Guest Blog written by Bernadette Mossman on Wednesday January 27, 2016
I am passionate about creating, and delivering excellent quality standards for people living with dementia, challenging all aspects of current thinking regarding dementia care, particularly the over-prescription of anti-psychotic medication. It is for this reason that I wanted to become involved in research, understanding and shaping the latest developments, and having the opportunity to engage with new healthcare professionals and academics.
The MARQUE project (Managing Agitation and Raising Quality of Life) organised by University College London and funded by the ESRC and the NIHR is a piece of research based on the Government’s Dementia Strategy which will explore the quality of life of people with memory problems who live in care homes, and what makes their quality of life better or worse. One of the main outcomes, being to use the information gathered to develop a new training programme for care home staff to improve resident’s quality of life.
As one third of our population, aged over 65, live and will die with dementia; and may experience symptoms of agitation resulting in families being unable to cope and inevitable admission to a Care Home setting. To be able to properly care for people with these difficulties, we need new strategies and support, and it is essential every effort is made to improve quality of care and support to staff and residents living with these experiences.
This study is one of the streams in an integrated programme to help tackle agitation in a variety of settings including Care Homes, domestic environments and end of life.
Vida Hall is a 70 bed specialist dementia care home, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire rated as excellent by the CQC. We were first approached to become involved in this study in late 2014. It was an easy decision for us, as an organisation, however some staff were initially concerned over the amount of time this might take, and the potential impact on care. Having worked through these challenges, we have worked closely with the MARQUE research team who have become part of the ‘Vida Team’ over the last 6 months. They have interviewed staff, families and residents and gathered invaluable life experiences using questionnaires specially designed for each group.
The researches will return to ask follow-up questions 4 times over 16 months and will use results to test theory that agitation is an important factor in determining residents quality of life, and that the ways staff cope with stress affect the impact that agitation has on quality of life.
My advice to care homes that are unsure about becoming involved:
Arrange for a member of the ENRICH Team to come to your home and talk about the opportunities available for your team, families and residents to be involved in research.We found this highly motivating and exciting.
Think’ Innovation’ – be part of something that might make quality change – you can select from so many areas of research. You have the opportunity to consider what time and effort you can commit to before you select the research matter you would like to be part of.
The opportunities are endless – networking, sharing good practice and joint working being some of the benefits and experiences we have shared.
Bernadette Mossman, Healthcare Director and Registered Manager, Vida Healthcare