Blogs, resources and events

Blogs I’m watching 

As Omicron heaps more pressure on the NHS, Wendy Mitchell found herself with an unenviable inside view even before the variant began to spread.  She was out for an early morning walk to see the sunrise – there are some lovely photos in her blogpost – when “suddenly my feet went from under me and I crashed to the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me.”  The resulting broken wrist was evidently shocking enough but perhaps no more so than when Wendy winds up in A&E at Hull Royal.  “What we witnessed for the next 8 or 9 hours was tragic,” she writes.  “Elderly and young alike sat on their own looking helpless, one woman got here by herself with a dislocated ankle because no ambulances were available, a young man crying and saying he wished he was dead….”  And that’s only the patients. Frankly, the staff are scarcely in better shape, “the drained looking, exhausted nurses and doctors… the desperate kindness they showed, when they knew some people just shouldn’t have to wait…”  In recent updates, Wendy describes the successful outcome of her operation, but not before telling us about a shocking phone call with her consultant: “Apparently on paper (having dementia) he didn’t think surgery was necessary as he ASSUMED I wouldn’t have need for a left hand – so best left to heal by itself, by which time it would be rendered useless…”  

whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com  

“If we measure our society by wellbeing rather than Gradgrindian balance sheets, we will be a happier and kinder nation,” writes George Rook.  He sets out his wishlist for the new dementia strategy that the government has been consulting on and which will hopefully see the light of day by the spring, two years after the last one – David Cameron’s “2020 Vision” – was supposed to expire.  For a start, George takes issue with the term “dementia friendly”.  Dementia friendly communities and organisations have certainly raised awareness, he says, “but I have yet to see a truly dementia friendly organisation, let alone community… I see little evidence of real change.  And I still hear stories of younger people forced out of their workplace after a diagnosis, rather than finding a new way to use their skills and experience.”  Perhaps the proposed strategy should float a different expression, he suggests, like “welcoming” or “accessible”.  George adds: “And we shouldn’t really restrict that to dementia.  There are infinite ways in which barriers are erected that prevent people with any kind of disability, ie, not 100% wonderfully fit and well, from engaging and accessing their communities.”  Yes, all this costs money but surely worth every penny if people with dementia are no longer written off as “second class people who can be ignored and hidden away.” 

georgerook51.wordpress.com  

Sad news from Ken Clasper, who announced the end of his long-running Living with Dementia and Comorbidities blog in October.  “After giving it a lot of thought over the last few months, I have decided to finally stop writing this blog now,” he says. “This is for a few reasons, but first and foremost I am struggling to put my thoughts into writing, without saying the wrong thing and sounding rude or aggressive.”  Reading between the lines, it seems that Ken was unable to rekindle his old enthusiasm despite attempts to motivate himself by combing back through his ample blog archive. He reckons it has been read by nearly 360,000 people in 120 countries – “quite an achievement and one I am pleased with.” And it could so easily not have happened at all: “I vaguely remember the fact this blog was started by mistake, but it’s been a journey which I never expected, and led to many new friends over the last few years.” 

ken-kenc2.blogspot.com  

Resources 

Practical suggestions on improving the design of environments in which people with dementia live are central to two new books by a husband and wife team.  Award-winning landscape architect Annie Pollock is author of A Breath of Fresh Air: The importance of air quality in aged care design, while architect Richard Pollock has written Acoustics in Aged Care. The books discuss the effect on quality of life of air quality and acoustics, and give practical advice on what to do. “In my view, [the books] are essential reading,” said dementia care expert Professor Mary Marshall.  “They are absolutely up-to-date, authoritative and well-illustrated.  These are important and often neglected aspects of design.”    A discussion of the books can be heard on the Dementia Centre’s Dementia Podcast and online copies can be downloaded free or hard copies purchased from the website www.dementiacentre.com 

Technology company CareSmart is marketing Connected Care, which supports people with social care needs to live independently in their own homes.  Connected Care kits include what the company describes as discreet activity sensors that can be placed around the home and are connected to a central 4G hub to check that the person is going about their daily activity as expected. 

caresmart.io  

A digital care programme rolled out across the county by Kent Council has won national recognition in the HTN HealthTech Awards.  The project, called Kara, involved successfully equipping 1,700 vulnerable, digitally disadvantaged adults with video “carephones” to overcome social isolation during Covid.  Comprising a one-touch secure tablet device, it provided video-calling to the individual’s support network and allowed council support staff to monitor their care needs.  The programme was delivered by health consultancy Rethink Partners and virtual care company Alcove. 

