All posts by Sheena


Make Your Care Home More Dementia Friendly

It is such an important goal for all care homes and care facilities to ensure they enhance and, where possible, improve the quality of life for the residents with dementia. The Kingsfund assessment tool enables Care Homes to do this. It contains seven different sections looking at different aspects of the physical environment and a set of questions for each section. It encourages everyone to become involved in assessing how dementia friendly their care facility is.

Kingsfund Tool

Click here to download the Kingsfund Tool.

This tool was brought to my attention by an independent sector development officer. He talked of the merits of taking a good hard look at your Care Home from the perspective of the person with dementia and he recommended this tool.

It is a real beneficial and practical help to the manager and staff, because it helps to evidence improvements and developments in a Care Home or care service.

We changed many things as a result of using the assessment tool. Some  changes were very small, but overall these changes improved the level of how dementia friendly our Care Home was, and is today.

Each section prompted analysis and improvement. Simple things such as looking how inviting the entrance was, how obvious was the location of the doorbell, and how easy was it to use. This of course not only helps residents with dementia, but also those with diminished sight. The tool re-enforced the importance of group seating to encourage conversation and interaction between residents.

The names plates on bedroom doors were doubled in size to make them more obvious to the resident. We created new signage for the public areas of the Care Home, again making it far more noticeable than previously, but this also included a lot more additional signage to help direct residents around the Care Home.

The garden area was developed to add raised flower beds to give residents the opportunity to enjoy gardening without bending if they did not want to do that. Garden areas were also secured to give residents complete freedom to be outdoors whilst at the same time ensuring their security.

The residents, relatives, staff, management, and other healthcare professionals were involved in the assessment and the residents were consulted and involved in the decision making process. Everyone has learned from and enjoyed the whole experience.

The changes which can be made are in many cases, small and inexpensive, and relatively easy to make. Collectively they help the residents to maintain their independence and enhance their quality of life.

Old hands

“The NHS saved my life” – Stourport grandmother

A GRATEFUL Stourport couple have heaped praise on NHS staff who helped save her life after she was rushed int for emergency treatment.

Jennie Abbotts was taken ill after spending a day with her husband Rob and their grand-daughter Charley Belle on February 22 during the half-term break.

She suffered chronic stomach pains and vomiting and when her condition deteriorated, she was rushed to hospital where she underwent a laparotomy to sort out her twisted bowels – a repeat of a previous condition she had 20 years ago.

But she said the immediate response and dedicated care she received from the 111 NHS helpline, Primary Care at Kidderminster Hospital, paramedics from Dudley and finally Worcestershire Royal are what kept her alive.

She is now recovering at home and, in the week thousands took to London streets in a march to support the NHS, the couple – who have two children each from previous marriages and six grand-children – wanted to give their heartfelt thanks for the support they received.

Mrs Abbotts, a 67-year-old retired Wyre Forest District Council PA, said: “The consultant said had Rob not called for help and had they not operated as quickly then I wouldn’t be here today.

“All the staff were incredible. Firstly, the 111 helpline operator helped ensure I got seen at Kidderminster immediately before Dudley paramedics rushed me to Worcester.

“There is so much negativity about the Royal but I think they are all marvellous. The care was unbelievable. It was a frightening time for us but they were reassuring.

“They are under so much pressure but still did a magnificent, professional job. Of course, the NHS could do with more funding and they would deserve every penny.”

Retired butcher Mr Abbots, aged 66, added: “I just want to thank them all for everything they did. The nurses are modest and say it’s just what they do but they are incredible.”

A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We’re delighted to hear Mrs Abbotts had a positive experience at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

“This case is a great example of NHS organisations working together to deliver efficient and effective care.

“As a Trust we are always pleased to receive positive feedback – which we will share with the staff involved in Mrs Abbotts’ care – and we wish her well in her recovery.”

Sourced by the The Shuttle online

nestle choco

Nestle to slash amount of sugar in chocolate bars by 10% by 2018

Some of the UK’s favourite chocolate bars – including Kit Kats and Yorkies – will contain 10% less sugar by 2018, Nestle has announced.

The confectioner said it would use around 7,500 tonnes less sugar to make its products by next year.

