Category: Devon Dementia Kitemark

Guest Blog: #UnitedAgainstDementia for Dementia Awareness Week

Guest Blog: #UnitedAgainstDementia for Dementia Awareness Week

Peninsula Care Homes are raising awareness for Dementia Awareness Week from the 14th to the 20th of May 2017. This week’s guest blog comes from PCH Marketing and Admin Coordinator, Nikita Morgan.

I am the Marketing & Admin Coordinator at Peninsula Care Homes and I look after the company’s social media, website and publications. In this blog post I am looking back at my first year at PCH and my experience with dementia.

This time last year I joined PCH and took up my first role in the care industry. Being completely new to the industry, I quickly learnt how important it was to be aware of dementia and how to help those living with it. Visiting the care homes for the first time I could witness just how much hard work its staff members put in daily and nightly. Almost instantly I was completely drawn into the passion the caregivers gave doing their jobs and helping residents.

It has been heavily reported that dementia is set to be one of the UK’s biggest killer. With too many facing it alone, it is more important now more than ever to unite against the condition and to understand how to help those living with it. This was something I turned my focus towards.

As each of our residential homes care for residents living with dementia, this was something I familiarised myself with quickly. From watching the PCH staff when visiting the care homes for the first time, it was clear this kind, caring and patient nature was not just essential but almost second nature as they went about their duties

Part of my role at PCH is to keep up to date with local communities and strengthen our relationships with our organisations. PCH are members of the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, a group founded by Gina Awad with one goal, ‘to create a more dementia friendly community’. More recently our Plympton care home have become members of the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance, another great opportunity to help support their local events and raise awareness in the Plymouth area.

The Alliance has created some fantastic opportunities for local care homes, including ourselves, and families to get involved in fun events and exciting activities in the city. It has also raised significant awareness in the city for those living with dementia, from the Royal Albert Museum holding craft classes for those living with dementia to come with their families or carers, to dementia friendly screenings at the local Picture House. All of which are to help Exeter become a more dementia friendly community.

In addition to Company training on dementia many PCH staff have chosen to become Dementia Friends. You can become a Dementia friend by taking a course that inspires and teaches the fundamentals to understanding dementia and those affected. I joined the course and received my lovely forget me not Dementia Friend Badge, with the little book of friendship as part of completing the course.

I recently completed the Virtual Dementia Tour; a course that puts you through a virtual reality experience simulating how an individual may experience living with dementia. It was such an incredible experience which will stay with me. It was almost like a light-bulb moment and after the course I understood a great deal more about the symptoms of dementia and how I can help the care homes and residents going forward. For an example, I learned that the primary colours are the last colours to be identified – this helps me when I am designing posters, newsletters and food menus, etc, to make them more dementia friendly.

virtual-dementia-tour

My understanding of dementia has grown as well as my passion to help those living with the symptoms. I hope you join us and the national conversation this Dementia Awareness Week and stand ‘United Against Dementia’. Contact our homes or your local community to find out what activities are taking place across the week.  Or simply join in the conversation across social media by using #UnitedAgainstDementia and #DAW17.

Dementia Care Conference

Dementia Care Conference

The recent Dementia Care Conference was organised by a fellow member of the Devon Care Kite Mark (DCKM https://dckm.co.uk/). If you haven’t heard of the DCKM then it’s a group of care homes based in Devon supporting each other to provide excellent care. It currently represents 60 homes offering regular training, master classes, and get together in order to share best practice. Another of the hugely beneficial elements is peer reviews. Owners and managers visit another home offering an independent opinion on an agreed topic. This critical friend reviewing is an invaluable part of our audit system as we strive to provide the best care.

The conference was open to both health/social care professionals as well members of the public. Each of our staff who attended found the day extremely beneficial. Interestingly but not surprisingly each had a different key point as their take away message. This holds true with something head of Care Quality Commission (CQC) Andrea Sutcliffe said “if you’ve met one person with dementia you’ve met one person”. You can’t assume to know someone’s life, how they wish to be cared for, or what their highlight of a conference will be without asking.

I’ve read Andrea Sutcliffe’s blogs, as head of CQC she is an important leader having an impact on our daily operation of our homes. As a speaker she engaged and held her audience and did, in my opinion, come across as being passionate about raising standards.

Andrea has frequently shared a picture of her mother stating the importance of the mum test “ask yourself if it’s good enough for your mum or someone you care deeply for”. This is a simple but excellent test and one all our staff can keep in mind as they go about this day.

Andrea spoke about the importance of seeing the person not the diagnosis that we have to help people live life to the full and thus enabling people to have a meaningful life.  The other speakers also supported the absolute importance of life history.  This history is crucial to allow homes to provide the personalised care everyone deserves, and help residents achieve a meaningful life.  Mark from Home Instead a domiciliary provider spoke about a gentleman who was refusing morning showers.  When they learnt more about his life history and previous routines they learnt that he always returned home from work on a certain train, poured himself a gin and then had a bath.  When the agency changed the care to match this pattern he was extremely happy to have a bath.  Read our previous blog on reminiscing: https://peninsulacarehomes.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/the-importance-of-reminiscing/

So for me the conference was a beneficial day with many key messages and tips to help us improve our service.  A quote Andrea shared in her closing speech which we should all embrace was “see every single person as an individual.  It is our privilege to support them to live their life with as much happiness, love and security as we can give them”