Fostering attachment in dementia care

Matthew Berrisford is a Charge Nurse at The Meadows Community Hospital, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. He tweets @berrisfjord

One of the most useful pieces of advice I can share with a colleague working in dementia care is this: whenever confronted with what you perceive to be attention­-seeking behaviour, reframe it to yourself as attachment-seeking behaviour.

Attachment is a hard-wired evolutionary mechanism in all mammals. Simply put, in order to survive, infants must imprint upon a main carer (typically one or both parents) to ensure that their essential needs are met.

These needs are not purely physical (food, drink, protection); the relationship itself is essential. This fact is aptly demonstrated by animal experiments (Harlow’s monkeys and Skinner’s rats, for example) which consistently show that infant mammals raised in isolation – with no access to a main carer to imprint upon – age quickly and die younger. Continue reading

A Warm Glow in Solihull

Maxine Burrows and Yvonne Obaidy are Collaborative Leads for Early Help 0 – 19 at Solihull Metropolitan Council.  They develop high quality sustainable services for children, young people and families.  In this blog they talk about a new intergenerational pilot that they are working on and how they are enjoying the challenges and diversity that this work is providing.  Dr Zoe Wyrko (Consultant Geriatrician. Associate Medical Director – Quality Development, University Hospitals Birmingham) is providing them with support and help as needed, including evaluation tools for the older adults. You can follow them at @EngageSolihull

We are carrying out a pilot of intergenerational working in Olton, a district of Solihull in the West Midlands, with two local partners – St Bernard’s Residential Care Home for older adults and Tender Years Day Nursery. The care home has lovely cosy rooms – which are not huge, and the nursery has transport for five children so we chose to do a small pilot involving just five older adults to start with. Our intergenerational activity takes place every Wednesday at 10.30am for one hour.

We had several preliminary individual meetings with the nursery and the care home and then all parties came together for a final planning meeting two weeks before the pilot started. The meetings were useful for clarifying roles and responsibilities and planning some of the activities.  Most importantly the final meeting enabled the care home staff and nursery staff to meet and share their reasons for taking part in the pilot. Continue reading

Handmade for Dementia North West & UK

Sharon Wallace is from Chester, Cheshire. She has been a professional singer for 34 years.

I sing in care homes around Chester and North Wales and had noticed that a few of the residents were quite anxious and fidgety, which was disappointing to see. My grandma had Alzheimer’s and now my beautiful mum and her sister both have Vascular Dementia.

I was introduced to the NHS Dementia Twiddle Mitt in March 2016 when I volunteered at The Hospice of The Good Shepherd in Chester. As a non-knitter, I decided that I would try to make one. That ONE has now taken me over… Continue reading

World first study reveals admitting an older relative in temporary respite care can be a deadly mistake

A world first study into deaths of Australians admitted into aged respite care – usually to provide a planned or emergency break for their carer – reveals that older people in respite care are significantly more likely to die from preventable injury causes such as falls than those who are permanent nursing home residents.

The study found that preventable deaths from choking are twice as high as for long term residential care. Other preventable deaths such as from suicide are also higher in these temporary residents.

The research – published in Age and Ageing journal, by Monash University researchers – has serious implications for the 80% of older Australians who are cared for in the community by spouses, family members and friends. Of these more than 50,000 go into temporary respite care each year. Continue reading

Predicting who will be admitted to a care home from hospital?

Jenni Burton is a Clinical Research Fellow in Geriatric Medicine funded by the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre and the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. Here she discusses the results of two linked systematic reviews of predictors of care home admission from hospital. She tweets @JenniKBurton.

Care home admission from hospital has long been recognised as an area of significant variation in practice (Oliver D et al. 2014. Making our health and care systems fit for an ageing population) and one which remains a strategic target to reduce across the UK. However, more than half of care home admissions each year in Scotland come directly from hospital settings. It is therefore important to explore the predictors of this life-changing transition to help inform prognostication, communication with individuals and their families, service planning and the extent to which we can intervene to prevent or modify this outcome.  Continue reading

Autumn Speakers Series: Under what circumstances, and in what ways, is a quality improvement collaborative likely to succeed in a care home setting?

