Can one size ever fit all?

A spectrum of needs

It has become quite fashionable these days to apply the concept of a spectrum – traditionally considered in terms of autism (as in being on the autistic spectrum) – to many aspects of our lives. So whether we’re talking about our sexuality, character traits or intelligence, there is a recognition that we may not conveniently fit into one category or another. Having a strong dislike of boxes and labels, I rather like this loosening of definitions, and I’m not surprised to find it true of people’s position on planning for later life as well.

People’s priorities differ wildly as to what is important when discussing the future, so asking what matters to them regarding later life inevitably throws up a huge variety of responses. They might be discussing appropriate adjustments to their home with an occupational therapist but have never considered what level of treatment they want if they get ill. Someone else may already have gone round the local care homes, picked out their favourite and got an Advance Decision in place but is in no hurry to appoint a power of attorney.

How far, and in which direction

There is also huge divergence in where the boundary lies as to how far people are prepared to take the conversation, and in which direction. “I’m not prepared to think about dying but I know exactly what music I want played at my funeral”, “I know I should… I’ll get round to it one day”, “No thanks, it’s not something I’m prepared to talk about”, “I must get this done now, before I need it”, “I’ve got it all sorted and my family know exactly what I want” and so it goes on.

No surprise then that attempts to increase the numbers of people completing advance care plans meet with limited success, when the forms tend to focus on collecting information the healthcare system would like to know, and may fail altogether to address the issues that are important to the individual.

Our approach with the My Future Care Handbook has essentially been one of: ‘Here is the information you need to make some informed decisions about your future, and the tools to act on those decisions. It is now within your power to choose which decisions and actions you wish to take, and when’.

We have aimed to cover everything, with a clear message that not all sections are relevant to everyone. From feedback received it seems there are a variety of approaches taken in terms of how it is used: some like to start at the beginning and work through to the end, others flick through and use the page markers to identify the sections they want to focus on first, and then there are those who dip in and do a bit at a time.

Keeping the scope as wide as possible makes it potentially relevant for every adult, regardless of age or state of health, and that approach was welcomed by Wendy Mitchell. “The front cover does not say it’s for people with dementia, people with cancer, people that are dying. The front cover is saying it’s for everybody.”

That wide remit called for input from a wide range of experts, both professional and by experience. So we were extremely fortunate to have a large group of people give generously of their time to help shape the content, tone and format of the Handbook, and it is undoubtedly the richer for it.

A thousand voices (well, a hundred anyway)

The value of this diversity of input was one of the themes to emerge during a Zoom chat with a group of people living with dementia, who had kindly put the Handbook through its paces.As Agnes Houston put it: “It’s very clear this wasn’t done by a medical professional alone. The carers voices are through it, the voices of the people with long term conditions are through it. That’s what makes it so precious. You usually either get a carer’s view or a professional medical view or you get the view of the person with the long term condition. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything where it is so, so inclusive.”

Wendy Mitchell agreed: “You can tell the minute you start looking through it that it’s not healthcare professional led and that immediately brings you in because it’s not some official thing that you are being told to read.”

That’s such valuable feedback for us, because we knew it would not be enough to provide a fact-filled resource, it had to be something that was going to get those of us reluctant to consider our future (and that’s, let’s face it, most of us) to make a start.

Alison Barclay, carer of her husband Gordon who lives with dementia, admits she’s a procrastinator and would rather do housework than start planning for later life… and she hates housework! But even she acknowledged that ‘if this book doesn’t get me doing it then nothing will.”

Sarah Reed, founder of REAL Communication Works, found she’d completed five or six pages before she’d even noticed. “It’s just so easy to follow. I’ve been thinking about my own will, my own needs… and what was surprising was how easy it was. Filling in a form on a page where you are being asked straightforward questions just makes it so simple. But if someone had asked me what I want, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea!

I didn’t realise…

This is something we frequently hear about one or more of the topics covered in the Handbook, and often from people who thought they’d covered most things. Alison didn’t realise there are now doulas for dying as well as for birthing. Wendy remembered she had not updated both her daughters about her funeral preferences, Frances found it made her think of things she hadn’t considered before.

