This is Pt 3 of a series looking at dementia and what Gerry Robinson highlighted in his BBC documentary programme on Dementia Care Homes when he looked into the quality of service being delivered to the elderly in the UK (see bottom of page for previous two articles.
In Part 3 we’re going to look at the outcome for Summer Vale and the available services and Residential Care Home standards we adhere to in the UK.
In Part 1(of this series) we saw how residents were being treated at Summer Vale, a care home in Leicester, where staff were not held accountable and mostly got-by through a processing system with their residents.
Sadly, for the residents at Summer Vale the experiment came too late because the Home and Area Manager’s friendship compromised their professionalism. This meant that staff disciplinarians were not carried through as they should have been and the home was closed as the programme drew to a close.
In Part 2 we saw the introduction of one of the leading Care Home providers in the UK, David Sheard and some small examples of how he does it differently.
David shows by example how good care homes not only carry out the processing of their clients in the daily and necessary chores of cleaning, feeding and sleeping but also encourage their clients to have as much independence as they can muster. In turn this helps residents feel safe, secure and nurtured in the space they find themselves living.
The difference is clear in that instead of residents being ‘processed’ quickly in order to get them sorted but sitting around for the rest of the day, the approach of supporting clients to do things for themselves enables more independence than most homes consider appropriate for their system. It seems a more enlightened approach and could provide the way forward in terms of giving a greater quality of care at every level.
Affording residents an opportunity to be more sociable and community spirited has to be a good thing right? And this is a great way of having our elderly population stay connected with their generation of like-minded friends old and new.
Are dolls and soft toys patronising and demeaning to people with dementia? David Moore thought so before working at Merevale House, in Warwickshire, but his experience there and seeing the joy and comfort the dolls brought to those suffering Dementia changed his mind.
Ann (the owner of Merevale House) and David (owner of Dementia Care Matters) first introduced the dolls as a complementary therapy to promote a feeling of well being for some people who appeared agitated and unsettled. David goes on to say:
“When I first started working there, I was surprised to see several of the residents carrying dolls. My previous training had taught me that giving an individual with Dementia a doll was childish, patronising and demeaning (the opposite of our aim to treat each individual with the respect they deserved). However, after spending only a coupe of hours at Merevale, I saw that the residents did not discard the dolls, as I thought they would, but openly accepted them.
During my first day I noticed one of the residents searching for something. I followed her into another room (a makeshift ‘nursery’) where she discovered a doll lying in a cot. She went over to it, picked it up, cuddled it, kissed it and her face lit up with joy. Her positive reaction made me realise that this lady did not feel patronised. Instead she was receiving a great deal of joy and comfort from this doll.”
This is one great example of a therapy that looks different, but I’ve heard of this before. My own mum has taken to liking soft toys in recent years and initially I thought it was because they weren’t something she had access to as a child, but now I can see there is more to it.
Gerry states that during the next 20-years over a million Britons will have dementia, and sufferers are likely to end up in one of the country’s privately run care homes. It’s a huge business worth £6 billion, largely paid for by taxation. His investigation driven by the recent passing of his own father from this condition set about the task of looking at whether we’re getting it right.
Those affected by the condition have until recently put up with a culture of stagnant lounges, a lack of specialist training among staff, and a focus on keeping people alive rather than helping them to live a happy life?
This programme really highlighted what has been the norm and how easy it is to change the emphasis into one of mutual respect, care and kindness by having a different perspective. Instead of zooming in on what a person is no longer capable of it gives fresh life to encourage as much independence for as long as possible. This disease can continue for a decade or more so its important we start to get it right so that people can continue to get some joy and fun out of life while they’re around.
The big question remains as to which of the programme’s two examples is the more typical? Do you have any light to throw on the matter … I’d welcome your experiences and knowledge on the topic.
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Until next time…
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