Home News How The Kirkwood bring specialist services to local care homes

5 Feb 2021 Care

How The Kirkwood bring specialist services to local care homes

Over the years The Kirkwood has made strong connections with local care homes across Kirklees, standing side by side with care providers to extend specialist end of life services to those living in care to support their individual needs.

Here’s how The Kirkwood and St Anne’s Community Services work together to support people with learning difficulties who are living with dementia. Together, both teams are able to share skills and knowledge to provide the best quality care to those who need it most...

Based next to The Kirkwood’s In Patient Unit in Dalton, there is St Anne’s Community Services Oxfield Court care home and day centre, which has been known to the team at The Kirkwood for a long number of years. Together, we have developed a partnership to provide support to those requiring specialist palliative care.

The Kirkwood Admiral Nurse for end of life care, Rachel Guest, has a particularly specific role within the team, that is to provide support, advice and training where it is needed to those caring for people living with advance stages of dementia.

Rachel comments: “Dementia is not a normal part of getting older, but one of the risks of developing dementia is ageing. There have been significant improvements in the life expectancy of people with a learning disability over the years; meaning those with a learning difficulty, particularly those with Downs Syndrome have an increased risk of developing dementia.

If a person with a learning disability develops dementia, it is often at a younger age than a person without a learning disability, and that person will face different and additional challenges to people who do not have a learning disability.

My role is to help the care team at Oxfield Court and families to better understand what dementia is so together we can provide a specialised, holistic assessment to support a person’s care due to progression of the disease. I will offer guidance with advance care planning, which allows us to prepare and provide individualised care to a person ensuring that their wishes and needs are met.  When required, I work closely with the care team and the wider MDT at The Kirkwood to assess symptoms of dementia and support personalised approaches to a person’s care and treatment; focusing on what matters most to them and their families right through to their end of life care”.

Marnie Walker, specialist nurse for those with learning difficulties at Oxfield Court has worked in conjunction with the admiral nurses at The Kirkwood for some time. Marnie shares her first-hand experience of working with the nursing team and how support from The Kirkwood has helped to deliver essential care and support plans.

Marnie said: “The relationship we have with Kirkwood is fantastic, we're so spoilt. The role Rachel has played is invaluable. She’s wonderful with the families of those in our care. We introduce her, explain her role and she is able to give families an understanding of what the situation is, from a specialist perspective.

“Whether it’s dementia or another life limiting illness such as cancer, The Kirkwood nurses liaise closely with our staff team, helping them to understand and anticipate what the individual’s needs could be, and how we can meet them. We started reaching out to The Kirkwood when we realised those in our care needed better quality end of life support. The relationship we have now is very strong with both parties working hard to make sure we look after people in the best possible way. It's such a positive experience.”

The partnership is also key for skill sharing, and while there is much the care home team has learned from The Kirkwood nurses, there is also knowledge transferred from the Oxfield staff team, including effective ways to capture someone’s wishes, preferences and values at end of life in a way those with learning difficulties can understand.

Marnie adds: “Through additional funding, we have developed our own care programme called ‘Doing it My Way’. It's strongly based on the standard framework and palliative care principles, but it has been specifically adapted for people with learning disabilities. The programme has proved to be very successful so far. We introduced Rachel at Kirkwood to it and she has been able to share it with other care givers who are able to make use of the specific guidance, making it something that the whole community can benefit from.”

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