Person-centred…

Because the Handbook is designed as an interactive workbook, what you end up with is a set of documents and decisions that are unique to you, reflecting your wishes, needs and aspirations for later life, end of life and beyond.

So, one size fits all? That’s perhaps going too far, but what we can say with confidence is that there’s something for everyone in the My Future Care Handbook, and whether you just fancy creating a bucket list, want to prepare a complete Advance Care Plan or need a prop to take the awkwardness out of the conversation with a loved one, all the feedback tells us it will work for you.

Order here. We are happy to send you a single copy for your personal use, or multiple copies for your organisation for your staff or clients.

 

Covid-19 – our response

At Mycarematters we have been discussing what our approach should be in response to the current situation and how we can best serve the community, in the knowledge that it might be a number of months before normal activities can resume.

We would usually be working with hospitals and care homes, attending carers’ groups and other community events to introduce Mycarematters and the new My Future Care Handbook. Those activities are obviously impossible for now, but we are conscious that our products and services are relevant and helpful at this time, so we shall continue to raise awareness and provide such free resources as we are able via social media. This will include a PDF of the Mycarematters profile for anyone to download, plus other information and forms from the My Future Care Handbook to help people take informed decisions around their future care.

We are proud of our policy of proactively seeking out and sharing useful advice, resources and general information on Twitter, of relevance to health and social care professionals and individuals, and have every intention of continuing to do so, through and beyond these current challenging circumstances.

As a not-for-profit social enterprise, our primary purpose is to make a positive difference to people’s lives and to be financially sustainable whilst doing so. Much as we would love to, we do not have the funds to provide all of our products and services for free, but we are actively seeking partnerships with larger organisations to enable us to deliver them at the lowest possible cost. If you think that you / your organisation may be able to benefit from such a partnership, please get in touch!

Return to Mycarematters home page.

My Future Care Handbook

It’s taken dozens of interviews, conversations and consultations, hundreds of survey responses, umpteen articles, reports and books and numerous conferences… and finally we have something to show for it all! Our all new My Future Care Handbook is now available, a fully comprehensive and interactive workbook to help people think about, make and share decisions around their future care.

Originally we set out to produce a guidance tool for health care professionals to help them initiate conversations around advance care planning. However, a major part of Mycarematters’ mission is to empower and engage individuals so as to enable them to take an active role in their own care. It therefore quickly became clear that we should first and foremost be putting this information into the individual’s hands. It needed to be a jargon-free easy read, taking an unthreatening and straightforward approach to what can, for some people, be a challenging topic. Our reviewers think we have got it right:

“Lovely clear, step by step guidance to follow”      “It is user friendly, simple and not intimidating”
 
During our research we learned just how difficult everyone finds it to broach the subject of end-of-life care. Strange, isn’t it, when it’s the one thing that is going to happen to absolutely all of us? And by not discussing how, where and with whom we wish to spend our last days, whether it is quality or quantity of time that is more important to us, we leave our families in an awkward position of not being sure what we’d have wanted, when we may have lost our capacity to make decisions for ourselves. It is said that a good death means a good bereavement, and who would want to make it even harder than it already is for their family?
By providing clear and concise information with practical tasks, action lists and forms to complete, the Handbook offers a gentle and unthreatening way to start a really important conversation. After all, despite some people’s belief to the contrary, talking about it really doesn’t make it more likely to happen!
 
Our research also revealed how much confusion there is about the decisions available to us regarding later life generally. So we set out to cover all the topics that we might want to consider as we approach our later life, with the focus just as much on how we can live well as how we might die well. By making it relevant even to those of us who have yet to face our own mortality, it encourages us to start thinking about these issues much earlier than tends to be the case.
We found a lot of wonderful materials both online and in printed form, but none that put it all together, in an easy-to-use format, so our goal was to provide a resource that covers it all, and here, again, our reviewers are approving:
 
“It is so comprehensive and an absolute mine of useful information.  It will be really helpful to have all of this information in one place…” “There is so much useful information in it!”   “I really like this and the way you have pulled everything together. There’s nothing else out there that does anything like this.”
 
