Dr Richard Oakley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said: “As the biggest charitable funder of dementia care research in the UK, we fund research not only to find treatments for dementia, but also to improve care today, hoping to improve quality of life, make it easier to get support after diagnosis, and develop training for homecare workers.
“Through our Accelerator programme, we are working with our partners to bring three innovative products to the market. HUG, an interactive comforter, is designed to be cuddled by people with advance dementia – its weighted limbs and simulated heartbeat provide the calming sensation of giving and receiving a hug. Sibstar is a pre-paid debit card for people living with dementia, allowing them to remain financially independent and able to access day-to-day money safely. Konnect by Kraydel offers video calling through the TV, using a simplified interface to allow people with dementia to bring their loved ones into the heart of their living rooms.
“Alzheimer’s Society funded research into ‘namaste care’ – a holistic type of care for people with advanced dementia which focuses on the person rather than the process. It involves a range of physical, sensory and emotional approaches and is incorporated into all aspects of daily life – it could mean giving someone a bath for the enjoyment of this activity rather than just as a process to get someone clean. The approach was trialled in care homes, and the researchers measured a significant improvement in quality of life, with reports of increased alertness, awareness, communication, fluid intake and weight gain.
Liz Jones, Policy Director at the National Care Forum focuses on other essential areas:
As the voice of the not for profit care & support sector, the National Care Forum has been working hard to support high quality care for people with dementia, especially during the pandemic. Some of the key lessons learnt from the experience of COVID-19 have been to recognise the importance of the design of services, both physical design of care settings and models of care settings.
The pandemic has highlighted the value of the ‘household model’ of design, inspired by the De Hogeweyk dementia village model; the model (adopted, for example by NCF members such as WCS Care and Belong) offers person-centred support, combining health and social care, to older people with dementia in specially-designed, small, homelike environments, within a community setting. The smaller households with their own communal facilities and dedicated staff teams have helped to manage strict infection prevention control measures, while easy access to secure, enjoyable outside space has helped during the myriad restrictions in place.
As part of the NCF’s support for the sector, we have recently run 2 sector wide webinars dedicated to supporting our members and other care providers with the care of people with dementia during pandemic, one focussed on design and one focussed on practical advice for care during COVID. Our Caring in COVID ebook captures an important part of the legacy of the COVID pandemic, recording and highlighting how our NCF members and the communities they serve, came together and rose to the challenge to support those who most needed help, including those with dementia.
Our Hubble Project highlighted the importance of technology enabled care, both in terms of keeping people connected with their loved ones via virtual platforms and family portals in care planning systems as well as boosting the quality of care with access to real time data and intelligence on the health and wellbeing of the people using care services.
Pre- pandemic, and even more importantly during the pandemic, the value and power of music in support and care for people with dementia is being increasingly recognised. The NCF is delighted to be partners with Music for Dementia, who are leading a campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the role of music in dementia care and make sure that everyone living with dementia has access to music as part of their care from diagnosis to end of life, whatever their age, social or economic status. We are also helping to celebrate the first birthday of their dedicated radio station m4dradio!
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of joining the NCF you can find out more here: https://www.nationalcareforum.org.uk/membership-benefits/
DirectCareHub’s Mathias Edoh is planning in the near future to share some of their software integration ideas with the National Care Forum and Alzheimers Society, so we can play our part in these impressive innovations