Improving outcomes for people with dementia within acute care settings has long been recognised as a commitment by the Scottish Government. Yet, with the recent launch of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy (2017-2020) (Scottish Government, 2017), there is recognition that although significant progress has been made over the last ten years, wide variations in dementia care and treatment remain evident across Scotland.
People with dementia are estimated to occupy approximately 25% of acute hospital beds (Alzheimer Research UK, 2018) and are known to have longer lengths of stay and poorer outcomes than people who do not have dementia. With a growing ageing population and incidence of dementia, there is no doubt that acute hospital settings require ongoing support to meet current and future dementia care needs.
Person-centredness is at the heart of high-quality dementia care provision. This involves knowing the person and tailoring care to meet their personal abilities, needs, likes and dislikes. There is a plethora of different forms, passports, life story work and personal profile tools which support person-centred care planning by enabling the person with dementia, with support as required, to inform staff about who they are and what is important to them.
The ‘Getting to Know Me’ (GTKM) personal profile tool was created by the National Dementia Consultant network, consisting of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultants and AHP Dementia Consultants in Scotland, in conjunction with the Scottish Government and people with dementia. It is a nationally available and recognised tool which can aid staff working in acute care settings across Scotland to support person-centred care, through helping them to understand the person beyond their diagnosis of dementia.
By knowing people’s strengths and what activities they like to do, staff can support the person with dementia to retain existing skills whist they are in hospital. Likewise, by knowing who and what is important to individuals, can help to alleviate/respond to episodes of stress and distress and support family/carer involvement. However, even though planning for the future is a key part of the process of post-diagnostic support (PDS) within Scotland, people with dementia do not routinely present at hospital with a completed person profile tool and even when documents such as these are in place, there is often no information on how people likes things done or what to say for example when the person with dementia asks for someone who is no longer there.
As a group of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse (ASDNC) and AHP Consultants, we recognise that embedding new practices, such as the use of the GTKM document, takes time, support and commitment. Nevertheless, the wider value of the GTKM as a tool to provide transferable, individualised information to support and embed person-centred care practices across acute care services cannot be underestimated. We believe that there is scope to build on the existing work which has been undertaken to introduce tools such as the GTKM document as a routine part of dementia care within acute services by undertaking further work to:
- Promote completion of GTKM as part of the process of PDS.
- Support acute hospital staff to develop confidence and competence in completing a GTKM document on/during admission if this has not been completed prior to admission.
- Support acute hospital staff in applying information obtained to practice.
- Develop pathways to support the transfer of the document on, during and following admission.
Please let me know if you have come across the GTKM document and if you have any further suggestions as to how its use may further be supported in practice.
Also, please watch out for daily tweets from the ASDNC network on how to complete the GTKM, during Dementia Awareness Week. You are also most welcome to come and “Get to Know Me” and my dementia consultant colleagues by visiting our stall at the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Conference on the 8th June 2018.
Alzheimer Research UK (2018). Dementia Statistics Hub [Online].
Scottish Government (2017). Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy (2017-2020) [Online].
Profile: Susan Holland @Susan_hol1
Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant
Throughout my career as a registered mental health nurse, I have retained a passion for working with older people and a specialist interest in Dementia. I am passionate about improving the care experience of people with dementia, their carer’s and families and of staff involved in providing dementia care. I am extremely proud to work with NHS Ayrshire and Arran and Alzheimer Scotland in the role of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant.