Devon Care Home Teams Annual Conference….

Together Towards Tomorrow……

I’m  glad I ventured into this unfamiliar world, not only because I was talking to new people but also because I learnt so much. A very long blog but as you’ll see an awful lot of stuff you may be unfamiliar with…….

So my busy week continued on World Alzheimers Day on Friday with a conference I’d never attended before – a Care Home Conference. However, I don’t make things easy for myself and this one was at the other end of the country in Barnstaple Devon.

Anyway I’d made my way down from the Birmingham conference to Barnstaple via WALES, which I wasn’t expecting 😳…….but the fact that every other passenger was looking worried was a comfort and, once again, I had my lovely Twitter friends reassuring me it was due to work on the tracks.

I finally arrived many hours later to a dark very wet Barnstaple but Becky was there to drive to my next hotel for the night. Someone showed me to my room and I was met by a lovely surprise…..Becky had already reccied my room and left me a box of `Yorkshire tea, Devon scones and post it notes!! Not only that but she’d covered my black TV screen with a red pillow case…….thoughtful beyond belief…..😍

After breakfast the next morning, Becky arrived to pick me up along with Sharon, who was also a speaker, along with a huge teddy donated for the raffle – I didn’t dare buy a ticket in case I won him and had to get him home too!

I was up first and spoke for 45 minutes including this:

I wonder how many of you always sleep on the same side of the bed? Most people do. But when you’re in hospital, or you’re moved into a Care Home people are often helped into bed at whichever side is convenient for the nurse – imagine how confusing that can be for someone with dementia.”

They were so warm in their applause, appreciation and comments afterwards. One couple where the husband lives with dementia, said that through my talk she’d found ways to overcome the frustrations for her husband. We chatted for ages over a cuppa which was wonderful. Always nice to meet new playmates.

After me was Sexual Intimacy in Care Home by Dawne Garret from the Royal College of nursing.

Sex is a subject healthcare professionals in care home have problem discussing. Dawne said, older people are sometimes just waiting for you to ask – for example, the side effects of some medication might affect the ability to have sex but is so often not highlighted.

A sexual experience doesn’t have to mean the physical act. When older people were asked for their meaning of sex, the answers given by older people were ‘Being close, cuddling, kissing, music and dancing. The courtship of older people, often the most unchaperoned relationship you had with a potential partner would be around dancing, so for many people, music and dancing are something sexual.
This will disappear with the next generation as that wasn’t part of their life. So interesting and rarely highlighted.

She asked the audience to raise a hand if their residents were able to share a bed with their partners and I couldn’t see any raised hands……..Dawne said this was very common…….☹️

She gave a case study of 2 residents who had begun a sexual relationship and they both consented to this. But the male says the staff must under no circumstances tell his wife who visits him every week.

She asked what questions they should be asking……

They asked about mental capacity and both residents had mental capacity to consent
Someone asked if he was a persistent philanderer But they don’t have the right to impose own morals but they do have to recognise its affect on care
Sexual health regarding sexual transmitted diseases should be addressed as the increase in the over 60s has shot up.
Sexual health clinics are often tucked away in inaccessible places to older people. The language is often very different from that used by older people. Sooo interesting…….

Older people often think they have no risk because they can’t get pregnant so so they must have support and advice about sexual diseases.

The legislation around sex is very ambiguous as no judge wants to touch it. The guidance the RCN has written was written with the help of a barrister with an interest in Human Rights. “Best Interest’ doesn’t work for sex – you can’t make a judgement on anyone about sex or marriage.
Discussion with the team needs to happen. This threw up an awful lot of concerns .The first duty of care is the resident.
It showed how prepared staff need to be around this and highlighted the fact that the next generation will be quite demeaning and know their rights.

Staffs cultural moral views must be supported yet the prime driver is the residents RIGHTs……but the exploration of the intricacies and issues raised was wonderful.
When you also take in same sex marriages, LGBT community who worry about entering a care home, those with a history of sexual abuse, those having committed crimes of a sexual nature, you can see what a minefield it is.

