World Alzheimer’s month 2018 shall soon be over however here at Balhousie Care Group providing specialised care is at the forefront of everything we do every month of the year with dementia care playing a large part in the care we provide.  In February 2016 we appointed Yvonne Manson as dementia nurse consultant within the organisation, one of the first care home organisations in Scotland to have a dedicated dementia nurse consultant. In July of 2016 we launched our dementia strategy which was created in collaboration with our residents, team members, families and visiting professionals. This strategy has proven to be a great success with Yvonne Manson noting “our dementia strategy is working so well.  Everything that it contains has been chosen by the people the strategy would impact the most ensuring that we are delivering the care they themselves want and need.”

The programme started out with only 4 dementia ambassadors and over the months have expanded to over 70 dementia ambassadors across our 25 care homes. The projects our dementia ambassador teams have been working on over the last two years have been varied, everything from personalised environments to medication monitoring.  At the heart of everything we do our aim is always to help improve the lives of those in our care.  There have been too many projects to mention them all however here are an example of some of the projects worked on over the last two years:

  • Personalised enabling environments
  • Dementia signage
  • Memory boxes
  • Therapeutic gardens
  • Namaste Care ™
  • Extensive training available to staff and families
  • Partnership with Alzheimer Scotland
  • Daily exercise
  • Lingo Flamingo
  • Dementia Ambassador groups
  • Palliative and end of life care
  • Music Therapy
  • Creating Conversations
  • Virtual Reality Therapy
  • Amazon Alexa and technology in care homes
  • Cognitive stimulation therapy
  • Psychoactive medication monitoring

Some statistics over two years:

  • Dementia ambassador growth, starting at 4 ambassadors growing to – 73 active ambassadors throughout 25 homes
  • Informed level of promoting excellence in dementia 87% of full staffing group
  • Skilled level of promoting excellence in dementia 76% of staffing group
  • Dementia care mapping from 1.68 average to 2.32 average
  • Just under 35 thousand pounds raised for Alzheimer Scotland

Our dementia program has been widely recognised by others, shared around the world and has helped recognise Balhousie Care Group with an array of awards:

  • Winners of Scottish Social Services Awards 2018; Balhousie Clement Park Living the Codes Personalised Environment
  • Winner of RCNI Nurse Leadership Award 2018; Yvonne Manson Balhousie Dementia Ambassador Program
  • Finalist of Scottish Dementia Awards 2016; Lingo Flamingo partnership with Balhousie Wheatlands
  • Finalist of Scottish Dementia Awards 2017; Balhousie Clement Park indoor garden environment
  • Finalist of Scottish Social Services Awards 2018; Balhousie Dementia Ambassador Program

Balhousie Care Group continues to invest in the dementia program with 10th of September welcoming a new member to our dementia care team; Emma Roberts as dementia services advisor. Yvonne Manson says “It is great to see Balhousie Care Group investing in the program and having a new member to our team will mean we are able to look at even more projects and continue to expand and improve the specialised dementia care we provide. With 25 care homes across Scotland we often have a range of different projects on the go at one time as each home will focus on the most important part of the program for their home.  Having Emma on board means we are able to offer a lot more support and expand our program further.

Emma has now completed her first two weeks as part of the Balhousie dementia services team and tells us I am so excited to have joined Balhousie Care Group as Dementia Services Advisor. The dementia program has already proven to be a huge success, and I am looking forward to working with Yvonne and our team of dementia ambassadors to help expand and improve things further. My own particular interests in dementia care focus on dementia and the senses, which include environmental work, something I have previously had experience with. I aim to support our teams to understand that life within a care home can be a positive experience and not just an existence. I have been inspired by the ongoing dementia projects within our homes and am looking forward to helping more projects begin. I am a real people person and passionate about care.  In my first two weeks I have really enjoyed meeting team members and residents and very much look forward to working alongside our fantastic teams.  It is so encouraging to meet people who are truly living Balhousie Care Group values and working so hard to improve the lives of others.”