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Care home health in-reach teams

A high proportion of people living in care homes have dementia, often alongside other mental and physical health needs. Addressing this full range of complex needs can be challenging and the benefits of care homes having the support of specialist National Health Service in-reach teams are increasingly recognised.

The Oxford AHSN formed a best practice network of healthcare professionals in 2016 to support care homes in providing quality care to people living with dementia in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Network members meet regularly to share best practice and support each other to implement initiatives. In 2017 and 2018 the network has been jointly funded with Health Education England.

The network builds on work developed in a NIHR-funded research project – WHELD – to improve the wellbeing and health of people with dementia living in care homes. The study showed that combining a person-centred care approach with social interventions and antipsychotic review is effective in reducing mortality and can improve quality of life for residents.

A high proportion (60-80%) of people living in care homes have dementia and they may also have coexisting mental and physical health needs. Recognition of this full range of complex needs can be difficult for the workforce in care homes.

The Oxford AHSN Dementia Clinical Network established a good practice network open to health in-reach teams to support their use of evidence-based approaches. A series of workshops have been held with these teams which have identified projects they would like to take forward and feed back to the group. These workshops have a CPD element.

At these workshops Dr Jane Fossey, Associate Director of Psychological Services at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, talked about learning points from WHELD, and Jackie Kent, a pharmacist from Buckinghamshire, presented on management of diabetes in care homes. There have also been presentations on nutrition and sensory impairment.

Projects identified by the teams include establishing a system where pain is routinely assessed, training and supporting dementia champions and improving oral care for residents in care homes.

We also held two well-attended and well-received events with care homes where teams presented their projects to managers and other care home staff. Links to resources referred to at these events can be found here.

The best practice network is facilitated by Rhonda Riachi of Oxford Brookes University.

  • The team presented a poster describing this project at the UK Dementia Congress, November 2017. See the poster here.