We offer bulk prices for health and social care organisations, hospices, care homes, home care services and community organisations running events like death cafes, with the option of creating copies in your own branding if you wish.
Thanks to the support of Crawley Borough Council and Healthwatch West Sussex, we are able to offer copies to residents of West Sussex for just £4.95 per copy plus P&P (whilst stocks last). Use this discount coupon: WSxHandbook when you check out online. This offer is limited to one Handbook per household. If you wish to order more, please email us on info@mycarematters.org to explain your circumstances.
Buy your copy now, so you can plan for tomorrow and live for today!

Planning for the future matters

Beth Britton, award-winning campaigner, speaker and expert in ageing, health and social care talks about her own experience of future care planning and reviews the soon-to-be-released My Future Care Handbook…

Much like most people who are reading this blog, I don’t like thinking or talking about a time when I or someone I love might be very unwell, lack mental capacity or be approaching the end of life. Yet as my dad always said: “There are only two certainties in life; death and taxes.”

As you might have guessed, my dad was a bit of a pragmatist, which was helpful in terms of dad openly telling us details like where he wanted to be buried long before that time arose. But my dad’s pragmatism didn’t extend to writing down details of his future care wishes, probably because he didn’t expect to spend the last 19 years of his life with vascular dementia.

Dad’s dementia, of course, meant that he eventually lost mental capacity, and like many families, because we neither foresaw this nor had any advice that it would happen, we never instigated any future planning with dad. The result was that dad had no Power of Attorney, no written plans for the type of care he wanted (or didn’t want), and ended up spending the last nine years of his life in three different care homes before he died in April 2012.

Given that my dad was a very private person I don’t think that he would have chosen to become a care home resident, but sadly without documentation those decisions were taken out of our hands by doctors and social workers, and we were left to make the best of the situation. Once dad was in his first care home the trail of paperwork began, and over those nine years countless care plans – including end of life plans – were made, mostly with our input, but often what we contributed amounted to guesswork as we tried to imagine what dad might want. Yes, we knew dad better than anyone, but there is still no substitute for the person’s own voice.

To put this into perspective, the only document from the My Future Care Handbook that we ever had for my dad was a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNR as it was abbreviated to back then), and that was only because the GP at his care home came to speak at one of our Relatives’ meetings and discussed dad’s increasing frailty with us afterwards, recommending that we agree to a DNR which the GP then signed.

In the end did it matter that we didn’t have more documents? As dad’s life ebbed away and in the aftermath of his death http://d4dementia.blogspot.com/2012/06/end-of-life-care-very-personal-story.html in many ways it didn’t, but there is no doubt that having documentation of someone’s personal wishes takes the guesswork out of answering all of the questions you’re asked at what is an absolutely awful time.

These issues feel like they’ve come to greater prominence in the nearly 8 years since my dad died, and I know that the My Future Care Handbook is the culmination of a huge amount of research and work that Zoe, her Mycarematters team and the many professionals who’ve supported it have put into creating what is a fantastically comprehensive resource.

The Handbook is literally a one-stop-shop for anything and everything future care related, and in my feedback I struggled to find much more to recommend for inclusion. What makes this resource particularly useful is how accessible it is. It takes what is a really tough topic and makes it as easy to address as it’s ever going to be.

Of course all the important legal elements are within the Handbook, as well as the guidance multidisciplinary health and care professionals would need to support someone effectively, but it was the less obvious details that I really liked. The ‘Bucket List’ and the ‘Create A Play List’ suggestions were two of my favourites – these are more ‘fun’ activities that make the heavier legal elements easier to approach. And, as you’d expect, the connection with the Mycarematters profile is there, meaning these documents seamlessly link up.

Could I have sat down with my dad and gone through the Handbook without either of us feeling awkward? Yes, I think we could have, and I will probably show the finished product to my mum when it’s available. As for me, having made a Will a few years ago – prompted by my mum updating hers – I guess I’ve begun to think about the future. Our next future care ‘project’ together, for want of a better way of putting it, is for my mum to complete a Power of Attorney. It’s been on our radar for ages, and reading the My Future Care Handbook was another reminder that it will have to be addressed, however hard it is.

