Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) launches its support for the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme
The Dementia Friends initiative, set up to change people’s perception of dementia, encourages everyone to learn a little more about the condition by attending a face-to-face Information Session, or by watching an online video. Those who wish to become more involved can also become a Dementia Friends Champion and run their own sessions to help educate others.
RMBI care for older Freemasons and their families through donations from the Masonic community and provide homes for over 1,000 people across England and Wales. The charity is now encouraging staff members to become a Dementia Friend and help create awareness and understanding around dementia.
Staff members at RMBI’s Zetland Court in Bournemouth have shown their support by becoming Dementia Friends, while other staff members have joined together and are planning to climb the Great Orme in Llandudno to raise awareness.
Anne Child, MBE, Pharmacy and Dementia Specialist Lead at RMBI, leading the awareness activity, commented: ‘We’re really excited about getting involved with Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative.
‘We support over 1,000 older people across 17 care homes in England and Wales and we believe that people can still live full and meaningful lives with dementia. It’s vitally important however, that we create a better understanding in the wider public to recognise the symptoms of dementia and how it can affect people, so that we can really support those affected by the condition.’
Brethren from all over the Province of West Lancashire gathered at Brookfield Masonic Hall, in Westhoughton to attend the Provincial Almoners dinner. The guest speaker was Gina Shaw - the star of the current dementia awareness campaign which is running nationally, highlighting the many difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.
Over 150 brethren attend the dinner, which had as its principal guest the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison. The principal visitors included, Gina Shaw, Hazel Bayley from the Alzheimer’s Society Debra Keeling from Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Ray Martland, Harry Cox and David Grainger all of whom are APrGM’s, along with most of the Provincial care team and many lodge almoners and brethren.
After the meal was served the Provincial Grand Almoner, Ernie Greenhalgh proposed a toast to the Provincial Grand Master. Tony thanked Ernie for the very kind proposition of the toast to his health and the ladies, gentlemen and brethren for their kind reception of it.
He continued: “It is an honour for me to be here with you again, at this the third Provincial Almoners Annual Dinner since Ernie was appointed as the Provincial Grand Almoner. I am particularly pleased to be able to officially launch the new care structure which started on 5 October this year. A great deal of work has been completed over the last year by Ernie and his team in order to prepare for the launch of the new system.
Ernie has been supported during the last year by the CEO and officers from the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, the Provincial publicity team and of course the CEOs and their teams in the Central Charities and I thank all of them for their hard work and support.
Last year I said a change in the Care Structure within the Province had my full approval. My cabinet also approved and agreed to support the initiative which we all agreed would further advance and improve care in the Province of West Lancashire.
As Ernie has said on many occasions it has been increasingly apparent that the lodge almoner`s task has in general terms had become too onerous and therefore it was clear that there was a need to reduce his workload, to enable him to carry out the most important function of an almoner - that of pastoral care. I hope that during the next 12 months almoners across the Province will embrace the new structure as it will give them more time to spend visiting their windows and brethren who are ill or in need of support even if that is calling in for a cup of tea and a chat.
I am delighted to welcome Mrs Gina Shaw to our Province and to say how much we are looking forward to hearing what she has to say to us about the many difficulties caused by Alzheimer’s.
In conclusion I wish to take this opportunity to again thank the Provincial Grand Almoner, Ernie Greenhalgh, his deputy, all the members of the care team and all of you, together with almoners across the Province, for the work that they have been undertaking and for all the work that I trust they will continue to undertake as they strive to implement the new care structure for the benefit of all Freemasons and their dependants in West Lancashire.”
Before Gina’s talk the winners of the raffle held during the dinner were drawn. The first prize of a long weekend for four people in a luxury cottage in South Lakeland courtesy of Barry Robinson was won by Bill Hinchliffe, the second prize £100 of Tesco vouchers courtesy of Tesco’s Stores was won by James Simms and the third prize of a pleasure flight for up to three people from Blackpool Airport for up to 45 minutes courtesy of Derek Midgley was won by Alan Jones. The Raffle raised £950 with £500 being donated to Alzheimer’s Society and £450 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity.
Ernie then thanked all the members of the care team for their dedication and hard work they have put in over the past three years under his watch. He said: “By streamlining the system and taking away the administration work, the opportunity occurs for almoners to make an important contribution to the wellbeing of our widows and brethren of all ages by increasing the number of pastoral care visits.”
He then introduced Gina, who has he said: “Unfortunately seen both sides of the problems caused by Alzheimer’s, having been diagnosed as being in the early stages of dementia, Gina is here to speak about her experiences since learning about her health issues.”
Gina thanked Ernie for his introduction and the brethren for their very warm welcome. She then spoke about how she had first encountered dementia when her “Nana” started to show signs of the illness, which she said started with her nana looking for her daughters who were at the time in their 30’s but her nana thought they still lived at home and she could not find them so she was knocking on Gina’s door in the middle of the night.
