Our Dementia Strategy: Theme Three

Theme Three: Engagement

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Last year, we launched our Balhousie Dementia Strategy, which has six themes designed to inform, support and influence the very best in dementia care. We wanted to let you know a little more about it, about how we’re implementing it within our homes and some of our people who have embraced it…

The third theme in the dementia strategy is engagement and how we gauge feelings held by residents, family members, staff and professionals on the dementia care provided within each home.

There’s nothing more important when it comes to providing our residents with exceptional care than engagement from all those involved with our residents. A personalised care approach, in a personalised environment is something we champion here at Balhousie Care Group and we can only do that with the help of the residents, their families and our staff all working together.

Resident engagement

We recently introduced you to our Participation Charter, which is the first of its kind in the care home sectors. We were inspired by National Involvement Network (NIN) and the Association for Real Change (ACR) Scotland. In a NIN report published last year, organisations reported that participation charters provided a framework for continual improvement, embedded the values and culture of an organisation, provided a catalyst for change, and led to improved staff recruitment. For us, it’s our commitment to our residents that they get a bigger say than ever in the care they receive, no matter which home they are in.

Louise Barnett, Balhousie’s director of operations explains that “more importantly, it is a charter written in collaboration with the residents themselves.” The Balhousie Participation Charter states that residents must be part of events in the homes, be able to speak out about their care, be involved in writing care home policies, and have a say in recruiting staff and fits in with our Together We’re Great initiative. Have a read of the Charter here

Family engagement

Recently, one of our wonderful dementia ambassadors, Pat Lawrie at Monkbarns, inspired some lovely family engagement. Pat had attended one of the dementia ambassador talks organised by dementia consultant Yvonne Manson at which Tommy Whitelaw presented to the ambassadors about his ‘Make a Difference’ campaign. As part of this, Tommy spoke about his mum and dad’s ‘love story’ and this got Pat thinking about which of her residents’ families she could share this idea with.

Having seen a picture of Pat and Darlene in the local newspaper after they won the dementia ambassador ‘rummage box’ project, Mike, the son of resident Dorothy, came to Pat to ask about the Dementia Ambassador project. Pat told him all about it and shared with Mike the leaflets that Tommy had given out for him to take home and have a little think about.

Before the end of Pat’s shift, Mike’s wife Kyrsia phoned to say how interested and inspired she had found them and how much comfort it brought them having been heavily involved in her care prior to her coming to Monkbarns. Pat encouraged them to create Dorothy’s ‘love story’ and a few days later, Mike brought it in to show her. When Pat read Dorothy and Frank’s story, she was moved by how beautiful it was and thanked Mike and Krysia for their hard work.

Pat spoke to home manager Joyce, Mike and Kyrsia and asked if she could keep a copy in Dorothy’s support plan so all staff members could read it and find out a little more about Dorothy before the dementia. Mike and Kyrsia also said that Monkbarns is a fantastic care home and the dementia ambassador project is wonderful.

Staff engagement

Staff engagement has played a vital role in developing the dementia strategy, with a huge effort from the dedicated dementia ambassadors working together on regular projects such as the rummage box and fitness challengeDementia ambassadors within the homes also lead the Dementia Path days, which recognises the right of everyone in the care home community to be fully involved. These help ensure the views of everyone involved are listened to, and everyone can help to shape how their home moves forward. Each Dementia Path day aims to look at where the home is now and where they wish to aim to next and how to achieve this..

Staff regularly attend talks and training held by Yvonne. Speaking of the importance of their contribution, Yvonne adds:

“The ambassador program has been the success it has because of the engagement from the staff teams, not only the dementia ambassadors but all the staff within each of our homes who have supported the ambassadors. After the meetings staff often email with progress on how they have taken forward ideas, and as much as they say they are inspired by the people who visit they themselves are inspiring others and are a pleasure to work with.”