Dr Reena Devi is a research fellow in the Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine at the University of Nottingham. She is working on the PEACH (‘ProactivE heAlthcare for older people living in Care Homes) study, which is led by Dr Adam Gordon, and funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust. She will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London. She tweets @_DrReenaDevi 

Improving healthcare services delivered to older people is high on the national agenda. Nationwide initiatives are currently focusing on this, for example, six of the Vanguard projects set up in response to the 5 year forward view are specifically devoted to delivering new models of healthcare into care homes. Smaller scale initiatives are also being carried out in local settings, such as the PEACH project.

The PEACH project is using improvement science to bridge the gap between what we know and what we do in terms of the healthcare services delivered to care homes in South Nottinghamshire. The project is working with 4 clinical commissioning groups and their associated healthcare and care home providers, and is focusing on bringing healthcare services closer in-line with the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) model of care. Continue reading

The struggle for age-proof medical care in the Netherlands

Wilco Achterberg (1963) is an elderly care physician and a Professor of institutional care and elderly care medicine in Leiden, the Netherlands. His research focus is on the most vulnerable elderly, most of whom live in nursing homes, and is centered around two themes: pain in dementia and geriatric rehabilitation. He tweets @wilcoachterberg

The Netherlands have been very fortunate to have had a very good insurance system for long term care, which provided good funding for nursing home care. That is why in a typical Dutch Nursing home you can find, next to nurses, therapists like physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians and even physicians. In 1989, a 2 year post graduate medical training program started, and ‘nursing home physician’ became an officially recognised medical specialism.  The biggest challenge for Ageing Holland is not how to provide good care for older persons, but how to pay for that care. Therefore, for several years now government is trying to find other ways of caring for vulnerable and care dependent persons. Continue reading

Reflections on ‘NOT Forgotten Lives: Felixstowe 2017’

Liz Charalambous is a nurse and PhD student. She tweets at @lizcharalambou and is a regular guest blogger for the BGS. Here she reviews ‘NOT Forgotten Lives: Felixstowe 2017’ edited by Julia Jones and Bertie Wheen

‘NOT Forgotten Lives’ is a written record, produced for the 2017 Felixstowe Book Festival, which celebrates the lives of older people living locally in residential accommodation. This slim volume is organised by an overview of what life story work is about, followed by photographs and accounts of the life stories of residents living in nursing and residential accommodation in Felixstowe. It concludes with a personal reflection from the co-editor, Bertie Wheen.

Why is this book important?

In a world where dementia is on the increase there are political, economic, ethical and often personal reasons why society must wake up to the reality of the disease. Currently an estimated 50 million people worldwide live with dementia, with a forecast of 131.5 million by 2050.  In the UK there are 850,000 people living with the disease, estimated to increase to 2 million by 2050. These figures alone suggest that dementia is a disease which can no longer be ignored. Continue reading

Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

Dr Zoe Wyrko is a Consultant physician at University Hospital Birmingham and is the Director of Workforce for the BGS. In this blog she discusses the recent Channel 4 programme in which she appeared, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. She tweets @geri_baby

I’ve always had a soft spot for care homes. As a child I would occasionally go into work with my Mum and meet some of the old ladies she talked about. When I was older I started work in the same nursing home as a kitchen girl on Saturdays, and then later progressed to health care assistant. I remain proud of my training record from that time, showing I am competent to deliver personal care, clean dentures and cut nails.

This is why I was excited when an approach came from CPL productions, who were looking for geriatricians to be involved with a television programme they wanted to make about introducing children to a care home environment. Continue reading

Autumn Speakers Series: Is it just me… or have we listened and changed?

Sharon Blackburn has worked in the independent care sector for over 28 years, having previously spent 10 years in the NHS in a variety of roles. Sharon is currently Policy and Communications Director for the National Care Forum. She was awarded an CBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours for services to nursing and the not-for-profit care sector. She tweets at @NCFSharon She will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Autumn Meeting in London.

Care Homes routinely feature in the press and not always for the right reasons. Sadly the negative experiences and stories do little to help us all promote the amazing work that is being done with people who live in care homes up and down the country. Instead it feeds peoples’ already distorted views and understanding, including those of professionals. Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector for adult social care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) talks about the ‘mum’ test – “would this service be good enough for my mum?” I would suggest the ‘mum’ test needs to be more up close and personal… “would this service be acceptable to me”? Continue reading