The sugar will be replaced with higher quantities of other existing ingredients or other, non-artificial ingredients

Nestle has said it will use 10% less sugar in its chocolate bars, which include Kit Kats, by 2018

Products will also be kept below a certain amount of calories.

Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.

“Nestle is at the forefront of efforts to research and develop new technology that makes food products better for our consumers.

“These innovations will help us to reduce sugar in confectionery when they are combined with other, more common methods like reformulating recipes and swapping sugar for other, non-artificial ingredients.

“Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love.”

Sourced by the Mail Online


Cancer patient who was given just 18 months to live now has NO TRACE of the disease

A cancer patient given just 18 months to live now has NO TRACE of the disease  after testing a new wonder drug.

Terminally ill Bob Berry was one of the first in the world to take part in the trial after being diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago.

The 60-year-old is just one of just 12 across the world to try the brand new drug, which cannot yet be named.

It has left him with no apparent trace of tumour in his body.

Bob, from Stockport, had tried surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy – all of which were unsuccessful.

Medics told him he had around a year-and-a-half left to live.

But Bob took part in the clinical trial using the drug which combines the drug with an immunotherapy treatment.

His consultant at The Christie, one of the largest cancer treatment centres in Europe, Dr Matthew Krebs, said: “Bob has had a phenomenal response to taking part in this clinical trial.”

Mr Berry said: “Three years ago, I was given 12 – 18 months to live but I have already surpassed that and I feel well.

“At the end of the day, this clinical trial at The Christie has extended my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Source The Sun


Completely ‘locked-in’ patients can communicate

Patients with absolutely no control over their body have finally been able to communicate, say scientists.

A brain-computer interface was used to read the thoughts of patients to answer basic yes-or-no questions.

One man was able to repeatedly refuse permission for his daughter to get married.

The study on four patients in Germany- published in PLOS Biology – also showed they were happy despite the effects of being “locked-in”.

The patients all had advanced forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in which the brain loses the ability to control muscles.

It eventually traps people in their own body – they are able to think, but incapable of moving or talking.

When they become “locked in”, it can still be possible to develop ways of communication using eye movements.

But all the patients in the study were “completely locked in” and could not even move their eyes.

Brain signals

The activity of brain cells can change oxygen levels in the blood, which in turn changes the colour of the blood.

And scientists were able to peer inside the brain using light to detect the blood’s colour, through a technique called near-infrared spectroscopy.

They then asked the patients yes-or-no questions such as: “Your husband’s name is Joachim?” to train a computer to interpret the brain signals.

The system achieved an accuracy of about 75%.

It means questions need to be asked repeatedly in order to be certain of a patient’s answer.

Prof Ujwal Chaudhary, from the Wyss Center in Switzerland where the work was pioneered, told BBC News: “It makes a great difference to their quality of life.

“Imagine if you had no means of communicating and then you could say yes or no – it makes a huge impact.”


Patients who have recovered from locked-in syndrome say being able to communicate makes a huge difference.

Kate Allatt, became locked in for five months when she had a stroke at the age of 39.

Unlike the patients in this study, she became able to communicate when her friends asked her to blink once for yes or twice for no.

She told the BBC: “It was phenomenal, that moment if you could wrap every single Christmas, every single birthday, every single child you’ve ever held in your arms for the first time – that was how exciting it was.”

In one case a daughter wanted the blessing of her completely locked-in father before marrying her boyfriend.

But eight times out of 10 the answer came back no.

“We don’t know why he said no,” said Prof Chaudhary.

“But they got married… nothing can come between love.”

The form of communication is being used for more practical day-to-day means such as finding out if patients are in pain or want a family visit.

Prof John Donoghue, the director of the Wyss Center, told the BBC: “If a person who is totally locked-in is able to communicate, you’re freeing the mind to interact with the world around them.

“That is remarkable.”


Source BBC News


Private cancer therapy ‘crowdfunding rise’

There has been a big leap in the number of cancer patients turning to crowdfunding to pay for treatments not available on the NHS, figures seen by BBC Radio 5 live suggest.

Data from JustGiving shows that 2,348 appeals were set up by cancer patients or their loved ones in 2016, a seven-fold rise on the number for 2015.

Over £4.5m was raised by these appeals in 2016 compared with £530,000 in 2015.

