So the UK government has decided to launch a three-pronged initiative to help those who have dementia or care for someone who has it. Their plan is to encourage the early detection of memory problems, improve the quality of care received in care homes, and have also pledged to invest in research that may one day offer a cure.
These are great ideals – the problem is that they are coming at a time of NHS cutbacks. Care agencies are businesses working to a model that needs to generate profits in order to continue to deliver the service. If we want better care then we will have to pay for it one way or another.
Dementia clinics or memory assessment clinics have a long waiting list and patients can face intervals of several months between outpatient appointments. Early detection of dementia will be useful for the carers of these patients as hopefully it will enable them to link up with local support groups earlier, but unless extra investment goes into providing more dementia clinic appointment slots the patients will inevitably be looking at an even longer wait before their memory clinic appointments.
Increasing the detection rates of dementia is probably the most straightforward prong of the governments dementia plan. Funding research into dementia is unlikely to result in benefits to dementia patients over the next 15 years. It’s a bit like trying to find a cure to the ageing process.
The care patients receive in care homes is however something that can be improved upon. There are some great care homes, and there are some not so great care homes. How can we encourage care home owners to adopt the behaviours of the really excellent homes? I have a suggestion. This is only a suggestion and does not represent the views of any organisation I am associated with.
Care Home Dashboard
Each care home receives a point for each of the following attributes, giving a top score of 5. Carers and patients rate the home from their experience over the past 1 month. The homes in a region can then be ranked according to their performance with the results published on a webpage. The homes performance over a 12 month period can be displayed as a run time graph, so progress is easy to spot.
I propose the following scoring system . 1 point for each attribute seen.
No smell of urine In the home.
Nominated named carer or carer team.
Activities that are appropriately stimulating
Decoration that is of decent quality and welcoming
Good levels of lighting.
The dashboard league table concept has been constructively used by several health organisations, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement
I don’t know if this has been applied to care homes before.
Please feel free to comment on this idea. Do you know of similar rating schemes as this?
Could it work?
Please comment by clicking on the speech bubble or through twitter as @stuartberry1
Some people have suggested there should sort of patient wellbeing score. This could be included but it would make the scoring less transparent?
The Dashboard approach would not be intented as the only method for comparing care homes – but it could complment things.