Dementia is one of the most challenging issues society faces: in the UK, there are around 750,000 people with a form of the syndrome, and this figure is set to rise in the next 20 years. A recent report from the Alzheimer’s Society showed that two-thirds of people living in care homes have some form of dementia. Debra Keeling, deputy director of Care Operations at the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), said: ‘We found that people with dementia, of varying types and stages, live throughout our care homes. Therefore, as an organisation, we needed to think about how we could adapt, improve and expand our services to meet the needs of the people who live in our homes, in a way that enhances their wellbeing and quality of life.’
A NEW CARE STRATEGY
As a result of the RMBI’s research on the type of care needed by the people using its services, a five-year strategy was approved by the board of trustees in 2009. The RMBI Care Strategy – currently being rolled out in a phased approach to its 17 care homes – focuses on person-centred care, and how quality of life can be improved for individuals using its services. New and improved care-planning documentation has been introduced. This focuses on the individual’s care needs and how this information could be used to infl uence the way care is delivered to ensure that it is meaningful to the individual. Relatives are also encouraged to be involved in the process throughout.
Many homes hold regular relative-support groups for families of people living with dementia that offer both emotional support and advice about all aspects of dementia, with an emphasis on sharing experiences. The RMBI Care Strategy is integral to the working of all departments within the organisation. Closer working relationships have been developed between departments, ensuring that the key goals of the strategy are met, and that any changes required within the care-home environment are implemented in a manner that is appropriate to the people living there. A comprehensive training programme to support staff has also been implemented. Through this investment in training and development, the RMBI aims to equip staff to review the care regime in their local care setting, in order for them to seek ways of removing barriers that hinder relationship-based care. On completion of the strategy, the RMBI will be able to deliver a more person-centred approach to its care provision throughout the organisation.
Matthew Scanlan reports on a pilot scheme
The comedian Bob Hope once quipped, ‘If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.’ And as every Freemason knows, Freemasonry places great emphasis on a generous heart and charitable giving, even though not every member is aware of the charitable help that is available to both himself and his loved ones. Therefore, in the wake of a recent pilot scheme which was specifically launched to help raise awareness of the work of the masonic charities, Freemasonry Today decided to speak with those involved to see how the initiative went.
In September 2009 the four main masonic charities – the Freemasons’ Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund – launched a joint pilot scheme called Freemasonry Cares to try and better inform members about their work.
For seven months the provinces of Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Durham and Yorkshire West Riding piloted the scheme, which focused on informing members and their dependents, as well as lapsed members (those who may have fallen on hard times or who have become too infirm to attend meetings), about the wide range of charitable help and support that they are eligible to apply for in times of need. And in all instances the message was simple: if you have a masonic connection and you are experiencing financial or healthcare problems, contact Freemasonry Cares.
In the words of Eric Heaviside, the Provincial Grand Master of Durham, ‘One of the most surprising things we discovered with Freemasonry Cares was just how many brethren and their families were totally unaware of the potential guidance and assistance available to them. Many simply go to their lodge and afterwards put away their regalia, and that’s it. And many in the province didn’t realise what they were entitled to; for some it never occurs to them to even seek advice in this regard.’
To tackle this shortfall in knowledge, a specially produced booklet was distributed throughout the four pilot provinces to members and widows of deceased masons. The booklets addressed commonly posed questions relating to both eligibility and the type of help available; help that typically ranges from purely financial related issues such as funeral costs or education support, to healthcare and family support, including hospital treatment, respite care and child maintenance. And in every province the booklets seem to have proved an unqualified success.
A key initiative of the scheme, information about which was also featured in the booklets, was the setting up of a confidential helpline number and this also appears to have won universal approval. For as Eric Heaviside once again explained, ‘One of the problems we frequently encounter is that a lot of our people are very proud people and they don’t want to call on charities. But we have tried to explain that it’s Anyone who wishes to contact Freemasonry Cares should ring the confidential helpline number: 0800 035 6090 more of an entitlement and not charity as such, and that appears to have helped somewhat’.
John Clayton, the Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire West Riding, also noted that because calls made to the helpline number are dealt with in strict confidence, a greater number of masons have been encouraged to come forward and enquire about possible help, far more than was the case in the past.
He also pointed out that in the case of Yorkshire West Riding where there were already wellestablished charities such as Provincial Grand Master’s Fund, which in 2009-10 donated £425,662 principally to non-masonic charities, they have noticed an upturn in charitable applications by as much as sixty percent since the launch of the Freemasonry Cares scheme in the autumn of 2009. Therefore it was generally agreed that even in provinces such as this, the new initiative can not only better inform masons and their dependents about the good work of the charities, but it can also provide a boon for public relations.
The conclusion of the Provincial Grand Master of Cambridgeshire, Rodney Wolverson: ‘the initiative was very good, well presented and well thought out, and overall it was received very well, but most importantly, it also shows that Freemasonry really does care’.
This optimism is also borne out by the facts. For during the pilot year the number of grants awarded in the four test-case provinces saw an increase of thirty-six percent on the previous year, compared to a thirteen percent average increase across the rest of the country. Consequently, the initiative is now being rolled out nationally and over the next eighteen months provinces across England and Wales will be invited to introduce Freemasonry Cares in the hope that the pilot success can be repeated across rest of the country.
The Gold Standard Framework supports and works in tandem with RMBI’s ethos on end-of-life care.
James Terry Court in Croydon has recently received a national award recognising their Gold Standard end-of-life care. The Gold Standard Framework (GSF) helps care homes to better care for those residents who are approaching the end of their lives in the way that they receive the care they want, where they want it, protecting them from inappropriate hospital admissions and helping them to live well and die well in the place of their choice.
