Palliative and end of life care and dementia

By Yvonne Manson, Dementia Consultant

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Around 60% of people with dementia die in care homes (NCPC 2009) for this reason, it’s essential for us as a care provider to prepare and train for good palliative and end of life care.

At Balhousie Care, we recognise the need to deliver person-centred care to an individual throughout their entire life, including during end of life care, making sure we give each person the choice in the care they receive during this time.

On the 6th June, several of our staff members are attending the palliative and end of life care workforce development group organised by Scottish Care to further explore questions around palliative and end of life care.

The new palliative and end of life care framework was recently published by NES which looks at five different domains:

  1. Fundamentals of palliative care
  2. Communication and conversations
  3. Loss, grief and Bereavement
  4. Care planning and delivery
  5. Care in the last days of life

The framework promotes a consistent, inclusive and flexible approach to learning and development, to which staff can reach varying levels of achievement: informed, skilled, enhanced and expert.  

From this reference point, Balhousie Care will to look review the palliative and end of life training resources to ensure they work in line with the new framework. At present, we currently have several staff members with a keen interest in palliative and end of life care, this group of frontline staff will form the basis of the development group, along with support from external partners.

Namaste Care Programme

‘Namaste’ is an Indian greeting which means ‘to honour the spirit within.’

Currently two of our Balhousie care homes use the Namaste Care program. This program is a structured program developed by Joyce Simard and aims at providing comfort and enjoyment to someone with dementia using physical, sensory and emotional elements.

Our Wheatlands home has a Namaste room with items that stimulate all the senses: smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing. We looked at two case studies of residents involved in the program to evaluate the impact.

Namaste case 1

A lady with advanced dementia received a hand massage whilst listening to the piano, her favourite genre of music. This was designed to calm and relax the lady which it did so perfectly. As a result, the lady commented: ‘I love this. If we had done this sooner I might even have been able to play the piano”. She then began to hum along to the music and eventually nodded off to a peaceful sleep.

Namaste case 2

A new resident with advanced Parkinsons disease and associated dementia had difficulty with her speech, her voice was often weak and she became softly spoken, often making communication difficult.

We believed that Namaste care would really benefit this lady, so looked at ways that this could be delivered within a comfortable and safe environment for her. We were able to take the mobile trolley to her.

We identified music that she loved and played this throughout the session. During this, we gave the lady a gentle massage using techniques we had learned within the training. Within 10 minutes, the lady was talking clearly and holding conversations with increased volume. The smile that appeared on the lady’s face was priceless. The frustration had cleared as she was able to communicate and interact once again.

These are only two examples of the positive outcomes from the Namaste training as something we are looking to roll out further across our homes. If this is something you’d like to see within your home or like to be a part of, please contact me for more details.