Jewish Care home becomes first in UK to launch pioneering dementia care programme

DementiAbility uses activities and items with which residents have a personal connection


Jewish Care staff celebrate DementiAbility accreditation at Jewish Care's Kun Mor and George Kiss Home (Photo: Jewish Care)

A Jewish Care home has become the first in the country to be awarded accreditation to run a pioneering new programme to care for people living with dementia.

Jewish Care’s Kun Mor and George Kiss Home in Barnet, north London, has been piloting the new DementiAbility programme ahead of Dementia Awareness Week this week.

The staff underwent training and received certification. Developed in Canada, DementiAbility was created with the goal of improving the quality of life for people living with dementia in care homes.

It enables staff to make connections between the individual, their life story, the environment and behaviour to identify opportunities for engagement and new stimulating activities which support individual autonomy.

The concept is evidence-based and draws on research from multiple disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience and memory studies. One key element is linking residents with items or activities they have a personal connection to, while being encouraged and supported to remain in control of their daily choices, which stimulates memories and improves cognition.

Among the new DementiAbility initiatives that have become popular at the Kun Mor and George Kiss Home is a breakfast buffet and trolly which has “boosted independence, empowering people to make choices they always made at home,” said Penny Johns, Jewish Care dementia practitioner.

Another technique which carers have found works for some residents has been giving them dolls inside a cosy nursery area in one of the lounges, promoting “relaxation and providing familiar feelings of comfort”, said Johns.

She said the success of doll therapy was not gender-specific, with some residents being “moved by the sensation of holding a doll, connecting them emotionally to a time when they held young children or grandchildren of their own”.

Jewish Care staff learned from the relatives of one resident that he had been a taxi driver and had always taken pride in washing his car every weekend. With this knowledge, staff set about inviting the resident to clean garden furniture in the summer, so other residents could enjoy sitting out. This occupied him “with a sense of purpose and contentment, as did lending a hand cleaning up after flower-arranging and art. His social needs were met, and his relationships improved,” said Johns.

Training for the programme was piloted at the care home with care teams and hospitality staff participating in workshops over two days.

Jewish Care has recently been shortlisted as finalists in two industry awards for the new programme, including Best for Specialist Care Award in the Care Home Awards and Dementia Trainer and Workforce Development Award in The Dementia Care Awards. In addition, they are also finalists in the Outstanding Care Homes category for the Care Homes Awards.

Yomi Essiet, registered manager of the Kun Mor and George Kiss Home, said: “The smile on [the faces of residents with dementia] and their improved mental wellbeing we have observed is evidence that DementiAbility is working positively in their best interest.”

Jewish Care’s CEO, Daniel Carmel-Brown, said they were “so proud” of being recognised “for leading the way in dementia care”.

He added: “To be the first to receive DementiAbility accreditation makes our Kun Mor and George Kiss Home a flagship care home in the community and nationwide, providing an engaging and stimulating care home environment for people living with dementia.”

Being shortlisted as finalists for two national awards for this programme was “testament to the strength of this programme and the commitment of our staff to provide the best dementia care”, he said.

According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there are currently around 944,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and this figure is set to rise to 1.6 million by 2050.

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