Person-centred practices

Last week was Dementia Care Matters 20th anniversary conference. Gill and I were invited to give a keynote and I know it sounds cheesey, but it really was an honour. Not just that, it resulted in a significant change to my personal mission in relation to care homes. Before I say more about this, a confession. Gill is one of David’s biggest fans, and whilst I absolutely saw David as a kindred spirit in his values, and admired him, I felt in a bit of competition too. Now, I am most definitely moving from any sense of competition to collaboration. This is what has changed my views – four areas that matter and what this means to me.

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‘Moving to teal was much harder than I expected,’ observed Michelle last week. I agree. I had assumed that as we already worked together as a person-centred team, and were self-managing in several ways, that it would be easy. However, stepping up to fully embrace self-management was still a big step, and a step worth taking. This blog describes our progress so far.

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One of the biggest challenges in social care is getting and keeping great staff. I am learning about different ways to recruit personal assistants (P.A.s). Two weeks ago I was part of an assessment day, supporting Jess to recruit personal assistants with her personal budget. This is what I have learned from Jess.

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At a time when we see more shocking reports about how poor some home care services are, and the impact of the cuts, it can be hard to keep believing that we can do more, and do better. Better communication with families may just seem like the icing on the cake. Yet the longest research into happiness published recently confirmed what we knew; that relationships are central to happiness. Here are some ideas of how we can do this, and how organisations are taking this forward.

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One of my favourite gifts is a book. Last year Nic told me about a powerful book that she was reading, and generously sent me a copy. I know to say that ‘the book changed by life’ is a tired cliché, but it had the impact of focusing my work in a way no other book has.
The book was Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’. By the end of the year I had bought and given away a further seven copies. This blog describes how it led to our partnership with Community Integrated Care to change care homes.

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Last Tuesday I was drinking coffee with Rod, in Jonkoping, talking about the presentation we were due to give the next day. My phone rang and I got the call that I knew was coming soon but still not expecting. The message was that my friend and colleague Max had died.
Max was prepared for the end of his life, more than prepared, he faced it head on. He had cancer for the last two years. We had had many conversations (electronic – our favourite kind) about life and death, about contributions and appreciations, and about what needed to be said and done for a good death. We said what we wanted to say to each other – and I asked for and got my ‘legacy instructions’.

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