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

What does good look like when thinking about care homes?

Claire Goodman is Professor of Health Care Research at University of Hertfordshire. Claire has a district nursing background and is a NIHR Senior Investigator. Her research focuses on the health and social care needs of the oldest old, including those affected by dementia and living in long term care. She leads the DEMCOM study, an evaluation of Dementia Friendly Communities – @DEMCOMstudy @HDEMCOP

We have new neighbours. They moved three miles to improve their children’s chances of going to their preferred secondary school. If they had stayed put they would have been assured of getting a good state education. We are surrounded by Ofsted rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ schools. The issue was that whilst it probably did not matter if their daughter went to a girls only or co-educational school, for their son, a boys only school, with a big focus on sport, would have been a problem. People in my local area know a lot about the schools, they know what the head is like, who the good teachers are, what extra-curricular activities are available and if it’s struggling with its budget. Continue reading

“Please remember I’m still a person!” A carer’s solution to help hospital staff provide person-centred and holistic care

Zoe Harris cared for her husband at home before his dementia reached a stage where she was unable to cope, and he spent his final months in a care home. As a result of that experience, Zoe developed a range of communication tools to ensure that carers were aware of his needs and preferences, and which have subsequently been adopted by over 1,000 care homes and home care agencies. Her latest project is Mycarematters, an online platform where people, or someone on their behalf, can upload information to help hospital staff treat the whole person and not just their medical condition. @ZoeHarrisCCUK @Mycarematters @Care_Charts_UK

When I look back, I think Geoff had been showing signs of dementia for at least eight years before his diagnosis, and it was only a matter of months after he was finally told that he had what was probably a mix of Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Bodies, that his condition took a turn for the worse. I had to admit defeat and he moved first to a dementia assessment ward and, three months later, to a care home for what turned out to be the final 13 months of his life. Continue reading

The Challenges of Research in the Care Home Setting

Annabelle Long is a Chartered Physiotherapist working as a Research Assistant at the University of Nottingham on a Dunhill Medical Trust funded PEACH study, which considers the role of Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in UK care homes. She has a developing research interest in wellbeing for people with dementia in community environments. In this blog she outlines the potential challenges and solutions in doing research at the health and social care interface.

As practitioners and researchers in care of older people, it is important for us to be continually working to include more dependent groups in research. The reason for doing so is to ensure that the evidence base can reliably be applied to the patients we see in everyday practice. However involving older people with dependency in research can be challenging because cognitive and physical impairments can make standard procedures for recruitment and data collection difficult. Continue reading

Walking now prevents dementia later, study finds

A new study published in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, suggests maintaining a higher level of physical activity during middle age may be a key strategy for the prevention of dementia in older age.

Past studies have suggested that physical activity such as walking can be a protective factor against dementia but this study suggests that maintaining a higher level of physical activity before older age is more important for the prevention of dementia than physical activity only in older age. Continue reading

Dementia awareness is not just for one week – it’s for life

Dr Shibley Rahman is currently an academic physician in dementia and frailty. His contribution on the diagnosis of behavioural frontal frontotemporal dementia, published while he was a M.B./Ph.D. student at Cambridge in 1999, is considered widely to be an important contribution to the field even cited in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine. He has published widely on dementia, and his first book ‘Living well with dementia’ won best book for health and social care for the BMJ Awards in 2015. His third book ‘Enhancing health and wellbeing in dementia: a person-centred integrated care approach’ was published earlier this year on aspects of the integrated care pathway, and likewise has been critically acclaimed. He, furthermore, has a passionate interest in rights-based approaches which he accrued as part of his postgraduate legal training. He tweets at @dr_shibley.

This week – in England –  it’s ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ – 14-20 May 2017. But so what?

The problem is – ‘dementia awareness’ means different things to different people. In a nutshell, I hope that the workforce can embrace the notion that people living with dementia are incredibly rewarding to support and look after, and use this week as part of a celebration of this.

If you’re working in health and social care, it can be surprisingly easy to overestimate the knowledge about dementia amongst some members of the general public. Continue reading

Take time to talk! The importance of an informant history

Adam Dyer is a Final Year Medical Student in Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Sean Kennelly (MB PhD FRCPI) is a Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine in Tallaght Hospital (Dublin, Ireland) and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The following work was presented as a platform presentation at the 64th Irish Gerontological Society Meeting in Killarney, Ireland (October, 2016).

Imagine you’re seeing a consult or you’re on a post-take ward round. How often do we examine a patient and identify cognitive deficits, see that the CT brain scan report and the MMSE score are readily on hand, but then ask staff about the patient’s premorbid cognition and function and are met with blank expressions?

An important factor which complicates the presentation of older people to acute hospitals is the presence of impaired cognitive status (either in the form of dementia, delirium or both). Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Assessing memory and thinking in stroke – it’s confusing

Dr Terry Quinn (Joint Stroke Association / CSO Senior Clinical Lecturer) has a clinical and research interest in post stroke cognitive decline. Supported by a Stroke Association Priority Program Grant he is pursuing a portfolio of work themed around how to assess cognition and mood in the Acute Stroke Unit. Terry will be sharing some of the findings from this and other work at the BGS Spring Meeting in Newcastle as part of a themed session on dementia. Terry tweets about all things cognitive @DrTerryQuinn and in his role as Coordinating editor of the Cochrane Dementia Group @cochraneDCIG

Specialist societies, clinical guidelines and audit standards all encourage us to assess cognition when patients present with stroke. Intuitively this seems like a sensible idea. We know that patients fear problems with memory and thinking more than they fear physical disability and we know that cognitive problems are extremely common in the post stroke period. What is less clear is how we should assess cognition in stroke. Continue reading

Unchain me: how our approach to safety leads to harm

Professor Joseph Ibrahim is Head, Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University’s Department of Forensic Medicine and the Clinical Director of Geriatric, Rehabilitation and Palliative Care Medicine, at a large regional health service in Australia. Joseph has a keen interest in promoting better care for older people and edits the Communiqués printed educational material designed for health professionals to learn from cases investigated by the Coroners Court. Learn more about Joseph on his personal website.

Joseph and the team recently completed a landmark Australian study published in Age and Ageing, examining deaths due to physical restraint of people living in nursing homes. The study found that five deaths were recorded in nursing home residents due to physical restraint over the 13-year period. The median age of the residents who died was 83 years; all residents had impaired mobility and had restraints applied for falls prevention; four had diagnosed dementia. The mechanism of harm and cause of death were ascertained by a forensic pathologist following autopsy and in all cases, were formulated as ‘neck compression and entrapment by the restraints’. Continue reading

‘Five a day’ keep dementia away, say researchers

fruit-and-vegHaving at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily might help prevent dementia in older adults according to a study published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, followed the cognitive status of 17,700 dementia-free older adults for 6 years. The objective was to investigate whether those consuming at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits daily, in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation, were at a lower risk of developing dementia. Continue reading