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Archive for the ‘Reflections on dementia care’ Category

What a show!

Rose Lodge residents were on stage this weekend for the second year running, as part of ‘Wish upon a star’ show directed by Maslen George. It was a fantastic show with contributions from the wide range of drama classes that Maslen runs for children and adults including people living with learning disabilities or dementia. This year many more of our residents were on stage compared to last year, performing individually, and together in a very jolly ‘London knees-up’. Personally I would rather put pins in my eyes than perform on stage so I have the greatest respect for anyone with the courage to perform in public, and to just have such riotous fun!

There are tremendous benefits to these kinds of events. It gives people who enjoy performing on stage the knowledge that they are making a contribution to their community. But it also makes us consider how we think about people with dementia. Perhaps they are not as vulnerable and dependent as we sometimes think. If they can do things that we would never do willingly, perhaps our respect grows and it makes us wonder what else they can do with a little support. The answer is just about anything.  I think we will draw the line at skydiving though.

On the other hand…WHY NOT?

 

Maslen has once again succeeded in putting together a wonderfully inclusive and pioneering  show, and we are very happy to be part of her happy drama family.

Living and working together….

At Rose Lodge we are much inspired by David Sheard’s work on dementia care. One of his themes is about reducing the barriers that can exists between carers and residents. Uniforms are one such barrier. They can make residents feel they are in some kind of instituation such as a hospital (and wouldn’t that make anyone feel ill and somehat passive ?). And it can also make carers feel more detached than we want them to be at Rose where we encourage real relationship between carers and residents, and our aim is  to create an environment where residents and carers live and work together. Not quite like home, but more like a homely social club where you can stay the night.

A few weeks ago we started a trial where care staff wear normal clothes instead of uniforms and my sense is that this is already helping to create a more supportive and comfortable social environment for the residents.

Like today, when carers and residents were enjoying each other;s company during a craft activity. Lovely!

Compassion

com·pas·sion  (km-pshn)n. Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

Also known as ‘being a gentleman’! (On the ramble today)

Putting patients first

There was a report in the daily Mail today about David Cameron telling nurses they should ‘put patients before paperwork’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2082883/NHS-care-David-Cameron-says-nurses-told-talk-patients-hospital-wards.html). This of course is perfectly sensible but somehow you get the impression from Mr Cameron that the poor care in hospitals is the fault of the nurses. The reality is that for a long time the regulator has been pushing hospitals and care homes for ‘evidencing of good practice’. Health and Social Care must be the only profession where there is a presumption of ‘guilty unless proven innocent’ and this emphasis on proving yourself innocent, combined with threats of criminal prosecution for non-compliance has inevitably forced staff to a focus on paperwork rather than patient care. As many have predicted for years, this approach is now reaching its inevitable and gruesome dead end.

If the government really wants to make a difference to the care of patients in hospitals and care homes they will need to fundamentally reform the culture and inspection regime of the regulator. Without that no amount of exhortation by the Prime Minister will do a blind bit of difference.

For the past couple of years at Rose Lodge we have had a policy of ‘put residents before paperwork’ and the results are there for all to see: drastically reduced accident rates, and vastly increased health and happiness in the residents.

It is time that regulations and regulators are brought in line with best practice (also known as common sense!).

Three little words….

Perhaps the word most associated with dementia is that of suffering. “Dementia Sufferers” is the phrase most commonly used in the press to describe people who live with dementia.The implication is that suffering is what defines dementia, that suffering is a necessary and continuous part of the condition.

We have known for some time that dementia is not defined by suffering, and that the physical and social environment that we create can help people to live well with dementia and minimise suffering. At Rose Lodge we talk a lot about well-being and using well-being as a measure of how well we support our residents.

We have been reluctant to use the H-word though. HAPPYNESS. It seems too much to aim for, too high a bar to set. Well-being Yes, living well with dementia Yes. But happiness ? Can people with dementia really be happy ? After all, how many of us can say they are happy for anything other than a fleeting moment ?

So nothing is more powerful and satisfying to us than to hear these simple words from the family of our residents, especially when they have struggled to find the right environment for them:

“He/she is happy”

We have heard those three magic words a couple of times times this week.

This week has been a good week.

Let’s start talking about happiness.