The Framework supports and works in tandem with RMBI’s ethos on end-of-life care. The RMBI ensures wherever possible those using its services are involved in planning for their end-of-life care. This includes ensuring people are able to have those relatives and friends who are important to them with them at the end of their life, and that they have a dignified death because staff are respectful of their need for privacy, dignity and comfort. Each person’s Care Plan records their wishes with regards to how their body and possessions are handled after their death, and staff respect their values and beliefs.
Diane Collins, manager of James Terry Court, said: ‘Staff at the Home now feel better equipped to deal with the challenging task of looking after residents in the later stages of their life. The GSF provides a useful structure for identifying, and then planning and assessing the care that the individual receives.’
Greater family satisfaction
Care homes that have received the GSF Quality Hallmark Award have demonstrated a halving of hospital deaths and crisis admissions, leading to greater satisfaction for families, residents and staff , and significant cost savings for the NHS.
To qualify for accreditation, staff at James Terry Court undertook the full GSF Care Home Training programme, usually conducted over a nine to twelve month period. This training was then embedded into the home for a further six months and followed by a rigorous accreditation process.
The accreditation is endorsed by all major care homes’ organisations and supported by Age UK. It is also now endorsed by the Skills Academy for Social Care.
All RMBI care homes will be going through the GSF accreditation process to achieve this national award to ensure they continue and build on the high-quality care provided.
RMBI care home James Terry Court in Croydon is currently being rebuilt on site with Phase 1, the East Wing, due to be completed in Summer 2011. The new East Wing facilities will provide up to 47 bedsitting rooms with large communal areas. It will include full en suite wet rooms and ceiling hoists in large, spacious bedrooms, which exceed the Government minimum requirements.
Phase 2 will involve the rebuild of the West Wing, which will begin this Summer and complete in 2012. It will provide a further 28 bedrooms and will also include remodeling and refurbishing of the Home’s main building to provide assisted living flats, where people can live independently with the full knowledge that care is available nearby.
The Home will provide residential, nursing and dementia care and will boast new dining facilities, health and beauty room and reception. The work has been phased so that the current 39 residents face minimum disruption during the building works.
RMBI care home Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court, Mid Glamorgan, has recently opened a new Dementia Support Unit. The unit was created when ten unused rooms on the first floor were refurbished and modernised for residential use. Residents were then moved from the ground floor up to the newly refurbished rooms. The ten ground-floor rooms were then refurbished to create the dementia support unit.
The unit is tastefully decorated with furnishings bringing colour and brightness into the rooms. Soft furnishings such as cushions and throws with different textures have been incorporated because the stimulation of the senses is particularly therapeutic for those who have dementia.
The unit boasts two lounges: one includes music facilities and a television and the other is a relaxation lounge. Both lounges are set up to give a warm homely atmosphere. The kitchen area allows residents to see what food is available at meal times and they are able to choose what they would like to eat.
The doors to each bedroom are designed to look like a person’s own front door, with a colour and a number that the resident chooses or relates to maybe from their own home. All the bedrooms also include en-suite wet rooms.
The unit, though new, is fully occupied and the residents are very comfortable and happy in their new dwellings. The unit will now allow the home to provide specialist dementia care to the local masonic community and also to continue to provide care to those residents whose needs change to requiring specialist support while living at the home.
‘My wife and I are both eighty-five years old and have been living at Shannon Court for the past two years. Although we have various ailments we are both mobile and can read, write and hear. Our home is well suited for its purpose and stands in extensive grounds with a woodland walk which we enjoy from time to time.
‘Our physical care needs are well catered for by loyal, hardworking and qualified carers, attending GPs, medical specialists and a chiropodist. In addition, we feel that our intellectual and social needs are not forgotten as there is a full programme of activities organised every month. As avid readers we make the most of the well-stocked library and the computer suite with its access to the internet.
‘When we get a chance we enjoy a drink at the bar in the home and use the small shop to stock up on our toiletries. We also have our own hairdressing salon at the home which is a bonus for my wife, who still enjoys treating herself to haircuts and pampering from the professional staff.
‘Our move to Shannon Court was seamlessly completed and gives us peace of mind ensured by the RMBI guarantee of lifetime care. We recently celebrated our diamond wedding anniversary at the home where the staff arranged a party for us.
We were so pleased by the kind gesture that we will always remember this day as a special day in our lives.
‘There is a good relationship between staff and residents and the home really has a happy atmosphere – truly a home from home.’
If you would like more information about RMBI services and its homes please visit www.rmbi.org.uk
Since the amputation, Mrs Gordon has been confined to the lounge of the family home where she eats, washes and sleeps. There is a hospital bed within the lounge and at night her eighty-four year-old husband moves a camp bed into the lounge so that he can provide the twenty-four hour care that his wife needs.
Mr Gordon also does all the cooking, cleaning and personal care for his wife. They do receive help from a series of carers who are very supportive and helpful, but the main burden still falls on her husband, who has a heart condition and has had a pacemaker fitted.
Through his own efforts Mr Gordon has secured some funding from his local authority to assist with converting the downstairs of the family home to provide the facilities that Mrs Gordon needs, including a ceiling-mounted hoist. However, the funding fell significantly short of the overall cost and an application was made to the Masonic Samaritan Fund for assistance.
In conjunction with a member of the RMBI care advice team and following a detailed occupational therapist assessment, a grant was approved to meet the shortfall in respect of the costs of adapting the home to meet the specific needs of Mrs Gordon and to provide an electric wheelchair.
The wheelchair has been supplied and is being put to good use already. The building work is nearing completion and will enable Mrs Gordon to move freely about the ground floor of the house without assistance for the first time since before her amputation. The Masonic Samaritan Fund has been able to support the couple in conjunction with the RMBI and the local authority. Collectively, this support will provide a major improvement to the quality of life of a very grateful couple.