The Challenge Project is a two-year pilot, funded by the two charities, with the hope that – should it be successful – it will attract sustainable funding and be used as a model of care which can be replicated elsewhere.
The hospice first approached Alzheimer’s Society after it noticed a dramatic increase in the number of referrals it was receiving for people with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s – up from 18% of all new referrals in 2010-2011 to 36% in 2012-2013.
The hospice also noticed that the majority of these referrals were made as the patient approached the terminal phase of their illness, making it difficult to know the patients’ wishes for their care and preferred place of care and death.
The Challenge Project team consists of:
- Community Palliative Care Nurse Specialist, Alison Jones
- Dementia Support Worker, Nicola Hales
- Project Team Secretary, Sharne Rogers.
‘Increasing service impact’
Working with existing health and social care professionals, the team provides specialist support and advice in the palliation of people with dementia.
The aim is that, by working through other services, there will be a multiplier effect, increasing service impact and extending improvements in care to greater numbers of patients and their families.
Project staff undertake joint visits to people in the community, to assess and follow up patients and families, working closely with the person’s primary professional carers already in place.
The team is also involved in training health and care professionals, helping to improve understanding of dementia and promote the value of early implementation of a palliative care approach and the importance of advance care planning.
Additionally, the project plans to contribute to the campaign to raise awareness of death and dying and support families to have difficult and sensitive discussion around the subject.
An evaluation of key service data will be completed to establish the effectiveness of the model of care and the project team are already in talks with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre in Cardiff about measuring these outcomes.