Hospices across the country have also been sharing their work and ideas and busting myths that hospices do not care for people with dementia and their families.
So that got us thinking. How has Hospice UK and hospices in general responded to help people live well with dementia?
For some time now Hospice UK has recognised the need to understand the way significant shifts in demography and disease are likely to challenge the scale, scope and ethos of palliative and end of life care.
The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care identified, among other things, the need for new and innovative ways to meet the challenges of an ageing population with an increased incidence of frailty and dementia.
As a result, last year Hospice UK and Dementia UK launched the Dementia end of life care: special interest group. This highly interactive forum is for practitioners working in either the fields of dementia or palliative and end of life care.
The group seeks to bring together practitioners and clinical leaders keen to build their skills, knowledge and confidence in providing high quality palliative and end of life care for people, and their families, affected by dementia.
The group hold regular events, which include presentations from experts addressing such issues as the equity and fair access to care, creative ways to communicate with those with cognitive impairment and helping families to do likewise. We also hear from colleagues on the frontline who are introducing new services as they share top tips of what worked well and what to avoid.
The next meeting is on 22 June. Colleagues from all care settings are welcome and, thanks to funding from the February Foundation, it is free to attend. The programme and presentations will be hosted on our website.
There are a whole wealth of dementia resources hosted on the Hospice UK website, including a guide to help hospices develop care for people with dementia.
And grant programmes managed by Hospice UK, from generous grantees such as St James Place Foundation and Rank Foundation, have also enabled hospices to develop new dementia services and environment.
For example, you can read today on ehospice how a grant from St James’s Place Foundation is helping Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice to improve the experience of people with dementia at the end of life.
So what are individual hospices doing?
Across the country we have seen many other examples of how hospices have responded strategically and clinically to meet the needs of people with dementia.
For example (and with apologies for the many others not included here):
- Royal Trinity Hospice’s Community End of Life Dementia service offers support to people with dementia living at home or in a care home. Specialist nurses help identify and manage symptoms like pain, aggression or anxiety and offer information, advice and reassurance to families to support them in their role.
- Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice is extending its Synergy Cafe – designed for those living with dementia and their carers – into the community. The café has already been running at Thorpe Hall for a year, offering activities, events, presentations and support to families affected by dementia.
- St Luke’s Cheshire Hospice won the ‘Best Training Initiative Award’ at the 2015 National Dementia Care Awards for their work with Dementia UK and East Cheshire Hospice in setting up a team for educating professionals around providing care and support for people with dementia at the end of life.
- Northern Ireland Hospice delivers an extremely well evaluated European Certificate in Holistic Dementia Care, eight-week distance learning course for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals
- St Giles Hospice has developed two pioneering schemes – Memory First, which brings specialised services directly to patients’ doors, and Dementia Friends, which helps those with dementia to go about their daily lives and feel included in their local community.
- The Hospice of St Francis has a dedicated dementia care nurse, while St Cuthbert’s has appointed an admiral nurse.
So what does this tell us about dementia and hospice care? It tells us that hospices are responding enthusiastically through direct services, education and partnerships.
As Dementia Awareness Week draws to a close, let’s remember and celebrate that hospice care is an intervention, place and approach and in these three realms we have a part to play in dementia and end of life care.