Hospices are a place of care, where people can live out the final times of their lives with dignity and support in every way imaginable. The focus of hospice care shifts depending on the medical needs of the greater population; whereas hospice care was at one-point catering to predominantly Cancer patients, it is now used for people with heart disease, respiratory issues, and other terminal illnesses.
One condition hospices are now having to adapt to is dementia. This can be a cloudier subject for hospice nurses and professionals as they search for the best interests of the patient in accordance with both their physical and mental needs. Here are a few things we’ve thought of that might help hospices to deliver quality dementia care.
Creating a care plan
Anyone who has ever worked in a hospice or had experiences with them will understand the importance of a care plan. This is essentially a set of guidelines drawn up by the hospice, patient, patient’s family, and even external healthcare professionals and other medical staff. The care plan should help to ensure that the patient has the best quality of life on offer whilst in the hospice’s care.
When it comes to creating a care plan for someone with dementia, this can be more challenging. Hospice UK recommends carrying out a Best Interest meeting that includes the patient, their family, professional carers and medical staff. This should help to determine the best course of action as agreed by both the family and the carer(s), ultimately reducing the chances of disagreements or hiccups further down the road.
Encouraging activity & socialising
Socialising and partaking in activities has also shown to have a positive effect on those living with dementia, and we believe this can be extended to improve the quality of life for those who are terminally ill. This is vital step is providing person-centred care. In fact, The Guardian recently published an article declaring that just an hour of social interaction every week can really benefit someone living with dementia. Studies have also shown that using sensory stimulants can help to promote interaction and a welcoming atmosphere within a hospice. Playing music that is contemporary to the patient can be particularly comforting, as do certain scents or food treats. This can help the patient feel more at ease in the hospice and improve their happiness and quality of life simply with a little bit of familiarity.
Dementia-friendly spaces & equipment
One of the most straightforward things a hospice can do to provide excellent dementia care is to select more subtle care equipment and create a space that is homely and inviting. Whilst having a modern hospice is lovely, it can be feel alien to people who have dementia. Using decorations or patterns from the patient’s era can have a really positive effect on how they feel and react to objects. For further information on this, take a look at this article.
Equipment can also have an effect on the patient’s wellbeing and state-of-mind. Specialist beds, rise and recline chairs, and patient lifting hoists can be particularly clinical in how they look, which again detracts from how homely and relaxing a hospice should feel. By choosing more natural looking equipment that blends in, you can help keep the patient at ease. We always recommend taking a look at the Integralift hidden hoist, which is folded away into a cupboard or bedhead system when it’s not being used. There is also a selection of discreet profiling beds that can help to maintain a cosy atmosphere as well.
These are just 3 ways that you can help to encourage and maintain quality dementia care in hospices, and we think they’re pretty easy to put into action. For a more detailed analysis of what hospices can and should be offering, take a look at this guide published by Hospice UK. But if you need any further information on how you can use equipment to facilitate dementia care in hospices, then do get in touch with us.