To order one or more copies of the My Future Handbook click here.

About the author:

Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care https://www.bethbritton.com.

Photo credit: National Care Forum Managers Conference 2019

Return to mycarematters.org

Should we be planning for what happens after death, or before?

We carried out a survey recently, amongst people living with a life-limiting disease such as dementia (and carers, on their behalf) on their attitudes, knowledge and any actions they have taken regarding their future care. We were particularly interested to find out about the barriers that many of us experience in moving beyond “thinking about it” to actually specifying and recording how we want things to be done for us when we are no longer able to do them for ourselves.

It is a relief to see that most people living with dementia have at least written a Will. Unsurprisingly, 84% in this cohort is well above the 46% (1) of adults across the UK who have done so, and an indication that people do recognise the importance of putting their affairs in order when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

More worryingly, only 16% reported having a full set of advance care planning documents in place. In other words, we place more importance on leaving our instructions about what is to happen after we die, than planning for the days, weeks, months and even years when we might live in a state where we have lost the ability to communicate our wishes.

The survey also revealed that whilst 70% of people who are living with dementia have a financial lasting power of attorney in place, only 64% have arranged a healthcare lasting power of attorney. This seems to suggest that people find it easier to make provisions around their money than their future care and quality of life.

Why should this be? The fact that 40% of respondents who care for a person with dementia are not familiar with the term “Advance Care Planning” provides a clue. Many people may be unaware of the options available to retain some level of control over their future care.

One of the most startling findings in our survey is that the majority of respondents say that they will either “get around to planning their care at some point”, and/or they will “let their family make the decisions when the time comes”.  We’re obviously all either optimists or fatalists, or even fantasists?

It’s strange how we don’t really believe in our own mortality. Of course we ‘know’ that death is a 100% certainty for us all, it’s only a question of how and when. But we can’t quite bring ourselves to recognise that what we see our grandparents, parents and other relatives go through is actually going to happen to us. Why else would the 79-year-old lady I was chatting to recently be so relaxed about not yet having a lasting power of attorney in place? “After all”, she said, “I’m perfectly fit and well at the moment.” And long may she continue to be so. I felt it was not my place to point out to a complete stranger that the risk is obviously increasing with each year of an event taking place that will make her – or more likely her family – regret not having a lasting power of attorney and other documents in place.

Michael Hebb, author of ‘Let’s Talk About Death Over Dinner’, describes western society as ‘death-illiterate’. And in not discussing death, he says, we are not empowered to make decisions. (2)

How then to become ‘death-literate’ and empower ourselves to make those decisions that can considerably improve our experience of later life and eventually our end of life? Perhaps one solution is to have those conversations much earlier. NHS guidance calls for advance care planning to be done in the last year of a person’s life. This may already be far too late to do anything other than crisis management, particularly where a person has lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves. More to the point, it can also be a very awkward topic to raise when you may be focused on doing everything possible to stay alive.

Raising the subject when we’re feeling hale and hearty on the other hand, makes it much more likely that we’ll have a more relaxed and open conversation, because it feels so much more hypothetical. But even then there is uncertainty, our survey confirmed, around the decisions to be made and the various documents to be prepared. Whilst the conversation itself may hold a certain merit, its real value will only be realised when decisions are recorded and then stored in such a way as to be accessible when required by those providing care and support.

We’re taking the learning from our survey and other research to produce the My Future Care Handbook, an interactive document designed to help people make informed decisions around their future care, and then record, store and share those decisions as appropriate. Creating a Mycarematters profile will become one part of that process. We are grateful to everyone who completed the survey for helping us create something that is helpful, valid and relevant.

We look forward to consulting further with people living with dementia, their care partners and health and care professionals when we have the first draft of the document available. If you would like to share a comment or idea about the survey, or you’d like to be involved with the project, please get in touch: info@mycarematters.org. In the meantime, there is something you can do straightaway to start taking control of your future care: create a Mycarematters profile. You never know when you might need a stay in hospital and be unable to communicate your needs. It’s quick and easy to do, and it’s free! Go to https://www.mycarematters.org/register.

