Empowering nurses and care home staff in dementia care

Empowering nurses and care home staff to lead excellence in nutrition and dignity in dementia care through evidence based learning to enhance the care environment.

Ensuring appropriate food and nutrition is a vital part in delivering dignity in care for people with dementia. They  are at increased risk of severe malnutrition (under nutrition) and weight loss as the organisational, conceptual and physical skills required to manage eating and drinking become increasingly difficult as a result of the disease process. Indeed the challenge of managing dementia across health and social care was recently highlighted by the Prime Minister to identify innovations in care to help people and families receive the right level of personalised support (Department of Health, 2012).  Despite policies and highlighted concerns, worryingly there are no standardised interventions to maintain adequate nutrition in people with dementia and the challenges of meeting nutrition and hydration continue to be reported.

Therefore this research project will tackle these on-going and as yet unresolved concerns by:

1. Identifying best practice for delivering excellence in nutrition and dignity in dementia care. The project will define transferrable knowledge and skills for nutrition and dignity in dementia care. It will inform the evidence base and guide appropriate food and nutrition policy that will be viewed as the cornerstone of best practice across the wider nursing workforce.

2. Establishing high quality education and learning. The evidence base will inform the development of a high quality programme to extend existing core skills and provide new knowledge and awareness of nutrition in dementia care to empower nursing and care staff in care homes to deliver excellence in nutrition and dignity in dementia care.

The project will be carried out over a 2 year period (starting January 2014) and presents exciting new working partnerships between Bournemouth University, Partners in Care, the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and national care home organisations. A whole care home approach will be a key element of this project that will require the involvement of service users, families and carers of people with dementia as part of the project.

A key outcome of the project is to induce a long-lasting culture change towards person-centred care, through empowered leadership and transfer of knowledge and skills, sustained through evidenced based changes in behaviour and attitudes by changing perceptions of self-awareness, confidence, leadership and communicative abilities. Ultimately these changes will be reflected in improvements in the care environment and the overall organisation’s performance and reputation based on key performance indicators.

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