Doctors say the number of patients bypassing the NHS is “very worrying”.

‘Strength and generosity’

Liz Sheppard, a mother-of-three from Mansfield, was diagnosed with small cell stomach cancer – a rare form of the disease – in November 2015.

She has now raised over £135,000 online to help pay for immunotherapy, which she is receiving at a private centre in London.

She has already spent around £60,000 of the money on immunotherapy, and says she is responding well to the treatment.

She told the BBC: “I’m able to get out and lead as normal a life as possible. Certainly I’m not bedridden.

“If it wasn’t for people’s generosity and kindness, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s not something I could have self-funded. Without that money I wouldn’t be here. It means everything.

“I’m a mother. I look at my children every day and they keep me going.

“And the messages people leave when they make a donation can be motivating in themselves. You can draw a lot of strength from them.”

A spokesman for NHS England said: “More people than ever before are surviving cancer thanks to improved NHS care… and together with NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) we have also launched a new-look cancer drugs fund, meaning patients will be able to access promising, new and innovative treatments much quicker.”

According to the detailed figures released by the platform JustGiving, USA, Germany and Mexico topped the most popular destinations for patients travelling abroad for treatments last year.

More than a fifth of those looking for treatment (404 people) raised £1,393,490 in donations to travel to the United States for care.

Germany followed in second place with 142 people crowdfunding £368,530 (a 461% increase from 2015), whilst 23 people raised £69,660 to travel to Mexico for treatment (a 224% increase from 2015).

Immunotherapy was the most popular treatment crowdfunded on the JustGiving platform in 2016.

The therapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight off cancer. It has been shown to work in certain cases, but not all. And some are still in the very early stages of research.

The treatments people have funded are not always considered to have the backing of sufficient scientific evidence by NHS experts.

Charles Wells, chief operations officer for JustGiving, said: “Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen more and more people crowdfunding on JustGiving to raise money for cancer treatments that aren’t available on the NHS.

“It can be a practical way for friends, family and the community to come together and help, as well as providing a lifeline for people by giving them access to pioneering treatments when they’ve been given a cancer diagnosis.”

‘Funding pressures’

Consultant oncologist Dr Clive Peedell expressed concern about the rise in the number of patients bypassing the NHS to fund their own treatment.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “The NHS is clearly financially under pressure at present, but cancer therapy has received preferential funding compared with other diseases and conditions.

“The system for approving effective new cancer drugs is not perfect, but is much improved.

“The vast majority of proven effective treatments for cancer are funded by the NHS.

“This includes immunotherapy for a number of indications including lung cancer, which is my own field.

“However, funding pressures are likely to pressurise the current system even further and we could see it break down in future.

“It is therefore very worrying to see this trend of crowdfunding for cancer drugs.

“It would be interesting to review all the cases to find out how many are genuinely appropriate.

“I worry that some patients may be trying to access treatment that may not be beneficial.

“Worse still, there may be significant extra costs involved, especially if patients pay privately or travel abroad.”

The NHS England spokesman said it was investing £130m in state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment, alongside £200m of funding over two years to improve local cancer services.

Source BBC News



Lack of money for care ‘will leave more people stranded in hospital’ say council leaders

A GROWING number of people in need of social care could be left stranded in hospitals because of “continued underfunding”, council leaders have warned.