Posted by Zoe Harris

(1) https://levisolicitors.co.uk/news/new-statistics-about-wills-in-the-uk/
(2) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/30/remember-you-will-die-tips-for-better-death-michael-hebb

Should personal information be on view?

The carer’s eyes lit up with delight as he spotted that Geoff had been an RAF fighter pilot in his early career. John was obsessed with planes and he chatted away to Geoff about things that meant nothing to me but clearly sparked a response in Geoff because he was beaming and nodding his head.

I’d always felt that Geoff, despite his dementia by now being quite far advanced, was able to understand more than people thought. Because he was generally non-responsive people stopped trying to engage him in any meaningful way, but here he was, becoming quite animated, lifting his head up and making eye contact.

John only knew about Geoff’s flying career because I’d made a note of it on the Care Chart on his bedroom wall. Until I’d put the chart up that kind of information would have remained buried deep in his 100 pages plus care plan in a file on the shelf in the manager’s office. I’m sure John would have searched for a way to engage with Geoff because he was that kind of carer, but this give him an instant way in, and I suspect both of them will have experienced a feeling of wellbeing that lasted long after the brief conversation ended.

It is experiences like those that lie behind our insistence that a person’s Mycarematters profile is visible to all those interacting with them, whether in hospital, in a care home or in their own home. Geoff was in a care home and his care chart was on view to all staff members and visiting professionals. It was particularly helpful to bank or agency staff who had little opportunity to get to know the people they were caring for.

It is even more important during a hospital stay, which can be a highly stressful and confusing experience for someone living with dementia, to provide staff with a way to meaningfully engage with the person they are caring for. Mycarematters enables staff to see the person beyond the dementia, but if that information is hidden away in the file from the people that really need it: the housekeeping staff and volunteers as well as health care assistants, nurses and doctors, those opportunities for meaningful engagement that result in a release of healthy endorphins aiding a quicker recovery, will be missed.

This approach has recently been endorsed by NHS Improvement in their Dementia Assessment and Improvement Framework which recommends that key at a glance information is displayed above the bed (with person’s or carer’s agreement): preferred name, likes, dislikes and enhanced care needs (without breaching confidentiality).

Display Board website 1118That last point about confidentiality seems to be a bit of a challenge: can one display this information and not breach confidentiality? We believe we do achieve that with Mycarematters. When displayed with something like our Display Board, a person’s Mycarematters profile is legible only to those standing reasonably close. In a ward environment it cannot therefore be read by people just passing by.

MCM TNV Image websiteFor those who want still further confidentiality we offer the Twist-N-View hanger which displays an attractive picture on the front with a pocket for a person’s Mycarematters profile on the reverse. So the information is readily to hand but can be turned to the wall when not needed.

We heard a lovely story from one of the first hospitals using Mycarematters, where a member of housekeeping staff serving tea to an elderly lady living with dementia noticed on her Mycarematters profile – on display behind her bed – that she had been brought up on a farm. The member of staff had also been brought up on a farm and spent a delightful few minutes reminiscing with the lady about old times. The details of that conversation may have slipped from the patient’s memory within minutes, but the sense of wellbeing will have remained with her for a lot longer. Those precious moments don’t happen when information is buried away in the file.

Link / back to Mycarematters website.

Zoe Harris cared for her late husband Geoff at home for about five years before he moved to a care home for what turned out to be the final 13 months of his life. It was his experience of hospital stays, respite care and his final months living in a care home that led Zoe to develop the Remember-I’m-Me Care Charts and then the online service Mycarematters.

Mycarematters is shortlisted for Innovating for Ageing competition

Mycarematters has been shortlisted as one of 5 finalists in a ground-breaking national competition run by retirement income provider Just Group and the International Longevity Centre (ILC).

The Innovating for Ageing competition was established in January 2018 by Just Group, with support from ILC, to identify innovative solutions to the most common, intractable problems faced by vulnerable people in later life.

