The conference was attended by two hundred people from hospice and palliative care as well as care home staff.
The conference demonstrated what can be achieved by staff who embrace the challenges of caring for very frail older people at the end of life. It showcased examples of exemplary practice, education and research. Day two involved visits to care homes to hear about latest practices and to observe innovation in action.
Dame Barbara Monroe, Chief Executive of St Christopher’s Hospice, opened the conference by reminding the audience that the world has “woken up” to ageing and older people and that with ageism widespread, it is good to celebrate the positives of older age, not just problems.
She said: “Care homes are an increasingly important area for communities for supported living: there are three times as many beds in care homes than in the NHS. There has been a raft of critical reports and documentaries identifying serious deficits in care. Whilst we need to examine the problems, it is even more important to recognise and build on best practice and research and the good work already in place in so many care homes.”
Dame Barbara ended by paying tribute to the leadership and work of Dr Jo Hockley, founder of St Christopher’s Care Home Team, and thanked the team for their tenacity, rigour and hard work in undertaking research and innovation.
She ended with a quote from a letter from a patient’s relative as a marker of what we all should aspire to:
“The professionalism displayed by you all was matched only by the gentleness and genuine care for my brother. Nothing was too much trouble – nothing was ever rushed. His care and comfort were always paramount. The wonder of it all is that nobody stood out, because everybody was marvellous. Quite an achievement.”
One delegate commented: “Its good to hear about/receive research results that are current and suggested ways to change/adapt practice.”
Read more on the St Christopher’s website.