Meanwhile, the number of people who had “unmet basic needs”, such as getting washed, dressed or getting out of bed, could also rise, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
Those who got care could face shorter visits from strained carers, the LGA added.The comments came as the LGA, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, warned that the Government’s Care Act was doomed to fail unless more money was allocated to the social care sector.
In a statement, the LGA said that “continued underfunding of social care is making it impossible for local authorities to fulfil their legal duties under the Care Act”.
This could leave the system “on the brink of failing altogether and councils facing the prospect of court challenges”, the LGA added.In its submission to the Treasury ahead of the Budget, the LGA said that if new money was not ploughed into the social care sector then ministers needed to be “honest and upfront” with the public about the level of care that could be provided.A poll conducted by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found that just 8 per cent of directors of adult social care in councils were confident they could meet the full duties of the Care Act in the coming financial year.
Izzi Seccombe, the chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “The Care Act is a really important piece of legislation which the LGA fully supports.”But the intentions and the spirit of the Care Act that aims to help people to live well and independently, are in grave danger of falling apart and failing, unless new funding is announced by government for adult social care.”It is not good enough just to be trying to help someone get washed and dressed, adult social care is about much more than this.”It is about aspiring to help people live their lives to the fullest, and with dignity, not simply just get by. This is the great strength of the Care Act, which unfortunately is now at risk.
“If no new money is urgently announced, then government needs to be honest and upfront with the public about the limitations of the care and support we can provide, and the fact that as a society we will no longer be able to meet the ambitions and objectives of the Care Act.”Janet Morrison, the chief executive of the charity Independent Age, said: “The social care system is chronically underfunded, and this continues to undermine implementation of the Care Act.”The impact of this failure falls on older and disabled people, who can be left without any assistance to carry out day-to-day tasks such as washing or going to the toilet.”Last year, we saw record numbers of people stuck in hospital when they were well enough to leave, because of a failure to put an appropriate care package in place.
“With councils seemingly failing to meet their requirements under the Care Act, the Government needs to find a long-term solution on social care funding that all parties can support.”A Government spokesman said: “Local Authorities have a duty to implement new rights introduced in the Care Act and, while many are already providing high-quality social care services, we will continue to challenge and support those not currently doing so.”We have provided councils with up to £7.6 billion of dedicated funding for social care over the course of this parliament – significant investment to ensure that vulnerable people get affordable and dignified care as our population ages.”Matthew Swindells, NHS England’s national director for operations, said: “This month’s figures show a 42 per cent annual increase in delays in being able to discharge patients as a result of pressures in social care.”Hospitals report this affects their ability to quickly admit emergency A&E patients, so the NHS is working closely with local councils and community health services to enable older patients to get the support they need after a hospital stay, back at home.”Source The Express

‘Dementia is not inevitable’ says David Cameron as he becomes President of Alzheimer’s Research UK

Former Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that ‘dementia is not inevitable’ as he became the new President of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Mr Cameron made dementia a focus of his time in office, and in 2012 launched Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge which aimed to find a treatment or cure by 2025.

“Tackling dementia was a major focus while I was Prime Minister, and although improvements in attention and research innovation have been rapid, it remains one of our greatest health challenges,” he said.

“So I’m delighted to take up the Presidency of Alzheimer’s Research UK, an ambitious charity driving medical research to fight this devastating condition.

“As well as being a world-leading research organisation, the charity is also fighting the misconceptions of dementia that persist in society. Dementia is not inevitable and research is our greatest weapon against it.

“I’m committed to helping Alzheimer’s Research UK transform the lives of those affected by this life-shattering condition.”

The former prime minister says he waned to ensure academics searching for treatments are “properly funded”

“We must win the battle of priorities,” he added. “Cancer research and stroke research deserve all their funding – but dementia shouldn’t be so far behind.

“Dementia steals people’s lives, turns their relationships upside down, destroys their hopes and dreams.”

Welcoming Mr Cameron’s appointment, Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that Mr Cameron had done ‘more than anyone’ to keep dementia high on the world’s agenda.

“As a world leader, Mr Cameron has done more than any other to put dementia on the global agenda, driving an ambition shared by all G7 nations to find a disease-modifying treatment by 2025,” she said.

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is a hugely ambitious and growing charity, uniquely set-up to tackle our greatest medical challenge. We have a clear focus on pioneering research, working with leading scientists across the UK and the world.

“We are committed to bringing together the brightest minds and most innovative ideas in powerful collaborations that reach breakthroughs faster. David Cameron’s support of our work will help us continue our positive growth and further bolster our research efforts, through which we will end the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

Source The Telegraph


Nurse, 55, who allowed a dementia patient to be left in a ‘dangerous and frightening’ equipment cupboard for six hours while she was ‘shivering and hallucinating’ is struck off

A nurse who allowed a dementia patient to be locked overnight in a ‘dangerous and frightening’ cupboard while she was ‘sweating, shivering and suffering hallucinations’ has been struck off.

Supervisor Heather Davies, 55, advised a colleague to push the patient’s bed into an equipment storeroom so she would not disturb others on the ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The woman – who had been distressed and shouting for about one hour – was then left shivering and sweating in the cupboard for six hours.