From the 77 submissions entered by policy experts, tech innovators and academic institutions, Mycarematters was chosen as one of the 12 strongest entries by the competition’s independent Advisory Board. We then pitched to an expert judging panel and were one of the five finalists invited to attend the Awards ceremony, hosted by the comedian and broadcaster David Baddiel in London on January 31st.

We were delighted to hear the judges’ endorsement of Mycarematters as a great and simple solution to the important issue of digital and advance care planning. They also commended the different formats available (ie online and offline), meaning there are no technical barriers to people using the solution.

To return to Mycarematters home page click here.

Who is Mycarematters for?

When I first came up with the idea of Mycarematters it was very much with people with dementia in mind, having seen my husband experience some fairly dreadful care through ignorance of the things that mattered to him. However, as the service has evolved and undergone trials it has become clear that we are addressing an issue that effects virtually every person undergoing a stay in hospital. It is likely, after all, that anyone spending time in hospital for whatever reason will have moments when they are unable to express their needs or explain their preferences.

The first person that brought this home to me was a healthcare assistant working on a ward where we were trialling Mycarematters. She showed me her Mycarematters keyfob and explained that she had created a Mycarematters profile because, as a coeliac, she  wanted to be sure she would not be given inappropriate food in the event she found herself in hospital and unable to communicate.

The hospitals conducting those early trials had initially planned to use Mycarematters purely for patients with a dementia diagnosis. They quickly switched to offering it to every patient / their families on the basis that even the most clear-minded and fit person can become confused and anxious in hospital. They may have been admitted with, or develop, a condition like delirium which temporarily prevents them from communicating, and which can increase the likelihood of adverse events such as falls, through ignorance of their mobility needs.

So the quick answer, to the question as to who Mycarematters is for, is everybody! It’s on that list of things we should all do: write a will, appoint a power of attorney, create a Mycarematters profile. You never know what’s round the corner, and how much better to write down your own needs and preferences when you still can, than rely on friends and families’ best guesses at a later date. (You can update it as often as you like, so you’re not setting anything in stone.)

It is free for individuals to create a Mycarematters profile: go to http://www.mycarematters.org for further information and to sign up.

For further information on how to use Mycarematters in your hospital, care home or hospice, please also see http://www.mycarematters.org or email info@mycarematters.org.

When less is more

It’s tempting, isn’t it, when trying to explain something, to keep on using more and more words to get your point across?

We all know how much more difficult it is to say something succinctly than to waffle on. As Blaise Pascal said back in 1657, “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

There are often good reasons for keeping it short, and none more so than in the busy world of healthcare. Families may be asked to provide information about their relative being cared for in hospital, but if the resulting document is pages and pages long the sad reality is that it will rarely get read. Much as the staff want to, they do not have time to sit down and sift out the really important things that will make a difference to the care they deliver.

So when we were developing Mycarematters, keeping it short was an attribute we deliberately retained from the original charts. On those, physical space was the limiting factor but we soon saw how it encouraged people to think carefully and prioritise what was really important. We ask people to do the same when creating a Mycarematters profile online, so that a person’s core needs and preferences can all fit on a single side of A4. In that way, hospital staff will see a snapshot view of the things that matter, and are much more likely to scan their eyes across the printout (or scroll through some brief data online) than rifle through multiple pages.

To return to Mycarematters home page, click here.

Mycarematters is one of nine projects announced for the Essex Challenge Dementia Programme

We’re very proud to have been selected as a finalist for the Essex Challenge Dementia programme. We’re looking forward to working with Essex hospitals, care homes, carers and people living with dementia to further develop Mycarematters in the coming months.

