Having contact with a nurse who understands dementia and has the time to get to know their situation could improve carers’ confidence and help them to feel supported | National Institute for Health Research | University of York
Admiral Nursing is the only nursing service that specifically focuses on supporting carers of people with dementia in the UK. Research carried out by the University of York found that Admiral Nurses are successfully targeting carers with the most complex needs
The research team, from York’s Social Policy Research Unit and Centre for Health Economics, looked at information routinely collected by Dementia UK which showed that, on average, the needs of carers with an Admiral Nurse reduced over time. However, the data were not detailed enough to show what caused this improvement. In interviews and focus groups, carers themselves said that the sorts of support provided by Admiral Nurses could positively influence their health, quality of life and confidence in caring.
The research team followed this up with a survey, completed by 346 current carers of people with dementia, which demonstrated the heavy burden that dementia carers carry, the low levels of support that they get from health and social care services and the financial impact on carers and their families when they have to pay for help.
NHS England | January 2019 | Using technology enabled care to support cognition in early onset dementia
A recent case study on NHS England’s Atlas of Shared Learning spotlights how the Nurse Manager in the Mental Health and Vascular Wellbeing Team at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust (NSCHT) led a programme of work to introduce a digital application (app) into the care and treatment plans for service users at high risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The app was designed to digitally link the nursing and medical staff with the service user, enabling care closer to home, empowering service users, families and carers to have greater control and input into planning their treatment and care and improving service user experience and outcomes.
NHS England| July 2018 | The Atlas of Shared Learning
NHS England have released a case study highlighting the work of mental health nurses in Somerset, who have established a new community-based Intensive Dementia Support Service (IDSS). It has had a significant positive impact on patients, carers and colleagues – providing interventions at point of crisis in the person’s usual place of residency, with the aim of reducing admissions to an older person’s mental health ward.
A person-centred care intervention for people with dementia living in care homes improved their quality of life, reduced agitation and improved interactions with staff. It may also save costs compared with usual care | National Institute for Health Research
The WHELD intervention involves training staff in person-centred care, with a focus on improving social interactions and appropriate use of antipsychotic medications. An early study suggested it could halve antipsychotic use.
This larger-scale NIHR trial conducted across 69 UK nursing homes focused on exploring the effects on quality of life and other symptoms. WHELD gave small-scale, but important improvements. It didn’t reduce antipsychotic use, as this was low to start with, which is in line with policy to limit use.
It supports the feasibility of the intervention, but there is a need to understand which components are most effective and could be implemented on a wide scale with sustainable effects.
Although gerontological nurses are well positioned to care for older adults with dementia, barriers to implementing quality client care remain, including: limited knowledge, poor morale among care staff, lack of professional development opportunities, and unsuitability of acute care hospitals for this client group | Journal of Gerontological Nursing
The solution most commonly offered is education. Many academic institutions, health care facilities, and even professional associations offer educational activities. The literature is rich with descriptions of activity formats, from workshops of less than 1 hour in duration to courses provided over 12 months or longer, offered in face-to-face format, print, or via online learning. Exceptional educational activities might be described as having a high degree of transference, meaning that the information learned in these activities can be easily applied to gerontological nursing practice.
Yet, I question whether these activities actually change nursing practice. Based on my review of the literature, most educational activities are evaluated in terms of attitude shifts, knowledge gained, and/or satisfaction with course content—few speak to changes in the quality of care provided to older adults with dementia. One reason may be that a large proportion of the published literature on the topic of dementia workforce education describes research studies, which are often by definition initiated by individuals external to a facility, time-limited, and not always sustainable. If we are to face the challenge of demographic aging and the projected increase it will bring in the number of older adults living with dementia, academic and health and human service organizations will need to ensure that their nursing workforce has the knowledge and, more importantly, the skills required to perform their work. However, the value of educational activities in determining clinical interventions and subsequently evaluating the direct effects of these interventions on outcomes for older adults with dementia has been limited.
Although the majority of people with dementia wish to age in place, they are particularly susceptible to nursing home admission | Geriatric Nursing
Nurses can play an important role in detecting practical problems people with dementia and their informal caregivers are facing and in advising them on various ways to manage these problems at home.
Six focus group interviews (n = 43) with formal and informal caregivers and experts in the field of assistive technology were conducted to gain insight into the most important practical problems preventing people with dementia from living at home. Problems within three domains were consistently described as most important: informal caregiver/social network-related problems (e.g. high load of care responsibility), safety-related problems (e.g. fall risk, wandering), and decreased self-reliance (e.g. problems regarding self-care, lack of day structure).
To facilitate aging in place and/or to delay institutionalization, nurses in community-based dementia care should focus on assessing problems within those three domains and offer potential solutions.