Research into provision of the best care possible for patients with advanced dementia who are terminally ill is relatively under-supported, so leading health charities are urging the Prime Minister to include this as a priority within his “dementia challenge”. Their efforts appear not to have gone unheeded, because the Dementia Health and Care Champion Group have already included improving end of life care for people with dementia as one of their main activities.
This BBC Health News article reports on a new approach to caring for people with severe dementia which is being trialed in several care homes in south London. The programme is called “Namaste“, meaning here “honouring the spirit within”. This approach has been developed for care home residents with severe dementia. Such patients may no longer be able to communicate effectively, may be immobile, are prone to infections, often have difficulty swallowing and may suffer from pain. The approach is to soothe the senses of these patients in a supportive communal environment, to calming soundtrack of birdsong (for example).
The Park Avenue care home in Bromley in Kent introduced the Namaste programme last summer. The Namaste programme trial is currently underway at six care homes in south London, and should provide insights into advanced dementia care with potential for use more broadly. The study is led by Jo Hockley (Consultant Nurse) at St Christopher’s Hospice.
“Central to this approach is a recognition that residents with severe dementia are terminally ill, and so the priority is to provide peace and comfort through palliative care”.
Brimelow, A. (2012). Severe dementia care: Homes try new approach. London: BBC Health News, May 4th 2012.