Do you want to create a free Mycarematters profile for yourself, a relative or your care home residents? Click here

Read the full press release from Essex County Council:

Challenge Dementia, the first national search for next generation products, technologies and services that could transform the way people live with dementia in Essex, has reached the next stage with the announcement of nine shortlisted projects.On Wednesday 9 May, a panel of judges, chaired by Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older Peoples’ Mental Health met to consider a shortlist of projects from the 71 entries. They have now invited nine finalists to test and develop their ideas in Essex over a six month period.
The finalists’ ideas range from technological solutions using virtual reality, video and AI systems to support the creation of digital stories, the growth of dementia friendly communities both online and in person, to personalised timelines and systems to trigger memories and holistic care solutions.  All of them have at the heart of their idea or solution the desire to enable people living with dementia to remain connected to the people and places around them and to maintain their identity.
Each will receive £5,000 and access to a unique ecosystem of dementia experts from across the community, voluntary, public and private sector as well as people living with dementia.  £100,000 will be awarded to the winner who successfully meets the entry and judging criteria.
Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia and Older Peoples’ Mental Health said: “I am delighted to have chaired the panel that shortlisted the nine projects that will progress through to the next phase of the Challenge Dementia Prize.  As a panel we have been impressed by Essex County Councils spearheading of this search for a ‘step change’ in dementia. This prize adds to a strong base of work that will help keep dementia in the spotlight and enable us to better support those living with the condition.  Along with the other judges I was highly impressed by the quality and depth of the entries.  I believe we have chosen a range of ideas that have the best potential to transform the way people live with dementia.  I look forward to hearing how they all progress as we head into the testing phase, and meeting with fellow judges again in November to decide on the winning idea.”

Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr John Spence from Essex County Council said:“I am delighted that Essex County Council are at the forefront of this pioneering challenge and have been impressed both by the quality and quantity of entries into the Challenge Dementia Prize.I would like to thank all the judges for taking the day and using their expertise and experience to decide on the nine shortlisted entries.  Having seen the range of ideas and solutions I look forward to hearing how these projects develop during the next six months, knowing that all of them are working hard to improve the lives of those living with dementia.”Further information can be found at the Challenge Dementia webpage  http://challenge-prizes.essex.gov.uk/challenge-dementia/

The shortlisted projects are:

  • The Wayback, The Wayback Team , Hertford
  • Home, EPUT NHS and Accenture Liquid Studio, Essex and London
  • Happy at Home, Active Minds, London
  • Building Creative Communities, University of Essex, Colchester
  • Vivify Me, 11 year old boy, London
  • Remarkable Lives, Remarkable Tech Ltd, Stroud
  • MyCareMatters, My Care Matters Ltd, Horsham
  • Communication without waiting lists, eQuality Time, Luton
  • How Do I?, NFC Helps Me Limited, London

Pioneered by Essex County Council, Challenge Dementia was open to individuals, teams and companies with ideas for ambitious and innovative products, technologies and services that will enable people living with dementia to remain connected to the people and places around them and to maintain their identity.

Mycarematters works in any care setting

We originally designed Mycarematters as a way of reliably sharing a person’s non-medical needs and preferences with hospital staff, wanting to eliminate the delay between admission and collecting the information about what matters to a person, when they can’t communicate those things for themselves.

But of course it works just as well in care homes to ensure everyone interacting with the person is aware of the information they need to deliver person-centred care. There is then the added benefit of a person’s Mycarematters Profile being immediately available in the event the person has to undergo a stay in hospital.

It’s just the same for people being cared for in their own home. It’s ready and waiting for a hospital stay, just in case, but it can also provide visiting carers with a quick introduction of the information they need to provide a more personalised style of care.

A person’s Mycarematters profile can be viewed on any internet linked device but we find that printouts are still the most popular way to display a person’s Profile, and we offer a range of display options to suit all environments: click here for further information…

Wish to create a free Mycarematters profile for yourself, a relative or your care home residents? Click here

Leaflets anyone?

MCM leaflet cutout v2Our design team have created a new leaflet to explain what we’re all about, for those people most likely to undergo a hospital visit, and we need to get them out there! Are you a homecare agency, a memory assessment unit, a carers’ group, GP surgery or any other organisation interacting with people who might benefit from having a Mycarematters Profile?

If so, please email us a brief description of your organisation, the number of leaflets you need and your full postal address, and we’ll get some in the post to you.

It’s entirely free to create a Mycarematters Profile and having one in place can help hospital staff get to know the person beyond the medical condition. It provides information staff need if they are to deliver person-centred and holistic care, and is particularly important if the person will struggle to communicate their needs and preferences.