Anyone who has cared for a person living with dementia will be aware of the time, energy and understanding that is required in order to maintain their health, wellbeing and quality of life. A dementia journey can vary from person to person and symptoms can change over time, therefore providing care is complex and requires bespoke approaches.
As more is understood about dementia, the specialist care available is being transformed. Customised environments, alternative therapies and a reduction in the use of medication are all being deployed more frequently. Bernadette Mossman, Healthcare Director at the UK’s leading provider of specialist dementia care Vida Healthcare, discusses how cutting edge dementia care provision can be driven by the deployment of digital solutions.
Providing tailored care
Dementia care wants to be tailored to each individual. For a care provider, such as a care home operator, this means taking the time to get to know each resident and supporting them as individuals.
From learning about family and friends, hobbies and interests, to understanding the technology solutions and other alternative approaches that are right for them, building meaningful connections will ensure care is cutting edge.
Keeping up-to-date with the latest research, particularly when it comes to assistive technology and other digital solutions, is very important. This ensures that anyone who is providing care for someone living with dementia is aware of the latest developments and can draw on clinical expertise. This includes championing the use of alternative therapies over antipsychotic medications.
Available solutions and the benefits of technology
Technology and digital solutions can have a wide range of benefits on people living with dementia.
Telecare services can play an important role in monitoring and alerting the right people if someone living with dementia is in need. Specialist hubs monitor for alerts 24/7 and can be staffed by highly experienced, multidisciplinary teams. In the event of an emergency or urgent care requirement, the hubs can provide early intervention which reduces the time from diagnosis to treatment. Collaborative practices are encouraged, with hubs having access to individual care records, enabling them to provide comprehensive clinical assessments, guidance on condition management and ongoing monitoring. This in turn gives those caring for people living with dementia access to expert clinical advice and support whenever it is required. One such example is the Immedicare 24/7 Service, which we have adopted at Vida Healthcare.
Digital solutions can promote collaboration and improved working practices. IT systems can be deployed by GPs, district nurses and other allied healthcare staff working in the community to enhance their communication with care home operators and other social care providers. This in turn ensures that the right care is delivered to the right people at the right time. This is particularly important for people living with dementia who may not have the capacity to accurately convey if they are in need of support.
We are also seeing the exploration of circadian lighting and the positive benefits that this can offer people living with dementia. Circadian lighting has the potential to positively affect melatonin production as light is used to influence the circadian rhythm. There are currently three options available; intensity tuning, colour tuning and stimulus tuning. Circadian lighting can support the establishment of a routine which is extremely important for people living with dementia. Routine can support individuals in navigating their world, and provide purpose and order to their days, even if they are losing track of time.
Health and wellbeing has always been very closely linked, with a dip in one often meaning a direct negative impact on the other. Dementia care providers will want to consider adopting digital solutions that have a positive impact on both the health and wellbeing of the people they care for. Over the past few years, room disinfection innovations have become increasingly common, making the sanitisation of rooms, such as bedrooms, easier and more effective. Ozone is one such innovation, consisting of three oxygen molecules bonded together. Due to its highly reactive nature and ability to bond to and break down viruses, bacteria and other harmful pathogens, ozone has become a vital source of laundry and room disinfection for many care home operators and other care providers.
So what does this mean?
As technology and digital solutions advance and become increasingly proactive, predictive and preventive, we’re seeing an increase in care providers investing to protect people living with dementia. Technology can enable greater personalisation of care which is crucial as everyone’s dementia journey is completely different.
As we secure greater insight through technology innovations, we’re expecting to see dementia care provision continue to transform as upstream, targeted interventions become the norm. This can give both those living with dementia and the people who care for them peace of mind that they’re receiving effective care that will prolong their health and wellbeing beyond what has previously been possible.
For more information on the specialist care available to people living with dementia, please visit www.vidahealthcare.co.uk.
Vida Healthcare was established to transform the care available to people living with dementia, with a focus on championing the use of bespoke environments and alternative therapies to improve wellbeing and quality of life.
More than three years of research went into the planning of the first home, Vida Hall in Starbeck, and the company worked with leading consultants to develop an innovative, state-of-the-art home. Vida Healthcare’s second care home, Vida Grange in Pannal, opened in December 2016. Following the same design principles and philosophy of care, Vida Grange offers high quality care, state-of-the-art facilities and home comforts.
Vida Healthcare completed its third home, Vida Court, in 2021. Dubbed ‘the home of the future’ which includes a cinema, florist, coffee shop, and landscaped gardens, amongst other things, to support social interactions and ensure our residents have a high quality of life.