Sharing knowledge through visits to dementia services

Sharing knowledge, ideas and feedback through first-hand experiences of HammondCare services is a less visible but important aspect of welcoming guests from 15 nations to HammondCare’s international dementia conference held this month.

HammondCare’s Director of the Dementia Centre A/Prof Colm Cunningham and General Manager of Residential Care, Angela Raguz, took time out of the conference period to consult with special guests including Agnes Houston, her daughter and carer Donna, Philly Hare and Wendy Fleming, on specialist dementia design and care.

Agnes (and Donna) and Philly are both well-known advocates for dementia education, awareness and empowerment in the UK - Agnes also lives with dementia and is the Vice Chair of the European Person With Dementia Working Group. Wendy, of New Zealand, is the honorary Vice President of Alzheimer’s Disease International and has a long record of dementia advocacy and training.

Constant collaboration

HammondCare took the opportunity to share ideas and show these guests through dementia specific cottages at Hammondville. A/Prof Cunningham highlighted the importance of constant collaboration and consultation with people who live with dementia.

“It’s been a pleasure and privilege to have our guests visit our Hammondville cottages. Sharing our design principles with researchers and people living with dementia assists us in furthering our knowledge and understanding. “But it also encourages a great conversation over best practice. We talked about what works for them in the UK and NZ, and what works for us here. As Agnes Houston sits on the advisory board for people living with dementia in Europe, it was a great opportunity to learn of where residential care is heading there, and was encouraging to hear her positive feedback of our designs.”

Design difference noticeable

The guests spent some time in homes which accommodate people at different stages of dementia.

“It was different to see the lack of buzzers, nurses not in uniforms, and the lack of hospital-like designs. It’s something positive that needs to start filtering into Scottish care homes more.” said Agnes Houston. “There was a sense of calmness in the cottages, like a real home. A home is a home, but this is the closest thing to a home that I have ever visited.”

“Yes, it didn’t feel institutionalised,” added Philly Hare.

In her later visit, Wendy Fleming said that HammondCare had “something special” in their cottages and hoped the design principles would become more widespread.

Philly Hare’s particular interests are the empowerment and inclusion of people with dementia, and the application of research evidence to practice.

“The research put into the cottage design and layout was impressive,” said Philly. “Having the kitchen in the centre of the home is great design principle and something that will be good to take back to the UK.”

Agnes, Donna and Philly presented at the HammondCare International Dementia Conference on June 16, 17 2016.