Epsom Hospital puts Care Charts at heart of dementia care

“I couldn’t possibly have hoped for a better result,” said Sue Cook, the Older Persons Assessment and Liaison for Dementia (OPAL) team leader at Epsom Hospital, part of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

We were meeting after their three month trial of the Twist-N-View Display Chart, which they are using to assist in the care of patients with a dementia diagnosis. They have chosen to insert a picture of a forget-me-not into the clear front pocket of the Care Chart, and have included the charts in their training programme so everyone from porters to consultants is aware of the significance of the bright blue flower, and that information about a patient can be found on the reverse.

“I was concerned that staff would see it as yet another task to be completed,” Sue continued. But very soon after the charts were introduced and families were encouraged to complete a chart for their relative, the positive comments started to flow.

“Nursing staff realised that the charts gave them the ability to engage much more quickly with a patient who might not be able to communicate reliably,” said Sue, “because information is immediately available to them, and it gives non-nursing staff like porters an opportunity to open a conversation with the patient, when before they wouldn’t have access to simple information like their favourite foods, or important people in their lives, what they do or did for a living.”

“We had one lady,” Sue continued, “who had nobody in the world, friend or family, and the only piece of information we managed to find out was that she had a cat called Penny. So that went on the chart, and it gave everyone interacting with her something they could talk about. And we sang happy birthday to another patient, because we saw his date of birth on his care chart. Of course, everyone’s date of birth is on their records, but that’s just seen as a bit of admin, whereas something written on the care chart is about the person, a reminder that, even if they can’t speak or do anything for themselves, they have history, family, things they love and hate, like the rest of us.”

The hospital is now rolling the charts out to more wards, with the ultimate aim of incorporating Care Charts into the daily life of every ward across the Trust.

Read about how Epsom Hospital is adopting care charts and other innovations to better care for people with dementia. Epsom Hospital News

To read about the results of trials in community hospitals click here.


Over 18,000 people requiring care now benefit from Care Charts

Map of care homes using care charts
Zoe Harris with a map of the UK showing where the award-winning Remember-I’m-Me Care Charts are being used.

PJ Care’s decision to introduce Remember-I’m-Me Care Charts into the daily life of their neurological care centres means that over 800 care homes and hospitals are now using these award-winning communication tools. Trials have demonstrated that Care Charts not only increase the quality of life of those being cared for, but can also provide peace of mind for their relatives, and boost staff morale.

“I first came across Zoe’s charts when she was nominated for the Innovation Award in the Great British Care Awards” explained Jan Flawn, Founding Chair of PJ Care. “I was made aware of them via one of the category judges and it struck me immediately what a simple yet effective idea this was. We pride ourselves on maximising the quality of life of each person we care for, so our staff members are highly trained and we have excellent staff / resident ratios, but it’s still difficult to be absolutely sure that every member of our team is aware of – and kept up-to-date with – a resident’s needs and preferences when communicating is a challenge. We chose the Twist-N-View version of the charts because they allow us to make key information instantly available whenever a staff member needs it, and keep it private when not being referred to.”

“The first Remember-I’m-Me Care Chart was designed to assist in the care of my husband,” explained Zoe Harris. “He spent his final 13 months living with advanced dementia in a care home, unable to communicate his needs and preferences. The care home recognised the importance of collecting information about an individual, but had no reliable method by which to ensure the information was made available to all carers and any other members of staff interacting with their residents. That first design is still popular, but I was aware that in certain environments it was difficult to hang the chart in a discreet manner, so we developed the Twist-N-View to address this issue.

“I’m very proud that prestigious care providers like PJ Care have recognised the value of these cost-effective and simple to use charts, and that they are having a beneficial impact on the quality of life of more than 18,000 people and their families, as well as helping to boost staff morale.”

PJ Care is a leading provider of specialist neurological care and neuro rehabilitation for people aged eighteen and over with progressive or acquired neurological conditions.

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When opportunities for pleasure are rare, food needs to be taken seriously.

There are increasing efforts to improve the quality of food in care homes, but if a resident cannot experience the taste or smell of what’s on offer, they are unlikely to be enthused about eating, however appetising it looks and whatever its nutritional value.

Research suggests that people living with Alzheimer’s Disease can still identify sweet and salty tastes, whereas their ability to recognise sour and bitter is impaired. Similar results were recorded in healthy people of the same age. On the other hand, unlike the healthy elderly adults in the trial, those with Alzheimer’s demonstrated a lack of ability in identifying odours, and it has long been understood that your sense of smell can have an impact on appetite.

Read the full research article by clicking here.

That inspired me to search further, and of course there’s a host of information on the importance of a good diet for those living with dementia such as Alzheimer’s Society’s Eating_and_drinking_factsheet.

Then Ode’s award-winning product caught my eye, offering a method of stimulating appetite through releasing smells: it creates the link between the power of scent and its effect on our relationship with food. There are three scents in an ode and you decide when each comes on, around preferred mealtimes and daily routines. See more on the Ode website.

What I liked most was the suggestion in The Journal of Dementia Care’s Jan/Feb issue that an alcoholic drink can stimulate appetite. Show me a care home with a decent wine list and I’m booking in!

 

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Getting to know each other

Carer's Chart

We’re always going on about the importance of needing to know about a resident’s needs and preferences, but what about your staff? Might they like to share what they like and dislike, and might they learn something from the exercise as well?

Encourage your staff to share what matters to them by completing one of these free charts. With everyone’s agreement, display them where other staff, residents and their families can see them, creating an opportunity to appreciate what is important to each other. Generate a sense of mutual respect throughout your community, and create opportunities for meaningful interaction between every member of that community.

If you are using our Care Charts for your residents you will see that we have used the same symbols* as those on the resident’s charts. This helps make the point that we are all similar in having needs and preferences, that whether we are a carer or someone being cared for, we all have things in our lives that can cause pleasure or distress.

Download as many copies of the Carers Chart A4 as you need, encourage your staff to share, and develop the relationship and mutual respect between staff and residents and their families. Indeed, it may be appropriate to invite family members to participate as well.

And if you’re not already using our Care Charts for your residents, give us a call now, on 01403 210485, or email enquiries@carechartsuk.co.uk for further information.

*If you are using Style 2 and would like a Carer’s Chart in the same style please send us a request via email to enquiries@carechartsuk.co.uk.

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