A suite of environmental assessment tools for health centres (also known as primary care centres/GP premises) has just been launched. These tools have been written by the Association for Dementia Studies for Assura plc who design, build and lease health centres across the UK.
Assura wanted to ensure that their health centres were supportive to people living with dementia, learning disability, autism and neurodiversity. It is thought that this is the first time work has been undertaken to look at the design features that are important to all these groups. The Patients Association and Dimensions, a charity that support people with learning disabilities and autism, provided reports on patients’ views of the health centre environment which for the first time confirmed how important the environment was to the patient experience and the delivery of high quality patient care.
We found through reviews of the literature and best practice that despite the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS taking place in health centres – at least in normal ‘non-Covid’ circumstances – little work has been undertaken to look at the design of these premises for patients including people living with dementia and other neurodiverse conditions.
The Covid-19 pandemic has drawn particular attention to the need for better use of outdoor spaces by everyone. Last Autumn the Association for Dementia Studies launched an environmental assessment tool for gardens which has proved a very popular addition to our suite of assessment tools. As part of this work we have now launched Making your garden dementia-friendly a free resource for people living at home with dementia, their carers and families.
We have just welcomed 14 students onto our module. In these early days it’s great to get together in the Collaborate Seminars to find out more about each other and make new connections. This is a fully online module, so the Collaborate Seminars are where we meet ‘face to face’ every fortnight.
So, what sort of things do we get up to on our module? Well, I thought I would give you a little peep into what our students have been doing.
There are currently (watch this space) five different environmental assessment tools to help you find out whether your health and care setting is dementia friendly, and they are available to download for free from our website. However, while we hope that they are intuitive and easy to use, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to provide a few pointers on how to use them in practice. Whether you’ve never used any of the tools before or you just want a bit of a refresher, we hope you find this blog helpful.
The Covid-19 pandemic has required a great many changes to be made to the environment in which we care for people. Some changes may be in place for a long time while other spaces may be returning to their pre-covid function, giving you an excellent opportunity to review how dementia friendly they really are.
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.
We’re all used to thinking about making different care settings dementia friendly, with assessment tools out there for care homes, wards, hospitals, health centres and housing amongst others. However, other less formal environments where people with dementia are likely to visit or take part in groups and activities can often be overlooked. We were therefore delighted to be asked by Worcester Community Foundation in partnership with Community First in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and the Malvern Dementia Action Alliance to develop a Guide and Checklist for Dementia Friendly Village Halls.
As it’s nearly Christmas we’ve decided not to have a formal blog this week. Instead we just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your support and interest, and we look forward to starting again in the New Year. We’ll try to keep our blogs varied and interesting, and keep you up to date with what we’re doing on our various projects. We’ve already got a few lined up so watch this space!
Just to give you a bit of an insight, our top three most popular posts have been:
We’ve recently had an article published in the Working with Older People journal relating to a project we carried out with the Housing and Dementia Research Consortium (HDRC) around green dementia care. Although the article provides a lot more information, we thought we’d give you an overview here, especially as not everyone knows much about green dementia care.
What is green dementia care?
Green dementia care, or nature-based dementia care, refers to indoor and outdoor experiences and activities that aim to promote health and wellbeing through interaction with nature for people living with dementia. However, many people living with dementia in care homes or extra care housing have limited opportunities to connect with the natural world, often due to organisational concerns about safety and security and outdoor spaces that are not fully accessible.
The environment in which we live and work impacts on our physical and psychological wellbeing. This impact can be positive and make us feel uplifted and comfortable, but it can also be negative. We know that for people with dementia an environment, be that the care home in which they live, their own home, or the dentist or doctor’s surgery they visit, can cause additional confusion and distress and have a significant detrimental effect on wellbeing.
So how do I know if the environment where I work is good for people with dementia?
Ok, so we’re cheating slightly as this post about the Care Fit for VIPS toolkit was originally written for the Bright Copper Kettles blog which is aimed primarily at Activity Coordinators, but it’s actually relevant for a wider range of people who are working with people with dementia and trying to provide high quality care.
I’m trying my best, but am I doing the right thing?
When you’re working with people with dementia it can often be difficult to take the time to step back and look at the care you provide with an objective eye. How can you tell what you are doing really well and where there is room for improvement? The range of resources, products and training courses available around dementia care can also be confusing and overwhelming, and it can take time to explore the different options. The Care Fit for VIPS toolkit was developed as a free online resource to take some of the hassle out of the whole process by helping care staff to self-assess what they’re doing and direct them to relevant resources.