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Newly-funded research to focus on rights of people with dementia

Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Laurels Lodge Care Home, run by Four Seasons Health Care is to join forces for a year-long initiative into relationship-centred care for people living with dementia, as part of a Life Changes Trust funding award.

The two organisations, will be working with NHS Grampian and the University of the West of Scotland(UWS), documenting best practice for other care homes throughout the UK.

The project will draw on the organisation’s experience as a leading contributor to advances in best practice in dementia care over recent years, which have achieved measurable improvements in the wellbeing and quality of life for residents with the condition.

Jill Will, a lecturer from RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, spoke about working on the project, saying: “Sometimes the human rights of residents living with dementia can be overlooked. It is therefore vital that we ensure that their rights are respected at all times – with this in mind, we are looking forward to collaborating with the staff at Laurels Lodge. Together we will work on an appreciative inquiry (AI) approach, which will focus on what works well as part of Four Seasons’ dementia care approach and identifies strategies on how to capture, understand and translate these strengths to further benefit the lives of residents nationwide, with a particular focus on anticipatory care planning.”

Dr Claire Royson, Group Medical Director at Four Seasons Health Care, said: “Our dementia care begins by working with the resident and their family, and health and social care professionals as appropriate, to gain an understanding of their care needs, their life story, their interests, likes and dislikes, preferences and how they would like to be supported while in the home. This understanding helps the care team to provide care that is personalised. The team at Laurels Lodge are accredited to provide our new generation of dementia care, known as the Dementia Care Framework. This uses purpose-designed technology to support them to audit each resident’s physical, psychological and emotional condition so that care can be adjusted to their changing needs. Their training included a simulated experience of what it’s like to live with the sensory and cognitive impairments of dementia, which improves their understanding and empathy.” The Care Inspectorate rates Laurels Lodge as 5 (very good) for quality of care and support. It is rated 9.7 out of a possible 10 on the review site

The project is part of a Life Changes Trust award of £135,000, which has been awarded to a number of care homes across Scotland, to fund work into improving the lives and experiences of residents. It will run from November 2018 to October 2019 and aims to inform best practice across the country – with the experiences and views of residents and their families being central to shaping this.

The Life Changes Trust was set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people.

Last year, the Scottish Government published Scotland’s new Health and Social Care Standards, which encouraged providers to think about what really matters to people who receive services, rather than focusing on ticking boxes.

Each of the funded projects will be designed to show how these standards work in practice, demonstrating how to treat residents with real respect and dignity.

Professor Catriona Kennedy, QNIS Professor of Community Nursing at RGU, added: “This is exactly the kind of collaborative research that our School is determined to undertake and we hope that our work with a leading care home such as Laurels Lodge will go on to become a stellar example for others across the country.”

Julia Wells, Nurse Consultant and Clinical Director at NHS Grampian, said: "We are delighted that our older adult mental health services are working in partnership with RGU, UWS and Laurels Lodge Care Home. “A rights based approach to caring for people with dementia is essential where achieving person-centred care. We hope that the successes learnt from this project can be used to inform clinical practice in other areas both locally and nationally."

Professor Belinda Dewar, Professor of Practice Improvement with the University of the West of Scotland, said:  “We are delighted to be involved in this exciting new project which will build on our already strong relationships with Life Changes Trust and Robert Gordon University. Through this project we will work closely with care home residents and those who support them to develop a human rights based approach to advanced care planning.

“We are aiming to create an enriched care environment where older people with dementia and staff and families who support them experience a sense of security, belonging, continuity, purpose, achievement and significance.”

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