www.youralcove.com  

New government guidance on care home visiting, which applies in England, introduces new rules in response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.  Additional measures include limiting the number of regular visitors to three (excluding any essential caregivers or pre-school age children), infection prevention and control measures, individual risk assessments, testing arrangements and isolation on return from high-risk activities outside the home.  The guidance was updated on 14 December. 

www.gov.uk  

Scientific backing has been provided for FallSkip, a digital tool that allows clinicians to evaluate an older person’s risk of falling.  According to FallSkip, 30% of people over 65 and 50% of those over 80 fall at least once a year, falls which in more than 70% of cases have clinical consequences.  The device, made by Valencia-based IBV, analyses the person’s biomechanical response when performing particular actions.  According to a paper just published in the International Journal of Older People Nursing (Perez-Ros et al, 14 October), FallSkip has “greater discriminatory power in evaluating the risk of falls than other tools.”  

www.fallskip.com  

My Life, My Goals is a self-help practical guide for helping people in the early stages of dementia achieve their goals.  The step-by-step digital guide, available for download onto a computer, tablet or phone – or to print at home – is published by the University of Exeter, Alzheimer’s Society and Innovations in Dementia.  “Having goals is very important because you can see yourself being able to do something,” says Allison, who lives in Dundonald in Northern Ireland.  The guide, which can be accessed on the Alzheimer’s Society website, offers an individualised approach in which a care partner may be able to help develop practical strategies and support problem-solving. 

www.alzheimers.org.uk  

A paper published online by Cambridge University Press explores housing options to maintain independence among people living with dementia.  The open access scoping review, published in the journal Ageing & Society, is designed to provide a better evidence base for the design of housing adaptations to support everyday life in this group.  It examines which adaptations are being used and what their impact has been on their lives.  The most common adaptations were to compensate for the person’s physical limitations, particularly proneness to falls.  Exploring the contribution of housing adaptations in supporting everyday life for people with dementia: a scoping review (Newton et al, 15 November). 

www.cambridge.org/core/journals   

Find out about LGBT+ inclusive activities by going to the NAPA website, where Mike Phillips is the association’s new inclusion adviser.  In an article (15 November) he describes why LGBT+ care home residents may return to “the closet” on going into care and why it could be important for these residents to have a significant aspect of their life history and identity recognised and validated, and to feel free to engage in meaningful occupation and activities.   

napa-activities.co.uk  

Tips for supporting young people experiencing grief are available on the Dementia UK website, written by Admiral Nurses for Children’s Grief Awareness Week in November. They point out that children experiencing grief may not know how to express their feelings and emphasise the value of reassuring them that it’s ok to feel the way they do.  Referring to the phenomenon of anticipatory grief, they advise that “these feelings can often occur even before the person with dementia has died.” 

www.dementiauk.org  

The British Gymnastics Foundation (BGF) has developed Love to Move, a seated gymnastics programme suited to older people with dementia.  BGF has now made the programme, “designed to get older people moving and functioning better”, available online. “We have seen the positive impact Love to Move can have on the physical and cognitive aspects of older people in the last few years and we want to get the programme out to as many of those self-isolating as possible in order for them to feel the benefits and keep moving,” said BGF head Patrick Bonner.   

britishgymnasticsfoundation.org  

Events 

18 January 

Learning Disability and Dementia 

Online webinar run by the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group in which people with dementia will discuss the issues with professionals. 

www.alzheimers.org.uk  

1-2 March 

Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference 

Takes place in Brighton and is a leading event  for researchers to gain insights from colleagues working across basic, translational and clinical dementia research. 

www.alzheimersresearchuk.org  

14-15 March 

Managers Conference 2022 

Subtitled “Together Again: Regroup, Recovery, Resilience”, the conference in Warwickshire is organised by National Care Forum. 

www.nationalcareforum.org.uk  

25-26 March 

Alzheimer’s Show 2022 

Talks, practical advice and information on services and products all available at this London show. 

www.alzheimersshow.co.uk  

22-23 April 

International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment 

London conference bringing together researchers and practitioners to discuss recent innovations, trends and concerns. 

waset.org  

17 May 

Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 

Meeting in London this flagship annual conference returns, focusing on early and accurate diagnosis. 

www.alzheimers.org.uk  

8-10 June 

35th Global Conference of ADI 

Theme of this London conference will be “New Horizons in dementia: Building on hope,” looking at progress on the global action plan. 

www.alzint.org  

31 July – 4 August 

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 

Scheduled for San Diego but online as well, this annual conference draws top researchers and clinicians from around the world. 

www.alz.org/aaic  

5-7 December 2022 

32nd Alzheimer Europe Conference 

Following the virtual 2021 conference, this annual event is scheduled for Bucharest in 2022 with an international cast of speakers. 

www.alzheimer-europe.org/Conferences