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Dementia Care Charter

The Agincare dementia care charter sets out our commitment to being a frontrunner in providing excellent dementia care.

Each person’s experience with dementia is unique and we recognise that all people regardless of their diagnosis or the stage of dementia they are at have their own strengths to call upon, their own capabilities, wishes and their personal experiences.

Our dementia care charter underlines the teamwork and partnerships between people living with dementia, their carers and people that are important to them, our care and support staff, specialist dementia nurse lead and our management teams

Expert practice in dementia care

Agincare’s specialist dementia lead nurse stimulates quality-centred dementia care, promoting a positive environment and organisational culture that puts person- and family-centred care at the forefront of what we do.

We empower our staff to develop caring strategies that reflect evidenced-based practice and follow national and local dementia guidelines and strategies.

Our assessment framework has a holistic approach to identifying the support people living with dementia need and prefer, and what they want their service to look like.

We train our staff in a range of essential skills to ensure and promote people’s safety, as well as recognising their needs for continued and sustained leisure, social and recreational activity.

The assessment framework supports staff in:

  • The management of frailty and comorbidities including falls and continence management
  • Health promotion, including hydration and nutrition and medication management
  • Supporting people with the advanced stages of dementia
  • End of life care

The specialist dementia nurse lead supports our staff through training, e-news and policy so they can:

  • Understand and implement the principles of the Mental Capacity Act
  • Maximise the opportunities for people to make decisions about their care, along with risk identification and positive risk management

Facilitating learning

We support managers to engage in practice development and share learning and best practice with their teams. This all enhances the delivery and development of our dementia, communication, person-centred and specialist-related training.

Our specialist dementia nurse lead has developed a Level 3 Diploma in the Principles of Dementia Care in conjunction with Agincare’s own training company. This diploma develops and expands the skills and knowledge of staff working in Agincare care homes. Our dementia specialist also holds dementia workshops for staff and care talks for local communities and relatives.

All staff can access dementia-specific training to help them understand the needs of a person living with dementia. Our services have ‘Dignity Champions’ to make sure everyone is always championing the best quality care.

The greatest learning our staff can receive is that provided by the people using the services, and their loved-ones. Our person-centred approach to care is focussed around each individual and their family.

We really get to know everyone so we can help them feel reassured and comfortable - learning their unique biography, their needs and preferences for how they like things to be.

And our relationship-centred approach means we work in collaboration with the person’s family, friends and people who are important to them to plan and implement a bespoke plan of care.

Positive risk-taking

Assessing risk for people living with dementia can dominate everyday practice and it is common to have concerns about people being a danger to themselves or to others. However, this defines risk in a negative way rather than balancing the positive benefits gained of risk taking against the negative effects of avoiding risks altogether.

We need to find a balance between people wanting to do everyday activities with our duty of care and legal responsibilities. Positive risk-taking recognises that the negative consequences of risk must be managed appropriately, but sees risk as an opportunity for learning, enabling people to make their own decisions and exercise choice. Positive risk-taking is about sharing risk, helping us think through options more clearly and from different perspectives.

We use tools to monitor and measure risk in relation to a person’s health, including the risk of falling, or the risk of pressure damage for people who are less mobile. But in relation to day-to-day activities, people’s lifestyle choices and preferences, there are no tools to quantify risk; we need to support our care and support staff to assess a person’s capabilities and their capacity to understand risk. The Mental Capacity Act provides a framework to help people make their own decisions. If it is considered that they lack capacity to do so, any decision made on their behalf will be the least restrictive and done only in their best interests.

Liaison and community engagement

We build reputable links with wider health and social care professionals and services, in particular around transfers of care and changing health and social care needs. These networks contribute to the wider health and social care pathway.

Dementia-friendly living environments

All our care homes are different in design. They range from older, turn-of-the-century properties to purpose-built care homes. Agincare Homes Holdings is part of a bigger group of care companies supported by central services, including facilities management Each home is designed around its unique building structure to maximise opportunities and living space.

A ‘homely’ feel in our care homes

We understand that quality of life for older people can be influenced by their living environment. Most research on creating an environment suitable for people with dementia focuses on the need for a ‘homely’ feel and ‘household’ models. The familiar, homely and cosy environment in all Agincare care homes is therapeutic and beneficial.

Personal space

Although each home has its differences, each resident and their visitors can be certain of their own personal space in a private bedroom which they can personalise. Each home has a range of shared communal areas, from small, cosy sitting rooms and music rooms to larger day rooms where organised group activities take place.

Colour and visual cues

We use colour and visual cues (such as each bedroom having its own personalised front door), signage and focus points to help residents to find their way around the home. Inspiration for our care home interiors comes from various research sources such as the King’s Fund’s ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment Programme’ (2009-2012) and the Social Care Institute for Excellence ‘Dementia Gateway’.

Our regulators often focus on bold signage, orientation boards and colour coding. We believe this detracts from a ‘home from home’ appeal and can in itself be disorienting to the person, who sees the institution rather than feeling at home.

At Agincare we recognise that people living with dementia can become distracted in over-stimulating environments. We make sure that are not too many notices and signs, or highly-patterned wallpapers and carpets. Through our redecoration and refurbishment programmes we make sure there are plain walls broken with subtle colours, contrasting handrails to assist mobility and attractive pictures and objects/ornaments as points of focus.

Visual disturbances are common with some types of dementia and we minimise shadows by appropriate daylight lighting and make sure there are no shiny surfaces on floors. We keep mirrors to a minimum, unless on request by specific residents. The background noise is subtle with light music in communal areas, unless of course there is a specific ‘noisy’ activity, sing-a-long or film night!

Accessible outdoor space

All our care homes have accessible outdoor space. Many have created structural gardens with raised flower beds, and sensory gardens with herbs and brightly-coloured flowering plants to stimulate the senses. Our homes encourage outdoor activity with residents helping to maintain the planting. Many residents have grown (and eaten) their own vegetables. Some homes also have resident animals, such as chickens, doves, cats and rabbits.

The design aims and culture of all our homes are to:

  • Involve people in activities
  • Help people connect to nature with accessible outdoor space
  • Help people find their way around
  • Reduce agitation, depression or apathy
  • Improve sleep patterns

All of the above can feature in various stages of a dementia-type illness.

Inevitably there will always need to be certain ‘not so homely’ pieces of equipment such as hoists and walking aids in our homes. Our staff will always store these away from resident areas for safety and to keep the environment looking and feeling like ‘home’.

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