She was wonderfully open and a fascinating talk. Fascinating controversial subject that I imagine is often swept under the carpet or ignored in many situations. It’s so important for owners and managers in care homes to give staff support and guidance on coping with these sensitive situations. The family’s also need to be supported.

Google RCN Care Home journey and the guidance is there.

During the break I sold all the books I had and could have sold many more. It was so sad not to have some for all people who wanted them but my suitcase was only so big and I did have to make room for clothes and Yorkshire tea bags!

Sharon from the Queens Nursing Institute was up after the break. `They’re based at the Royal College of Nursing. They set Standards’s for Education and Practice.
She spoke about the Queen’s Nurse Title. She told community nurses in the room to think about becoming the Queens Nurse. They can applying free for a leadership programme.

Sharon has been immersed in Care Home work for the last 18 months.

She found how care staff in care home are paid less than those who look after our rubbish…..says it all really how undervalued care home staff are.
She has written a publication for nurses on Transition to Care Home Nursing. It was the most difficult piece she’s had to write. Do they have the skills to be a nurse in a Care Home?

Nurses feel isolated in care homes and have to make high level decisions alone. There are few leaders and national role models in Care Home nursing and poor integration with the NHS. As with many organisations she found communication was a nightmare.

Sharon gave a lovely quote for me for care homes nurses :

Appreciate the Artistry of your craft”.

The Deputy Director of Nursing then spoke about recruitment and retention. The Nursing associate role is a new role and they’ve been looking at what the role should look like to fill certain gaps. She’d brought along a Health Care assistant who was undertaking this role. It opens up conversations about looking at skill mixes slightly differently and how this role might be used in the Care Home setting.
Helena, a trainee Nurse associate then spoke about being involved in the pilot. Helena is nearly at the end of her training and says she feels, “so proud” to have shown how her skills have shown what a valuable member of the nurse family associates could be.

It made me think whether these people, who may have become nurses before the degree course was born, yet weren’t academic, but are wonderfully caring. are now able to climb the ladder of their choice.🤔

3 more speakers before lunch

Firstly, Pathfinders is a multidisciplinary team who work at the front door and backdoor of the trust. At the front door they try to ensure those who don’t need to be admitted to hospital aren’t admitted and at back door work with the most complex patients around discharge.

Then Peter Clifford through North Devon Hospital Libraries filled everyone in on the resources available at the library and the changes that have taken place.

Finally it was Ruth Morgan who spoke to them about distance learning and learning from home and what’s available.

Over lunch many people came over to chat but one professional from the local Memory Clinic arrived and people told him to talk to me. He asked me:

‘Considering our time limitation on delivering diagnosis, what should I concentrate on?”

He expected me to talk about the detail so was surprised when I simply said,

The language you use”…….

I went onto to say something I said in my talk about the psychological effect of language should never be underestimated and how that, along with body language, should be used to deliver a diagnosis positively……

The lightbulbs shone bright and clear. I just hope he takes it into practice……

After lunch I think the previous days chaos was catching up on me and I was just staring and sometimes listening but not typing. But I enjoyed tha Heads and Tail game to wake everyone up after lunch.. Everyone put in £1 and stood up and put their hands on their heads or tail. Someone tossed a coin and those that lost sat down. It went on until the final 2 and whoever was left standing, won. What a great simple quick fun money raiser – must use this at all our events to raise funds!

Today I learnt so much that I hadn’t heard before. Obviously I won’t remember much at all if anything, but I loved sitting and listening to different yet invaluable stuff, listening to different healthcare professionals, from different environments ……

Sooooo worth all the chaos and traumas of getting there – loved it because of its difference……..

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

5 thoughts on “Devon Care Home Teams Annual Conference….

  1. Wendy-I am a home hospice rn in the US. I found your book to be the most informative book I’ve read about the subject. Thank you and I will continue to follow your journey through your blog. Pamela

    Liked by 1 person

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