Crossing the Line

One of our new projects that’s getting underway is ‘Crossing the Line’, which is looking at getting a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by family carers when providing personal care for people living with dementia. The 18-month project has been funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and brings together a host of co-applicants and project partners to ensure it reflects a range of different perspectives.

What is personal care?

Personal care can include a variety of different activities such as helping with going to the toilet, washing, bathing, dressing, mouth-care, shaving, haircare, foot and nail-care. Family carers that support people with dementia have reported that the issue of personal care is very important to them, though research has shown that little is known about it in the context of dementia and family care.

Family carers can face challenges adapting to the change in role that providing personal care brings, and this is worsened by lack of skills, know-how, shame and embarrassment. As a person’s dementia progresses, they may be increasingly unaware of their need for help or the impact it has on their family. This in turn can lead to high levels of distress, causing physical and emotional harm both to themselves and their family carer. The challenges around personal care are often a tipping point for the person living with dementia to move into a care home. 

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Getting ready for the academic year

With August rapidly disappearing, we’re putting the finishing touches to our Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies modules which will be running from September. They’ve all run before, so it’s mainly a case of making a few tweaks based on student feedback and adding in any new information to keep them current. It’s not too late to enrol if you’re interested in studying with us (or get ahead of the game and get sorted early for a January start!), and don’t forget you can sign up for a single module before making a decision about whether to do the full Postgraduate Certificate. So what can you study?

Starting in September

  • MDEM4001 Person-Centred Leadership: The VIPS Approach – Nicola Jacobson-Wright will be leading this module, and this is the mandatory module if you’re doing the full PGCert. On this module Nicola will be focusing on the development of the students’ leadership skills to critically analyse service provision for people living with dementia from the perspective of the person living with dementia, and how they can lead services to work better from this perspective.
  • MDEM4004 Supporting People Living with Advanced Dementia – On this module, Mary Bruce will be encouraging students to consider the important aspects of care planning and approaches to support relevant to the care of people living with advanced dementia. Students will consider the utility of identifying and defining advanced dementia and consider the ways in which this impacts upon the person, their family, health and social care professionals and other agencies delivering support.
  • MDEM4005 Enabling Environments for People Living with Dementia – Led by Teresa Atkinson, this module will help students understand how opportunities and constraints in any given environment can impact on people with dementia is important to supporting well-being and the citizenship of people living with dementia regardless of where they reside. This module examines the creation of dementia friendly communities, enabling environments in the home and health care settings, as well as the contribution of the person-environment fit to well-being, autonomy and preservation of self and identity.
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Everyone brings something to the Meeting Centre

The June webinar was held at a slightly earlier time than normal due to the University of Worcester graduation ceremony for three of our PhD students, but that didn’t stop a good group of us getting together to hear directly from people with dementia and their family carers about their experiences of Meeting Centres.

In her welcome, Professor Dawn Brooker reminded everyone that the Meeting Centre ethos puts members and family carers at their heart, and aims to help them adjust to the changes that dementia brings. When this session was originally planned as part of a face-to-face conference, the intention had been to support people who attend Meeting Centres to involved in person and share their experiences. While current conditions mean that we’d had to do everything online, we still hoped to be able to capture a flavour of that input in this webinar.

The UK Meeting Centre Support Programme has been supported by two key organisations to ensure that the views of people with dementia and family carers are captured and represented in our research. The first organisation is Innovations in Dementia, represented by Damian Murphy, who supports Dory Davies and Dreane Williams to be part of the project’s National Reference Group. As Dreane was not able to be part of the webinar, her thoughts were shared by Damian. The second organisation is Together in Dementia Everyday, represented by Ruth Eley who was sharing the thoughts of family carer Ann Caldwell, while a second carer George Grindlay was part of the webinar.

The webinar took the form of a discussion with questions posed by Dawn, and the following attempts to capture an overview of the points discussed. We highly recommend watching the recording of the session as it’s far more powerful to hear what was said in people’s own words.

