Background Currently over 1400 deaths a year in Northern Ireland, directly attributable to dementia yet, to date, dementia is rarely considered within a palliative care context, with limited attention directed towards the person’s psychological, social, emotional and end of life needs or the support of their family carers. To address this need, Northern Ireland Hospice developed an innovative service (HEDP), based on collaborative working across voluntary and statutory organisations. This multi-component approach included: the development of dementia friendly hospice building; an enhanced hospice/dementia specialist team; a day hospice service for persons with dementia and their carers which provided opportunities for nurse specialist assessment, creative therapies to improve cognition and promote well-being for the person, and complementary therapy; development of education and learning through certificate programme in holistic dementia care.
HEDP has fostered the development of strong partnerships between participating organisations and has facilitated the cross-fertilisation of expertise. External practitioners and hospice staff have benefitted from integrating learning from mental health, palliative care and other areas of practice.
Aim To profile findings from the evaluation of the HEDP in terms of uptake, the experiences of carers, health and social care professionals, service commissioners and policy makers, and to highlight recommendations for service development, education and practice.
Methods Multiple methods: data collection including documentary record analysis, interviews, focus groups and analysis of reflective diary accounts. Ethical approval was secured. The evaluation was undertaken by researchers independent of the hospice. Descriptive statistical analysis with chart data and thematic analysis applied to qualitative data.
Results/conclusion Core findings from the evaluation process highlighted four main themes: (i)The impact of dementia, (ii)Value of service, (iii) Information and learning needs and (iv)Working in partnership, and has developed key recommendations for teams, commissioners and policy makers considering developing integrated approaches between palliative and dementia care.
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