On a very wet Tuesday we gathered at the University of Worcester Arena to celebrate the findings from the Namaste Care project that we’ve been working on for the past three years (well done to everyone who made it through the terrible travel conditions to join us!).
Professor Dawn Brooker opened the event by thanking everyone who made the project possible, before Joyce Simard – the creator of Namaste Care – shared her experiences of developing the approach in the United States of America. Her desire to improve quality of life for people with dementia in care homes and give them “a reason to get up” really came through.
Isabelle Latham, the project manager, presented the process used for developing the UK project-specific version of Namaste Care (termed Namaste Care Intervention UK), which had multiple parts to it:
- A literature review to explore the different activities and components within Namaste Care and the evidence behind them
- A survey of existing Namaste Care practitioners to find out what was actually taking place in the UK and what barriers people were facing
- Exploring the training and support needs not just of care home staff involved in delivering Namaste Care but also those who would be collecting data for the research part of the project
From this process three aspects came out as being important to the Namaste Care Intervention UK:
- Creating the right atmosphere for the session. Lighting, aroma, background sounds and visual stimulation, and having a clear beginning and end to a session all add to the overall ambience
- Considering what goes on in a session. Giving people the chance to explore different tastes, textures and sensations by considering physical comfort, engaging with nature, and using expressive touch, food and drink, and tactile stimulation
- The additional components for engaging individuals where appropriate. Using individual music or aromas, sort toys or dolls, involving families, significant items for residents, and using existing sensory rooms or equipment if available
Following on from this, Nicola Jacobson-Wright talked us through the training and support package provided to the participating care homes as part of the project. This covered understanding the fundamentals of Namaste Care as well as specific training for Namaste Care Workers, and flexible follow-up support that met the needs of the individual care homes. Fun ensued when Nicola initiated some experiential learning as we got to try out some aspects of Namaste Care by touching, smelling and tasting items provided in a goodie bag on each table.
We were privileged to host the premiere of the Namaste Care film ‘Seeing is Believing’ at the event. Introduced by its producer Sean Macreavy, the film captivated the audience and is an amazing legacy from the project. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a tear in my eye by the end of it!
The afternoon session was kicked off by Isabelle Latham who discussed the findings from the project, covering how data was collected from the care homes when they were delivering Namaste Care Intervention UK sessions, and what this data showed. A report of the findings will be release in the near future. This was followed by a presentation by Jennifer Bray on the costs of delivering Namaste Care Intervention UK, which can sometimes be a difficult topic to consider but is one that often gets overlooked.
The main focus of the afternoon was on the experiences of the five care homes who actually took part in the project. Despite some nerves, it was great to hear real life accounts from the staff members actually delivering Namaste Care Intervention UK in practice, finding out what they enjoyed, the challenges they faced and their exciting plans for the future. Although we can’t share all of the presentation from the day, we do encourage you to watch the film to see some powerful examples of their work. You can either watch the full version (approx. 22 minutes) or the short version (approx. 4 minutes).
Joining our Community of Practice will also enable you to access other outputs and resources from the project. So while the weather didn’t play ball, it didn’t dampen our spirits and everyone went away with new ideas and enthusiasm for implementing Namaste Care.