Friday saw my last trundle of the year. It was to a place I love going – Bradford University. I love being involved in anything there, as the staff and processes are perfectly set up for people with dementia. It also meant I’d be seeing my lovely friends Sandra and Barbara.
It was a very cold but beautifully sunny start to the day. The calm before the storm if I believe the weather forecasters……
I was meeting my fellow Alzheimer’s Society `Research Network volunteers, Sandra and Barbara for a cuppa and catch up in the lovely café at the Uni first. When I arrived the 2 had become five as Viv and Geoffrey were also there😊 We accosted one of the students to take a piccie by the Christmas tree…..
We arrived upstairs to find Murna and co with a hot meal of curry and rice waiting for us and a lovely festive table even though we were there to work
It was a lovely way too start the afternoon and we were soon joined by the other panel members of Sandra and Sue…..
We had the gorgeous lunch and catch ups with everyone.
Barbara is the chair and thanked everyone for coming as it’s such an important meeting as it’s the end of the three long project. “It’s lovely to make good friends” and over 3 years you inevitably make good friends.
Barbara continued to say, “At the time I didn’t think the way I do now” as in this project there’s been a lot of empowerment going on. Care assistants have been empowered by this project to care better. The staff have been empowered by the project to work better.
We’d been invited for a final time in order to comment on the end of project report and in particularly, the Lay Summary and the part played by our involvement. The primary audience for the report will be academics who are the founders at National Institute for Health Research.
So Murna and Kathryn gave us a recap of the actual project… Many people end up in hospital from Residential Homes unnecessarily – if action had been taken several weeks earlier, they could detect the signs earlier and deal with the problem before there was a need for hospital admission – The study had 3 elements, the Stop and Watch Tool, Care Assistant then alert nurse who investigates, who then communicate the findings to Primary Care.
The bonus for this research is that the elements were being implemented as part of the research. There were 2 Nurse Champions in each home who were supported in implementing the change.
That was the ambition, ……….the reality was the care home found it complex.
The key question to ask was ‘Will they use the intervention and is it feasible to use’?
The good relationships built with the care homes enabled excellent information to be retrieved by the research teams.
Interesting information was gained around the use of the tool – the Stop and Watch Tool was used in some cases but many enthused that it was now all in their head so no need to use the tool as a recording method.🙈
Manager buy in, as usual had a big impact on whether the Care Home Champions had support to carry out their role. Some may have thought they follow certain protocols already but they had no means of proving it, whereas the research team were giving them the Stop and Watch tool as a way of evidence of use.
Implementation of any change process takes lots of time and resources.
“A real window into Care Home culture” said Sandra of the report.
For me, the study has empowered care home staff and given them permission to think and to think they can help residents. But without backing from managers it wouldn’t work.
The ENRICH project has encouraged research into Care Homes but the fluidity of staff, owners and care homes makes it a very unstable environment. But many now use being ‘research active’ in their brochures to show they’re taking part in research and demonstrate they’re willing to learn and change.
Some said they loved using stop and watch but when asked, it’s all in their minds. We need the CQC to ask for evidence of prevention of hospital admissions – recorded evidence. For the care assistants and domestics it’s opened up a whole new role for these people who have most face to face.
Care Homes get penalised for sending people to hospital unnecessarily in America. I always get so edgy when ‘penalizing’ is mentioned. I think it’s the culture that needs changing as penalizing often has the opposite impact on what your’e trying to achieve as it hides the problem.
In this country, the hospital makes the savings if residents aren’t hospitalised but it costs the care home more to put in practices to keep people out of the hospital.
Sandra highlighted the fact that the Stop and Watch tool would be so useful for family members…….some staff in care home still held the view that family members have no role to play in early detection, 😳when in fact they can be key as they know the person best and could be the person who spends most personal time with them in some circumstances.
But I highlighted that we mustn’t forget those whose family don’t visit them – who looks out to make sure their care is good care? This simply highlights the complexity of Care Homes and the need to ‘care’ for everyone.
This isn’t a dementia specific study, but for staff to use eyes and ears so any resident should benefit.
So many interesting finding have come out of this project, some not surprising, others quite shocking, so let’s hope they get the funding needed for a bigger trial.
It felt like the end of term as me Sandra and Barbara walked down the hill to the station. It was lovely to have the last event of the year with all such nice people and all was going swimmingly to get home as planned……..until…….I arrived in Hull…….where my last train home was cancelled🙈…….it meant I had to get a taxi from Hull, but at least I had a lovely taxi driver.
As we chattered about this that and everything, it turned out he knew Pontefract, where I lived most of my childhood and even the roads nearby our house. We shared lots of stories of the coal mine and generally put the world to rights but finally, after a long 30-40 minute journey, I was finally home…..😴