The results of a programme offering support to the family and carers of people with dementia in Greater Manchester has been welcomed by Labour MP for Salford and Eccles Hazel Blears at an event on Friday 9th May 2014.
The Family Carers Matter™ programme, designed by the Life Story Network to improve dementia care and support to family carers, was commissioned by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to support families and carers and help them work with their loved ones to capture memories and stories about their life.
Life story work aims to provide individuals with the opportunity to talk about their life experiences, which helps to strengthen the relationship between the person being cared for and their carers, enabling them to better support each other. It also provides information about local support networks and gives family carers the opportunity to meet people in a similar situation.
A number of different methods for capturing the information are explored in life story work – whether this is a DVD, photograph album, collage, life story books, photo-story boards or a memory box – so that family carers can choose whatever method suits their loved one best.
This unique approach also helps care workers to engage in a more meaningful, compassionate and caring relationship with people with dementia and work more closely in partnership with family carers.
As a carer for her mother with dementia, Ms Blears praised the work going on in Greater Manchester to support the family and carers of people with dementia and the wellbeing of people living with the condition. The Family Carers Matter™ programme was delivered to 22 family carers across Bolton, Salford and Trafford from February to May 2014.
The event, held at Prestwich Hospital, showcased the success of this programme and the positive impact it had made to family carers' lives and relationships, not only with the person they are providing care for, but also with staff from the Trust.
One family carer commented:
"Life story work is life changing. My Mum has come back to me as the Mum I know and love. We should talk to our Mum’s and partners about their hopes and dreams. I’ve never given that any thought; only thought about the present and supporting my Dad.
“It never occurred to me that Mum may have dreams and hopes. I can see and feel the difference it’s made in my relationship with Mum. I think it will be great for grandchildren getting more involved. They were cutting her out of conversations but she’s back in the loop where she belongs”.
Ms Blears, who is vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, said: “It was wonderful to hear so many uplifting stories about how the programme has helped to provide the spark which has brought people’s memories to life.
“This can brighten their day and help them to engage with their loved ones and carers, not only about the life story work but also about other aspects of their lives.
“That is a huge source of comfort for everyone concerned and I hope the programme will continue to go from strength to strength and benefit even more local families.”
Gill Drummond, the Trust’s Dementia Quality Lead, said: “Life story work gathers information that is not collected as part of the usual assessment process for using in the care of the person with dementia. We recognise the important contribution carers make and by listening to the family carers of individuals with dementia we can better understand them, the support they need but also the support and help their carers need to continue to look after their loved ones and themselves.
“Having something that is unique to the person with dementia, which is about them, may be something that visitors can look through with the person they are visiting at home or in hospital, or it can be referred to by professionals to learn more about the person they are providing care for. It can be referred to over and over again by the person and their family and friends and can be used as a valuable resource by future carers.”
Anna Gaughan, Chief Executive of Life Story Network, said: “We are very pleased that the Trust has invested in our Family Carers Matters programme, which demonstrates their commitment to support family carers by ensuring better relationships are fostered with families and carers of people with dementia as true partners in care.
“Excellent care and support is all about building meaningful relationships. This involves recognising the uniqueness of the person, their life experiences and relationships with others, which influence not only who they are and how they behave, but also their hopes and wishes for the future. Embedding life story work in practice enables the staff to provide high quality, compassionate care which is what everyone wants to see achieved for the person that we care for.”
Notes for Editors
- Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) provides district mental health services in Bolton, Salford and Trafford. GMW also provides substance misuse services in Salford, Trafford, Wigan and Leigh, Blackburn with Darwen, Central Lancashire and Cumbria.
- GMW delivers specialist mental health and substance misuse inpatient services throughout Greater Manchester and the wider North.
- The Life Story Network (LSN) works with a range of partners (nationally, regionally and locally) to promote the value of using life stories to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of people and communities, particularly those marginalised or made vulnerable through ill health or disability. They are members of the National Dementia Action Alliance and support the national Carers Call to Action. The LSN is based in Liverpool, delivers training and consultancy and facilitates the sharing of good practice in Life Story Work based on a human-rights based approach. The Life Story Network CIC is a Community Interest Company (CIC) in England and Wales. www.lifestorynetwork.org.uk
- Facts on dementia
- There are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2021. This will soar to 1.7 million by 2050.
- 80 per cent of people in care homes have with dementia or severe memory problems.
- Dementia costs the UK over £23 billion each year and this figure will rise to £27 billion per annum by 2018.
- Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the economy £8 billion a year.
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