Researchers at University College London (UCL), funded by the charity, Marie Curie, have developed a novel and innovative way to care for people with dementia in care homes at the end of life, which is published in Palliative Medicine.
Currently, 70 per cent of people in care homes have a form of dementia or severe memory problems. Their care is often fragmented and in some cases people are dying with unrecognised and under-treated symptoms.
The COMPASSION Intervention is made up of three overarching components: Facilitation of integrated multi-disciplinary care; providing training and support for formal and informal carers, and influencing local healthcare commissioning.
The research team is currently testing the model and hope to invite other organisations to assess how it works in practice.
Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs for England at Marie Curie said:
“We know that we have an ageing population and that one in three people born this year can expect to develop dementia. What isn’t as well documented is that due to this growing demographic of people living with dementia, and other terminal illnesses, there will be fewer unpaid carers to meet their care needs. The reality of this is that many of us will rely on care homes to support us as we grow old.
“That makes the progress of this intervention all the more significant and we eagerly await the results of further testing. This is an area of research that is vital but significantly underfunded. We need to learn more about how we can provide high-quality care for people with dementia to ensure the best quality of life for them at the end of life.”
Dr Louise Jones, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department at UCL said:
“Although lots has been written about shortcomings in the care of people with dementia, there is little evidence-based research on how it can improve. We wanted, therefore, to design an intervention that could positively impact on practice and policy.
“The theory and rigour we applied to developing the intervention means we are optimistic that it can positively impact on practice and policy, and that this model can be tailored to other care settings in future.”
The design of the COMPASSION Intervention involved three years of qualitative and quantitative testing, looking at barriers to good care and mechanisms to improve it. Once this process was complete a series of statements were drafted and each was assessed by patients, carers, health and social care professionals, and stakeholders to achieve consensus on the components.