Improved care for older people in the area


A unique new project that will improve care for older people across Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield was launched in Huddersfield this week.

The Collaborative Project aims to provide person-centred care for every individual whether they are receiving care in hospital, in the community or in a care home. It is being led by South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust in partnership with local authorities, primary care trusts, local universities and voluntary organisations such as the Alzheimer’s society.

Staff across hospitals, residential care homes and other services for older people in the area will be trained in person centred approaches to care such as ‘dementia care mapping’ – where staff observe the patient with dementia and write down how they respond to the care they are given. The aim is to try and see things through the eyes of the person with dementia and use then use this information to improve care for each individual.

This project follows on from the award winning work of a team at Dewsbury and District hospital, who used dementia care mapping and other person centred care approaches to improve care on older people’s wards.

Suzanne Wightman, who is leading the project within the Trust says, "Everybody deserves to receive person centre care in whatever environment they are receiving care in. A person-centred approach involves seeing each individual as valuable and important. It should be immaterial what the medical condition or diagnosis is in terms of the care given to a patient or client. Instead, the emphasis is on the social, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of the person as well as a thorough understanding of their personality and life."


Below is a case study from a carer (who wishes to remain anonymous) about her mother who had Alzheimer’s.

Mum’s journey from independence to residential care

"Mum was a bright, happy lady who loved her family, her home and her garden. She was very independent and proud, of her family, her home and particularly her appearance. Mum enjoyed newspapers, crosswords, current affairs and basically the good things in life. But by the time of her 90th birthday she was becoming forgetful. I, and my grown up children, thought it was just part of the ageing process.

Sadly, as the weeks and months progressed, we realised that there was more to her forgetfulness than just her age, and after a Consultant at the hospital had seen her, Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type was diagnosed. She gradually deteriorated, became nervous, frightened in her own home and her moods changed rapidly. Sometimes she was like a small child and just wanted to please, but on other occasions she would be bad tempered and snappy. I tried to learn more about dementia but it is a very cruel and difficult illness and so many people, myself included do not fully understand.

Eventually we were able to negotiate for home care staff to visit three times daily. She had no idea who these people were and what they were doing in her house. By this time, my Mum was forgetting to change her clothes, and also to eat. I found that home care staff were well meaning but tried to do things their way which did not always consider the feelings of a very confused, frightened (and by this time frail) 92 year old lady.

Everything came to a head almost a year ago. Mum called the police. She was crying and extremely upset as she thought she had been taken and "dumped" in this house, locked in and didn’t know how to get out. I called our doctor who said she was beyond looking after herself any more and needed to go into care, that day. This was a tremendous shock and an emergency bed was found for her. We were then fortunate enough to find accommodation in a care home not too far away.

Prior to the move Mum had a fall and had to be admitted to hospital for an x-ray and examination. This was Mums first ever visit (as an in-patient) to hospital and she was terrified. She was described as being obstructive although I know the reaction was due to her being frightened and ill with dementia.

During her time in hospital I witnessed staff trying to care for Mum. On one occasion staff patiently attended to her as they introduced themselves, called her by name, making eye contact and explaining the procedure they were undertaking. Both my Mum and the nurse parted with a smile. In contrast, on another occasion, Mum was approached by a busy nurse who didn’t take the time to call her by name and wasn’t explaining what she was doing. The procedure was not carried out, my Mum was distressed and the nurse wasn’t smiling as she left. This admission to hospital helped me to see that approaching a person and treating them with respect and sensitivity can lead to better results for both staff and the person being cared for.

The admission to the care home helped Mum to settle in well. Staff enquired about what mum liked and didn’t like, how things had been at home and what routines she had. She was loved by all the staff and the care was excellent. There was a glimpse of Mum and Nana as we, her family remembered her from some time past. Mum was looked after, kept free from pain and was clean and comfortable. Sadly she passed away, but not alone, she had the caring staff who she also cared for, around her.

During my Mum’s journey she experienced some excellent care and some care that left a lot to be desired. I know that the good care resulted from Mum being treated as an individual. Being treated as a real person rather than just getting a job done made a difference to Mum, myself and our family. I have come to hear more about this Collaborative Project through the hospital who diagnosed Mum. I hope that this project can help to make a difference to the care that people receive and the compassion and understanding that staff need to do this difficult job."

Factfile on dementia • Dementia currently affects over 750,000 people in the UK • Over 18,000 people with dementia are aged under 65 years • Dementia affects one person in 20 aged over 65 years and one person in five over 80 years of age. (Facts taken from Alzheimer’s society)

Improved care for older people in the area

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