Using leadership development to improve the quality of care provided to people living with dementia

December 21, 2022


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With more people living with dementia, it’s important that care home leaders feel well equipped in supporting those living with it.  Dr Caroline Chill, the Clinical Director for the Healthy Ageing Programme at the Health Innovation Network (HIN), spoke at the 16th UK Dementia Congress in Birmingham on how we can use leadership development to improve care for people living with dementia.

At the HIN, helping develop skills of those working in the health and care systems is one of our top priorities. Our flagship programme aimed at professional development in the care sector is the South London Care Home Pioneers Leadership Programme, facilitated in partnership with My Home Life England. Having recently completed its fourth cohort, the programme has helped over 70 care home managers and senior staff across south London to develop their skills, share learning and become champions for improving dementia care in their local area.

Dr Chill used the presentation to explore the Service Improvement Projects, which Pioneers undertook as part of the programme within their homes, many of which focus on care home residents living with dementia. To celebrate the work that the senior care home staff have been doing, we interviewed, and filmed two Pioneers from care homes in Bromley: Natasha Leslie and Nicola Orme. Nicola focused on helping relatives understand more about dementia while Natasha explained how she had introduced activities to respond to ‘sundowning’ – a period of agitation commonly experienced by people living with dementia in the late afternoon.

Nicola found that families’ understanding of dementia had increased following her Service Improvement Project, scoring on average 3.0 on a pre-workshop questionnaire and 4.75 post-workshop. Natasha also reported residents felt more supported and engaged in activities, with fewer incidents in the care homes such as falls and behaviours of concern. This had a knock-on effect with fewer 999 and 111 calls. Both projects have made a difference in the quality of care for residents, as well as a reduction in complaints and improvement in relationships between residents, staff, and their families. You can watch the full interview below.

“Presenting at the 16th UK Dementia Congress was a great opportunity to showcase the achievements of care home staff and to demonstrate the importance and value of quality improvement work in care home settings.” Dr Caroline Chill, Clinical Director, Healthy Ageing, Health Innovation Network

More information on the programme

The South London Care Home Pioneers Programme is a leadership support and professional development programme delivered to Care Home Managers, Deputies, and Senior Nurses to advance their skills, facilitate personal growth and help them manage the complex everyday issues that impact on the quality of their service. The programme consists of a combination of four workshops, three which cover the managing of self, others, and change, and one service improvement workshop. Additionally, participants on the programme undergo nine monthly action learning sets, which involve experiential learning through a continuous process of action and reflection, supported by colleagues. The Pioneers on the programme also benefit from working alongside mentors from the HIN, who provide support to deliver a service improvement project within their care homes.

If you would like to learn more about dementia, and understand how it affects the brain and memories, take a look at this video from Dementia UK. Alternatively, if you are interested in learning more about the Care Home Pioneer Programme and how it can support leaders to deal with the complexities of dementia, please get in touch.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more on the Care Home Pioneers programme and our work supporting people living with dementia, please get in touch.

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