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  • IN DEPTH: How to provide outstanding dementia care

    Theresa McNally, Creative Practice Manager at specialist dementia care provider, Vida Healthcare, discusses how care providers can offer outstanding care, with a focus on dementia care provision…

    Although more  care home operators are delivering a good and even outstanding level of care to their residents, there’s still much work to be done if we’re to achieve a national and consistent level of outstanding care provision, both generally and for specialist dementia care.

    As Covid-19 leaves many serious implications in its wake, the UK’s health and care services continue to be overstretched and often underskilled which can lead to difficulties in effectively caring for our elderly population.

    Providing outstanding care relies on a number of factors both during and beyond a pandemic. A well designed care home, flexible care, and passionate, committed, and compassionate staff who really value the health and wellbeing of the people they care for.

    Providing outstanding care 

    From the point of view of care, it makes sense to support people with similar needs and to ensure the right people are employed to offer appropriate and consistent levels of care and support to individuals. An environment should also be provided that not only meets current care needs, but is able to progress with individuals as they move through their care  journey. In terms of care homes, assigning designated teams to different areas can encourage specialisms to develop amongst staff.

    As people progress through their care journey, particularly for those living with dementia, their needs will change but the requirement for suitable care and enrichment doesn’t diminish. Everyone needs purpose and fun experiences to maintain a meaningful life, therefore all care should take this into account. However it’s important to make sure the right entertainment is being delivered for each individual.

    Care home operators and their staff need to be adaptable and able to reflect the needs of the individual they’re interacting with at the time. This is crucial to ensure outstanding care is provided which is person-centred and flexes to the needs of each resident, no matter the level of care they require.

    Insight and understanding into what it might be like for care home residents is crucial, including up-to-date learning and an understanding of any symptoms and experiences. This will enable staff to deliver care in a sympathetic and effective way, and make it easier for them to connect with each resident.

    Building an outstanding care home

    Care home design is crucial in ensuring residents are happy, healthy and have a good quality of life. When designing and building a home, consider the needs of the people who will be living there during the design process, rather than just the building as a whole. This will ensure the right care can be given to the right people at the right time, as good design can impact people’s lives in a number of positive ways.

    Care homes which feel like a home and offer a level of service beyond traditional care are much more likely to deliver outstanding care. A range of facilities can also create a feeling of homeliness, which gives residents different destinations and activities to keep them busy and occupied. This can include cinemas, hairdressers, and coffee shops.

    This will also provide a level of continued normalcy which is vital, particularly when an individual has just moved to a care home or is living with dementia.

    A care home which has been designed with staff and residents in mind will have numerous opportunities for staff to socialise with residents and build strong bonds, which are particularly important when family members are unable to visit as during the pandemic.

    The surroundings of a well designed care home will also support care providers in generating a positive workplace environment and workplace culture for staff, all of which will lead to low turnover, and high recruitment rates.

    Providing outstanding support for staff

    Providing opportunities for career development is very important, and encourages staff  to consider social care as a career rather than just a job. This also drives passion when it comes to caring for society’s most vulnerable people, and ensures staff are committed to delivering best practice and learning new skills.

    Investment in career opportunities will inspire more people to become interested in a role within social care, and make current carers feel supported in their ambitions. Showing compassion and interest in the personal development of employees will create a positive workplace culture and working environment which retains existing staff and attracts new talent.

    While investment in career development and opportunities is important, the mental health of carers is also vitally important. Investment in mental health initiatives will ensure the health and wellbeing of staff is easier to maintain, give staff more time to interact with the people they care for on a personal level, and reduce pressures.

    The health and wellbeing of staff must be protected, and care home operators can also regularly deliver up-to-date training and insight to ensure the workforce is as effective as possible. Consider that if the workforce isn’t managed and looked after, how can they provide good-quality care to residents?

    Looking forward

    Care home operators can provide outstanding care by challenging the care they are currently delivering, and why it’s being delivered to ensure that residents’ wellbeing is protected and enhanced.

    Outstanding care is about self-awareness, training and education, and challenging ourselves to try and empathise with care home residents. If we understand how they feel, it’s easier to deliver the level of care and compassion they require.

    Coronavirus and the changes that have followed have meant that providing outstanding care in care homes has become increasingly challenging. Care home operators can work together to develop a culture of learning amongst staff, greater understanding of the role of the care home environment, and how to deliver outstanding care.

    Although challenges have been faced during the pandemic, we’ve also seen many leaps forward which have revolutionised how care is delivered. We must take advantage of the progression we’ve made during the pandemic, and ensure it doesn’t slow to ensure more care home operators are able to deliver outstanding care.

    For more information, please visit www.vidahealthcare.co.uk 

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