementia care to be industry leading so that all residents receive the support they need. This innovate trial looks at all aspects of interaction with our dementia residents and their families. We have developed a new training programme which includes every member of the team who comes into contact with our dementia residents.”
Caroline added “Some of the amazing things coming from the pilot scheme are helping us to develop our learning tools. Each resident living with dementia is encouraged to play the “My Memory Board Game” with the team. The game helps us to build a more in-depth life story of the resident so we get to know as much as we can about them.”
Claire Peart (RMN), one of Barchester’s Dementia Care Specialists, understands how important it is to ensure the comfort of our residents.
“I made the decision at 16 to become a nurse and I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to specialise in dementia care. Nursing people living with dementia is such a rewarding job. I have been lucky to work in dementia care as a nurse, Head of Unit and now a Dementia Care Specialist.”
“Over the last 15 years there have been many changes in the approach to dementia care, but I’ve noticed a huge change in the perception of the condition in the last 5 years. There has been a steady increase in public awareness; this could have something to do with the younger generation now being touched by dementia.
An important part of being a nurse in our memory Lane communities is the person centred care we offer. This means supporting and guiding our resident’s and their families through each stage of their loved ones condition. With the prevalence of young onset dementia, we are caring for much younger residents as well as working with young adults who are coping with their parent’s condition. All families want to understand everything and are very involved in their loved one’s care plans.”
“We work very hard to ensure our residents living with dementia live to their full potential and we aim to give them as much time back with their families as we can. We achieve this by involving the whole team in a Memory Lane Community. For example, we hold weekly music therapy sessions which include everyone from the General Manager to the housekeeping team singing with the residents. This simple session ensures that people get to know each other; it also means we learn how to soothe and help a resident if they become distressed. I have seen many wonderful people in my team go to great lengths to support our residents such as a nurse singing gently to a distressed end-of-life resident
Claire is proud of everything she has achieved with Barchester and is excited about future developments. “I have achieved all my personal career goals to date; now I have the opportunity to help teams across Barchester to realise the full potential of residents living with dementia.”