Palliative Care at Balhousie Care

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“Live how we want to right up until our last breath.” That’s the message we think is the most important when it comes to palliative care, says our Dementia Consultant, Yvonne Manson.

When the time comes for palliative care

Within Balhousie Care Group, palliative care and the steps we take towards providing our residents with the care they wish to receive right until the end of their life is hugely important and one which we’re continually looking for ways to develop.

We recently held a palliative care training day, with speakers Donald MacAskill, CEO of Scottish Care as well as Wheatland Home Manager Grace Sloan, who has developed the Namaste Care programme within the home, and Fiona Muir, who is leading a small team into how we can develop the anticipatory care plans across all our 25 care homes.

Good palliative care means focusing on the quality of the person’s life and, when the time comes, death. We support residents to live well, making sure residents receive a personalised care approach and support to fulfil their wishes. This means our residents reach the end of their life with the best quality care, which met their emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

Our approach

One of the most important aspects of palliative care is ensuring residents’ care wishes are expressed and documented, as well as offering support to families when difficult decisions are needed. Through our Together We’re Great initiative and as part of developing our person-centred care approach, our staff understand the importance of ensuring residents and their relatives wishes are documented as soon as possible.

Leading a small group dedicated to palliative care is Pitlochry deputy manager, Fiona Muir, who is working with staff from Wheatlands, St Ronans and Antiquary. Whilst it is in the earlier stages, Fiona and the group have been working on developing the paperwork to ensure that the person-centred approach includes the kind of care residents wish to receive as they near the end of their life.

Talking about why they decided to form the group, Fiona commented: “We wanted to look for ways that we can develop the care we offer residents when they are nearing the end of their life and ways in which we can work with the residents to put together an anticipatory plan. We’re in the process of working with residents and families to find out what works best and what we can do to help their loved ones during this time.”

With palliative care, we want to take away the dying aspect and look at the ways a resident can continue to live and having that conversation and personalising their care enables us to better understand and respect both the resident and their families wishes.

As part of our partnership with Alzheimer Scotland and their advanced dementia practice model, our goal at Balhousie is to ensure staff are at a minimum of skilled level in promoting excellence and we will continue to support staff in order to achieve this.

Fiona explained: “We’re hoping to create a similar initiative to our dementia ambassadors, where each home has two dedicated palliative care ‘champions’ who will attend meetings and share knowledge and best practice with the rest of their home. It’s hugely important and I’m looking forward to seeing how, in time, we can develop our palliative care service within Balhousie.”

Those little extras

There are some unique therapies designed to improve the quality of life for people living with end stage dementia. At our Wheatlands Care Home, the Namaste Care programme aims to bring honour to people who can no longer communicate how they wish to be care for. The staff at Wheatland have all been trained to best perform the meaningful activities, such as sensory stimulation, human contact and therapeutic touch and music.

‘Namaste’ means to ‘honour the spirit within’ and combines care with compassionate nursing. For relatives, Namaste Care helps us support their understanding of the progression of dementia and proves a positive step to improving the quality of end-of-life care through special treatments residents can enjoy.