More than 10,000 people in Norfolk and Suffolk are now helping themselves to get better dementia care by using an Alzheimer’s Society tool.
“This Is Me” – designed by Alzheimer’s Society and supported by the Royal College of Nursing, provides a snapshot of the person behind dementia and is used by hospital staff providing care.
It is a leaflet designed to be completed by the person themselves, a carer or family member before they enter hospital to enable hospital staff to care for the person as an individual by using knowledge of their habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes.
Paul Dunnery, Area Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in East Anglia says:
“This Is Me has been a tremendous success – thanks to the support of the Strategic Health Authority in East Anglia and a number of local hospitals. More than 10,000 copies are in circulation in the two counties, but we know that there are more than 24,000 people with dementia in Suffolk and Norfolk, so many people are ending up in hospital without a copy. As a result, they are missing out on the improved communication and personalised care that This Is Me helps to encourage.”
Emma Talbot, a Specialist Occupational Therapist at Ipswich hospital says: “This Is Me helps to gain insight into patients’ needs and particular behaviour patterns. The nursing staff also enjoy seeing the photographs on the front covers because it helps them see the patient as a ‘person’ who has had a life and experiences rather than the person they have become. Families have really enjoyed filling them in, feeling useful and being constructive to their family member’s care. They are a very powerful and useful tool.”
This Is Me also helps avoid difficult situations and manages behaviour that is challenging, which can arise from a person being unable to express themselves.
The introduction of ‘This Is Me’ followed the publication in 2009 of an Alzheimer’s Society report called “Counting the Cost” which found large variations in the quality of care for people with dementia in hospitals across the UK.
The study found that people with dementia are staying in hospital too long and some come out of hospital in a worse state than when they went in. The report concluded that staff are often not equipped to care for people with dementia. ‘This Is Me’ helps staff to provide the best possible person centred dementia care, by helping them to get to know the individual and understand their needs.
Anyone affected by dementia can get hold of a copy by contacting their local Alzheimer’s Society office or logging on to www.alzheimers.org.uk/thisisme