Heather Davies, who allowed a dementia patient to be locked overnight in a ‘dangerous and frightening’ cupboard while she was ‘sweating, shivering and suffering hallucinations’, has been struck off. The incident took place at Hinchingbrooke hospital, Cambs (pictured)

According to an investigation into the incident, the patient was not given a call bell and was delirious during the episode.

Davies has now been banned from work for 18 months after a panel found her behaviour amounted to misconduct.

Ruling that her fitness to practice was impaired, the panel said the patient’s ‘privacy and dignity’ had been compromised and that her failure to move the patient was ‘deplorable’.

It ruled: ‘She (Davies) did not assess the patient’s overall needs nor did she conduct a safety risk assessment or instruct anyone else to do so.

‘Patient A was suffering from delirium and felt as if she was falling, Mrs Davies should have conducted a full assessment of her condition or instructed another member of staff to do so.’

The incident unfolded on the Cherry Tree Ward – which is generally for elderly patients with conditions such as dementia – in May 2015.

The hearing was told how, when the patient began shouting, the nurse assigned to care for her decided to move her to the corridor.

But when she asked Davies where she could take her, Davies explained that the patient’s bed would not fit into a doctor’s room and that she needed to take her somewhere with double doors, such as the equipment room.

But when another healthcare assistant raised concerns about the patient being in the cupboard, Davies did not move her and instead decided to monitor her ‘periodically’ through the night.

The report said the patient was left in the dark, with an open window, for six hours.

Davies was put under review when an assistant reported the incident.  The probe ruled the room was ‘unacceptable, dangerous and frightening’.

In a statement, she said: ‘I have repeatedly pointed out that I did not carry out this action, and I certainly do not condone it, but as I was the nurse in charge of the ward at the time, I do accept some responsibility for failing to act in the correct manner to prevent the incident from happening in the first place.’

The NMC imposed the 18-month ban because they said there was a risk of repetition.

Source Mail Online


‘Dementia link to sudden low blood pressure and dizziness’

People who experience frequent drops in blood pressure or dizziness when suddenly standing up are at increased risk of dementia, scientists say.

Writing in Plos Medicine they suggest that less blood reaches the brain during these moments, leading to brain cell damage over time.

Dementia experts say this is a “robust study” and “plausible explanation” that needs further investigation.

Charities point out that factors such as smoking carry higher risks.

But they say the work adds to growing evidence that changes in blood pressure have an impact on the brain.


Previous studies have linked high blood pressure to types of dementia.

But in this paper scientists focused on transient periods of low blood pressure – also known as postural hypotension – which become more common in older age.

These episodes can sometimes leave people feeling dizzy or give them “head rushes” when standing up suddenly.

Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center, in the Netherlands, tracked 6,000 people for an average of 15 years.

They found those who suffered repeated periods of low blood pressure on standing were more likely to develop dementia in the years that followed.

Researcher Dr Arfan Ikram said: “Even though the effect can be seen as subtle – with an increased risk of about 4% for people with postural hypotension compared to those without it – so many people suffer from postural hypotension as they get older that it could have a significant impact on the burden of dementia across the world.”

He told the BBC: “If people experience frequent episodes of dizziness on standing, particularly as they get older, they should see their GPs for advice.”

But he added that young people, who have one-off episodes of dizziness when standing up because of dehydration for example, should not be unduly worried.

‘Not death sentence’

Prof Tom Dening, from Nottingham University, described the research as “an important study”.

He added: “The suggestion is that feeling dizzy, which results from a fall in blood pressure, may interfere with the circulation of blood round the brain and that over time, this causes damage which may contribute to dementia.

“This is a plausible hypothesis and has support from other research. It is possible that something else may be going on.”

He said: “A dizzy spell is not a death sentence nor does it mean you are certain to develop dementia.

“On the other hand, if this problem occurs frequently, then it is worth seeing your doctor as there may be remediable causes, for example if you are taking medication it should be reviewed.”

Dr Laura Phipps, of the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “While the risks found in this study are reasonably small compared to other known risk factors for dementia, it adds to a growing and complex picture of how blood pressure changes throughout life can impact the brain.

“As well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure, the best current evidence suggests that not smoking, only drinking in moderation, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping cholesterol levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age,” she said.

Source BBC News