The NELFT medical education team hosted an older adults special interest educational afternoon with a difference on Thursday 1 November. The event took place at The POD, CEME Centre, and focused on the care of older adults living in care homes with the later stages of dementia, bringing together a multidisciplinary audience from across mental health and community health services and the acute and care home sectors.
The afternoon began with a presentation from Dr Afifa Qazi, AMD for Essex and Kent services and consultant psychiatrist in the south west Essex dementia crisis support team. Dr Qazi described a quality improvement project that she and her team had undertaken to reduce the prescribing of potentially harmful antipsychotic medications to care home residents displaying behavioural disturbance in the context of dementia. By working with care home staff to design a more user-friendly and person-centred behaviour recording chart, the team has encouraged the staff to consider potential psychosocial triggers of behavioural change and has enhanced engagement around searching for non-pharmacological solutions. The benefits have been a reduction in antipsychotic prescribing which, in turn, reduces the risk of falls and stroke, and an improvement in person-centred care.
The second part of the afternoon was a performance by the Az2B Theatre Company of their production “What Do You See?”. Set in a care home, this powerful play, featuring drama, puppetry and mask, explores essential themes such as staff motivation, good leadership and management, person-centred care, life histories and end-of-life palliative care, and highlights how small changes to the caring culture can bring about real improvements in quality of life for the most vulnerable care home residents. The performance was followed by a lively Q&A session.
Dr Mike Devine, consultant psychiatrist in the Barking & Dagenham older adult mental health team and memory service, said:
“Az2B have performed their plays to a wide variety of audiences up and down the country, including health and social care settings, universities, and even the Houses of Parliament, so we were privileged to welcome them to NELFT as part of their current autumn UK tour. Theatre is a unique educational medium and it was a treat for our audience to be both entertained and challenged on so many important issues that we encounter in our day-to-day working lives. I was delighted that we managed to attract staff from across a range of disciplines and sectors, and the afternoon felt like a really positive step towards developing engagement across traditional sector boundaries, to think about how we can all work together more effectively to improve the experience of our patients.”