I joined St Cuthbert’s Hospice as an Admiral Nurse in 2014. Many hospices have contacted us since to enquire about our work so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share what we have achieved so far.
We began with challenging the fear and stigma of dementia by raising awareness among all staff, from all departments, some becoming dementia friends and champions. A gentleman with dementia helped us with improved signage to reduce confusion and aid orientation throughout the building. We were talking about dementia more, seeing the person first, and bringing it into mandatory training for staff and volunteers. We built on compassion and confidence to care, embedding assessments which would impact on improved care outcomes and safety-specific tools for cognitive testing, pain, delirium and depression. We helped staff understand the difference between the 3 Ds – delirium, depression and dementia – and the importance of knowing this to provide the most appropriate intervention. We developed a delirium leaflet for patients and carers to help people understand what is happening to them when they are confused and how carers can help.
At the same time, we engaged with the community and all the other dementia care providers. Positive, collaborative relationships emerged, encouraging referrals and an understanding of what else is out there. If the hospice can’t help, who can? We provide telephone, website and face to face contact for carers of people with dementia, at all stages of the illness but more commonly in the moderate to late stages as things are changing and carers are hitting crisis points. We are developing a volunteer-led project, providing companionship to those with advanced dementia at home, looking at new ways of communicating as verbal skills are lost and we have plans for cognitive stimulation groups for people with mild to moderate dementia. Exciting times!
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