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Dementia in the family context – a new online option to study with us

As thoughts for many move to Christmas lists and New Year resolutions, you may recall reflections past that made you want to develop personally, push your abilities and expand your knowledge. This has been an extraordinary year for family carers and the effects of the pandemic will be a thread within our upcoming Dementia in the Family Context module starting in January 2021 (closing date November 30th 2020). If you have an appetite for more than mince pies, why not take a look?

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A Conversation with…

A Conversation with…Tracey Williamson, Graham Galloway, Sue Hinds, Hannah Sweeney and Dr Shirley Evans

Empowered Conversations have been organising a series of weekly webinars during lockdown, and the last one before the summer break took place on 22nd July. In a slightly different format from normal, this webinar comprised Emma Smith from Empowered Conversations chairing a panel of professionals who have been ‘Shifting support for families affected by dementia from face-to-face to virtual support’.

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Dementia Carers Count Professor of Family Care in Dementia blog

This week Professor Tracey Williamson has kindly shared her thoughts about her experiences at this time:

In this blog I thought I’d share what a professor gets up to when working from home during a pandemic. The phone has not rung this morning so I am clearly not to be furloughed – am I the only person that had to quickly Google that word last month? Being permitted to carry on working is a blessing as things have never been busier. There are of course unexpected opportunities to assist the COVID-19 pandemic through research, so I have facilitated some hugely useful discussions with others about what research could best help those living with dementia and their families, during this crisis in the immediate term, middle and longer term. Our priority areas embrace two of our strengths relating to person-centred care research and studies with care homes and retirement settings. So bidding is the order of the day today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable few weeks.

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Wear to Care: A person-centred exploratory study of care staff clothing in care homes for people living with dementia

We’ve just started a new project looking at uniforms, so thought we’d let you know a bit more about it.

Why are we looking at uniforms?

While most care home staff wear uniforms at work, an ambition to make care homes feel less formal has led some organisations to remove uniforms from their care homes. There is also a body of opinion that uniforms create an ‘us & them’ barrier between staff and residents, and having everyone in normal clothing creates a more friendly atmosphere with less of a power imbalance.

Conversely, many staff feel their uniform gives them a sense of professionalism and that residents find it more reassuring to receive personal care from someone in uniform. There are also costs associated with wearing one’s own clothes to work. Some families like the non-uniform style while others find it confusing not being able to immediately identify a member of staff. Additionally, badges are part of a uniform and can also help with identification, but corporate logos can often take priority over a person’s name.

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Let’s talk about sex!

That got your attention! This week’s blog is written by April Dobson from Hallmark Care Homes, who is a member of the HDRC Steering Group. Over to you April…

Hallmark Care Homes logo

I have discovered that announcing that you’d like to talk about sex and intimacy is a fool-proof way of encouraging attendance at workshops. That being said, it’s a topic that people find quite difficult to discuss, particularly in relation to older people living with dementia in care homes, and in the main, it’s because there are so many aspects that cause anxiety and worry. Where on earth do you start?

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Inaugural Professorial Lecture

In November 2019 our own Tracey Williamson, Dementia Carers Count Professor of Family Care gave her inaugural professorial lecture here at the University of Worcester. Here she reflects on her lecture, so over to you Tracey…

It was a huge privilege to give my inaugural professorial lecture at the end of my first year working at the Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester.  My goal was to entertain and inform a sizable group of people with all levels of prior knowledge about research and dementia. The topic was my career path, recent activities as a new professor and plans for the future of my role, with a focus on family care.

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Reflecting on 2019 – celebrating success

As 2019 rapidly draws to an end (How did that happen? I’m sure it was only May a few weeks ago!) we’re taking a brief pause to look back at some of the highlights* from the past year. Projects ending, projects starting, new education ventures, articles, conferences, special occasions and awards, 2019 has had it all.

* There’s been a lot going on this year and we don’t have time to mention it all, so apologies to anyone who feels we’ve missed something out!

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