Gina said that eventually her nana had to go into care which in those days ensured her nana was: “Fed, washed and had clean cloths – but received no care, in the real sense” She said she was pleased to say today’s care homes are far better and offer excellent standards of care and offer new experiences for their clients with dementia. Gina said these include days out, shopping trips etc.
She then spoke about ‘SURF’ Service User Reference Forum which enables people with dementia and their carers to join is with other people living with dementia and carers who meet once a month to drive forward changes in local services in Liverpool and the community. One example Gina gave was a dementia checkout being trialled by Tesco’s in Chester that has pictures of money as many people who have dementia have difficulty managing / counting money.
Another example Gina gave was the need for understanding in shops where people with dementia and their carers need to share changing rooms and due to single gender policy in shops people living with dementia have difficulty trying cloths on as they are unable to cope on their own and need the assistance of their carer who may not be the same gender so can’t go in the changing room. Gina said that some stores in Liverpool One were now offering an area where people living with dementia and their carers can try cloths on – this was thanks to the Mayor of Liverpool who have hosted an evening for retailers, transport operators and emergency servicer to hear about the difficulties encountered by people living with dementia when doing everyday things taken for granted by most people.
Gina also gave an insight into living with dementia, including the change in vision, which she described seeing a mat on the floor appeared to her as a hole in the ground that she would walk around as she was afraid of falling into it. She said some people had very frightening hallucinations and even things as not seeing white meant she had red dinner plates as she could not see the food on a white plate.
At the end of her talk Gina was given a standing ovation by the brethren.
There are now 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and there are estimated to be 670,000 family and friends acting as primary carers
The current financial cost of dementia is £23,000,000,000 a year. Yet this significant spend is often not deployed effectively and is not delivering good outcomes for people with dementia and carers. Many people with dementia and their carers are still not living well with the condition and quality of life remains extremely varied.
Not only do people face potential battles for a diagnosis and support from the health and social care system, but everyday things we all take for granted - having control over daily life, spending time with friends and family, socialising and enjoying hobbies - are made difficult by a lack of understanding of dementia in our communities.
Care homes open their doors
A new initiative is aiming to connect care homes with their local communities, challenge misconceptions and tackle the social isolation felt by many old and vulnerable people.
RRMBI care homes participated in the first National Care Home Open Day. Organised by a group of leading care home providers and associations, it was officially supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, National Care Forum, the Department of Health, the Care Quality Commission, the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA).
RMBI care homes across England and Wales invited their local communities, residents’ friends and families, volunteers and special guests to join them for a range of activities and events. With participation from school children, community groups and other friends and supporters, RMBI homes hosted tea parties, coffee mornings, workshops and games.
Activities for all
Many RMBI homes also promoted Recipes and Reminiscences, the RMBI cookbook, by offering freshly made tasters of recipes featured in the book, such as Jubilee biscuits and fruit cake.
Connaught Court in York held a coffee morning for elderly members of the community, with entertainment from St Oswald’s Primary School. Shannon Court in Surrey offered woodland walks and talks, while residents and visitors at Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex enjoyed a cream tea in the garden. James Terry Court in Croydon celebrated Ascot with cakes and table-top horse racing.
Local MP Madeleine Moon visited Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court in Mid Glamorgan, where an art class was followed by entertainment from Welsh singer Heather Jones. Residents at Ecclesholme in Manchester and Devonshire Court in Leicester welcomed visitors who joined them for ice creams in the garden and activities such as music and poetry workshops.
Edna Petzen, assistant director of marketing, quality and compliance at RMBI, said, ‘National Care Home Open Day is a great way for residents of RMBI care homes to connect with their local communities. It’s also an opportunity to show that our homes are welcoming environments with excellent staff who ensure real quality of life for those in our care.’
RMBI care home Queen Elizabeth Court in Llandudno hosted and delivered a free Carers' Information Programme over a six week period.
The Programme was open to anybody concerned about the onset of dementia within the Home and also to anyone in the wider community.
Six Wednesday evenings were set aside and free respite was offered for those carers bringing relatives with them. Fortunately, those with memory problems who came were able to join in the sessions too. Sessions were delivered in collaboration with local health and social services and the Alzheimer’s Society. As a result of these sessions a readymade formula has been created that can be used again. Debbie Lewis, Home Manager said: “It has helped create really positive relationships with important partners.” The local Consultant Psychiatrist came to every session and delivered two sessions on ‘demystifying dementia’ and ‘hallucinations’. Other sessions covered a basic introduction to ‘person centred care’, ‘the principles of communication’, ‘navigating health and social services’ and ‘diet and nutrition in Dementia’. The final programme covered the theme of ‘carers looking after yourself’ and as a result they can now form the nucleus of an on-going support group.
Carers’ Information Programme is a format the RMBI hopes to repeat in all their Homes so that they can be a real resource and a recognised part of community dementia services.
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.