May 19

Building community links to improve dementia care

Posted: 20 May 2019

It’s not possible for providers to operate in a vacuum. Every service must regularly engage with other organisations to ensure that people receive the best care and support.

Having strong networks and links will help you to keep up-to-date with the latest best practice, find out about new approaches to delivering care and support, and learn from others, so you can continually improve what you do.

This Dementia Action Week, we hear from Fred Mairet, Registered Manager at Home Instead Senior Care Westminster, about how he builds community links to improve dementia care in the service he manages and in the wider community.

“We were most recently inspected last year, and the engagement we saw from our local inspector was about more than just compliance – it was looking at the impact that we had on the local community and our clients’ quality of life.

“Home Instead works with lots of local people and organisations that help us to improve our service and develop our community, so that we can all better support people who are living with dementia.

Support from other organisations

“For example, we work with Dementia UK that provides specialist dementia support for people and their families. If our staff are concerned about someone they’re supporting, we contact the charity for advice. They’re also great at working alongside our clients and their family to give them one to one support, and, when they find things challenging, practical solutions.

“This relationship has been crucial in developing and improving our service. It ensures that people get the care and support that they need, even if this goes beyond the services that we provide.

“It’s also helped us to raise the profile of Home Instead, as Dementia UK gets in touch with us when they’re supporting someone who they think benefit from our care services.”

Enabling people to stay part of their community

“We know that local communities play an important role in people’s lives, and we want to encourage the people that we support to continue to take part in theirs. However, we also know that some communities have barriers that prevent people from doing this. That’s why we’re a member of the Westminster Dementia Action Alliance, which is a group of local businesses and organisations that come together to make the borough ‘dementia friendly’.

“This year, the alliance is focusing on encouraging local businesses to become more ‘dementia friendly’. We hope that by making some small changes this will enable people to engage with their community, and stay in their own homes, for longer.

“Being part of the alliance is a great way for us to stay up-to-date with local activities, so that we can support people to get involved. For example, we support our clients to attend the local singing group, reminiscence sessions and memory café, and last month there was a presentation about architecture, which one of our clients got involved in as he’s a former architect.

“I’m also a Dementia Friends Champions with the Alzheimer’s Society, and, along with the care manager, we’ve delivered dementia information sessions to over 800 people in the Westminster community. This has been a great opportunity to network with local people who feel concerned about dementia, and who want to know more about how they can help.”

Networking with other managers

“It’s important for me, as a manager, to network with other managers, and I attend the Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham Registered Manager Network. This helps me to stay up-to-date with the latest best practice and discuss practical solutions to help me improve the service.

“We have regular presentations from the CQC which I find particularly useful. For example, they did a presentation when the key lines of enquiry were updated in November 2017. It was great to engage with the local inspector and have the opportunity to ask questions. It was also useful to hear other managers ask questions, as a lot of these were things I hadn’t thought about.”

Get involved

“I strongly encourage other managers to identify and get in touch with local organisations and networks. They offer so many opportunities to improve what you do and make the lives of the people you support better.”

Find out more

There’s also more practical guidance about building networks and links to support improvement in our new ‘Guide to improvement.’ Download your free copy here.

Fred is a Skills for Care registered manager member and part of his local registered manager network, where he gets exclusive support in his role. Find out more about membership here and how to join your local registered manager network here.