In a project spanning the last four years, we have listened to the experiences of more than 1,600 local people and used this feedback to work with Wiltshire Care Partnership, Wiltshire and Swindon Care Skills Partnership and Alzheimer’s Support, as well as a host of other organisations, to make improvements to services and introduce more support groups across the county.
Working Together to Improve Dementia Services in Wiltshire details the work that has gone in to making these improvements.
What you told us
You told us that training care home staff to a high standard was very important in order to provide good quality care for people with dementia and complex needs.
You also said that you thought specialist services for people living with dementia were high quality but that you weren’t always able to access them.
What we did
We highlighted your concerns about the training of care home staff to Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, who commissioned specialist dementia training for care home staff.
This training was coordinated by Wiltshire Care Partnership and Wiltshire and Swindon Care Skills Partnership, who support providers of residential, nursing and domiciliary care for older people and adults with disabilities. Their training courses were attended by 111 care home managers.
Meanwhile, we worked with Alzheimer’s Support, who provide dementia community services in Wiltshire, to identify areas of the county where there was a lack of groups, the types of groups people wanted and what they valued most from these groups.
Following their training, care home staff told us about the changes they had made, including:
Updating the environment so it's more dementia friendly
- Adapting meal time routines to create a more relaxed atmosphere
- Using more positive language in care plans (eg 'challenging' is now described as 'distressed')
- Responding more to the individual needs of residents.
Jo Howes, CEO of Wiltshire Care Partnership and speaking on behalf of Wiltshire and Swindon Care Skills Partnership, said:
"We were delighted to work together on this important project to deliver specialist dementia training on behalf of care providers across Wiltshire, Swindon and BANES. The positive impact it has had on staff, services and service users is something we are all really proud of."
More community groups
There are now more groups available for people living with dementia which reflect what people told us they wanted, covering interests such as gardening, art and wildlife, as well as more discussion groups, memory cafes and memory sheds.
People living with dementia and their carers told us that these groups have helped improve their mental and physical health and supported them to be more independent, as well as helping them to access more support and information.
Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer's Support, said:
"We now have more than 40 community groups and we are fulfilling our aim to provide a specialist activity group within five miles of every community in Wiltshire.
"Whether it is singing in a Music for the Mind group, doing gentle exercise together or building a community garden, people enjoy getting to know others in their own communities and benefit enormously from staying active and sociable while accessing specialist help and support.
“We used the information gathered by Healthwatch to inform where the groups were most needed and what kinds of activities people wanted to see. It was clear from their research that outdoor activities were popular in our rural county so we have been delighted to launch our hands on wildlife and ‘Muddy Boots’ groups in the North Wiltshire and Salisbury areas, as well as a network of gardening cafes where people can get together to chat about plants over coffee.
"We’ve also doubled the number of carer training courses so we can offer much-needed advice and support to family carers."
Healthwatch Wiltshire Manager, Stacey Sims said:
"Dementia has been a priority area for us over the last four years. We're really pleased to see that the views of local people have been listened to and have been used to make improvements to services - changes which are clearly having a positive impact on people living with dementia and their carers.
"Thank you to everyone who spoke to us so honestly about their experiences and to all the organisations we have worked with to bring about these changes."
Photo above: Corsham Memory Shed (courtesy of Alzheimer's Support)
Find out more
This work is part of a wider project exploring dementia friendly initiatives and services in Wiltshire, with our first report, How Dementia Friendly is Wiltshire? revealing how two thirds of the people we spoke to thought the county was dementia friendly and that they felt part of their community.