[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 10, May 2012].
Housing 21 – Dementia Voice received funding from the King’s Fund for a two-year pilot project employing a dementia specialist community-based End of Life Care Nurse to work with their dementia services team in London. The Dementia Voice Nurse (DVN) Service commenced in December 2008.
This briefing from Housing 21 presents data gathered over 24 months and makes the case for the value of employing a dementia specialist end of life nurse in similar housing and care organisations. Savings achieved as a result of the service – thought to be worth more than £314K over the two years – have resulted in the Dementia Voice Nurse (DVN) becoming a key feature of dementia support services in Westminster, and in the availability of further funding for Housing 21 to extend the service to two other local authorities.
The DVN service achieves savings through the avoidance of preventable hospital, residential and nursing home admissions and avoiding unnecessary usage of ambulance services. Other important considerations are:
- 84% of service users are able to die in their preferred place.
- Many service users are enabled to remain in their homes for longer.
- Diagnoses, care, medication, services and support have improved and increased. There are cases of significantly improved identification and management of pain and depression.
- Case studies demonstrate positive responses in restoring individuals’ dignity, reducing pain, and increasing wellbeing.
- Views from family carers indicate the DVN service enhanced their knowledge and understanding of the person for whom they were caring and gave them the opportunity to plan for end of life care.
- Families are better able to recognise when their relatives are nearing the end of their lives and receive appropriate advice and information regarding planning and decision-making.
- Other services, including those on hospital wards, have changed their practices and procedures in the care of people with dementia following their contact with the DVN.
- Improvements in communication and better co-ordination between existing services have been realised.
Housing 21 (March 2012). The dementia voice nurse service pilot: overview of findings and learning from the evaluation of the two year pilot programme (December 2008 – December 2010). [Beaconsfield]: Research and Evaluation Team; Housing 21 – Dementia Voice, March 2012. Version 1.2.