Reviewing and refreshing the Enhancing the Healing Environment Assessment Tools

What are the tools?

As outlined in a previous blog, The King’s Fund developed a suite of assessment tools for staff and people affected by dementia to use to see how dementia friendly the design of their care setting is and identify areas where improvements could be made. The suite comprises five tools for use in care homes, health centres, hospitals, housing and wards. Each tool follows a similar format for consistency, comprising sections covering topics such as ‘The environment encourages eating and drinking’ and ‘The environment promotes orientation. Each section contains a rationale to explain why the topic is important, and a series of questions focusing on specific aspects of the environment.

Why did they need reviewing?

Although the tools were developed in collaboration with NHS Trusts participating in the Enhancing the Healing Environment programme and informed by research evidence and best practice, they have not been revised since their launch in 2014. As understanding and guidance changes over time, a review and refresh was required to ensure that the tools include up-to-date information and reflect current best practice, including the revised PLACE assessments for hospitals in England.

What did you do during the review?

The review consisted of several separate stages during late 2019 and early 2020, as described below.

  • Literature review – the process began with a review of new and existing literature to gather relevant guidance and advice relating to environmental design for people with dementia. This was compared against the tools to identify potential gaps or outdated information.
  • Online survey – users of the existing tools were invited to complete a short online survey and provide information on how they currently used the tools, how they thought they could be improved in the future, and anything they thought was missing from them.
  • Teamwork – a small team within ADS used an iterative process to incorporate any new information and streamline the existing content where necessary.
  • Testing – although hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, draft versions of the revised tools were reviewed and tested by practitioners in their care settings to ensure that they were still appropriate and usable, and made sense in practice.
  • Final tweaking – feedback from the testing was used to make final adjustments to the tools.

As a result of this thorough process multiple changes have been made to the wording of all of the tools and some additional questions have been added, but at first glance these may not be immediately apparent. The overall format and style have not been altered so if you’ve used the tools in the past they will still be familiar to you, but hopefully now the content provides a clear and comprehensive reflection of current understanding around dementia friendly design. We’ve written an article exploring the review process in greater detail, which is awaiting publication. Interested parties, keep an eye out and we’ll keep you updated about this.

How can I access the refreshed tools?

You can access the new tools in exactly the same way as the previous version. Simply go to our website and click on the link as prompted.

You will be asked to provide some basic details before being able to get a copy of the tools, but this is simply to help us see how and where the tools are being used. The tools remain free to download.

So go and have a look, download copies of the refreshed tools and carry out your own assessments to see how dementia friendly your care setting is. You can also access the bibliography used to inform the 2020 tools.

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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