UK Dementia Congress 2016
The 11th UK Dementia Congress ran at the Brighton Centre on 2nd, 3rd and 4th November 2016, attended by over 700 delegates, with participation from professional experts, people living with dementia and carers, health and social care workers as well as specialists in dementia from other sectors including care homes, academia and the creative arts. Organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, in partnership with the University of Bradford and with support from the Alzheimer’s Society, and sponsors Barchester Healthcare and Four Seasons Health Care, there were over 120 different presentations and workshops addressing topics ranging from use of technology, preventing hospital admissions, meaningful activity and end of life care through to design and environment, staff development, and quality of care for people in acute settings, as well as many more topical issues for discussion and debate. Dr Richard Hawkins, editor in chief of the Journal of Dementia Care said, “this is a unique event to celebrate the latest ideas and innovations in dementia care. By learning and taking back to their workplace what they experience here in Brighton, people are making a real difference to individuals, families and communities.”
The Congress got off to a lively start on Tuesday evening with an open debate on whether we should welcome a future of robots, avatars and digital technology in dementia care, chaired by Professor Graham Stokes, Global Director of Dementia Care at BUPA, who asked whether we need a digital mindset for a digital age? Stokes suggested that “we don’t know what we don’t know,” adding “I never knew I needed Google, now I can’t live without it…” Dr Chris Pickford of Salford University spoke about his research in the area of fall prediction using body worn sensors that collect data about how the user moves and can learn about their daily behaviours. The overarching conclusion of the debate was that there was no place for humanoid robots in care, and that people can never be replaced, but there are many areas of technology, for example smart devices, which could support people with dementia. As Professor Arlene Astell (University of Sheffield) noted, communicating and recognising each other as human beings is fundamental to everything we do and that it is beholden on us to connect with those who no longer have a full set of communicative skills. Astell presented on Adaptive Interaction, a new approach to communicating with people with very advanced dementia and which focuses on non-verbal and subvocal exchanges. People with advanced dementia can sometimes appear to be completely unreachable and Astell reminded the audience that communication is always possible.
A key theme which set the tone for the conference was that a rights-based approach is vital in dementia care. As the Dementia Policy Think Tank launched its new guide, ‘Our Dementia, Our Rights’, people with dementia and carers took to the stage in one of the first plenary sessions to say why human rights had a vital role to play in their lives. Maria Walsh, who was 57 when she was diagnosed, listed nine rights that should be asserted by people with dementia, including “the right to be treated well regardless of age or ability.” Walsh said she was “devastated” by her diagnosis and took two years to come out of depression; she said that people with dementia had a right to participate in society and to receive appropriate support, as well as a “right to be offered therapies and treatments. We mustn’t be left to rot, we need stimulation and challenges. If you’re a professional, look for the positives, help us to live well and hopefully, and don’t write us off,” she added. Anna Gaughan, chief executive of Life Story Network, said that progress on the human rights agenda in dementia had been slow. “How much do you really know about what your organisation in the public sector is doing to promote human rights,” she asked. “Sadly I suspect the answer will be very little. We need to ratchet up that progress in a big way.” But Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes, who chaired the session, noted that attitudes had changed fundamentally: “We used to do things ‘to’ people with dementia and their carers, then ‘for’ them, then ‘with’ them, but now we are in a position to say that things are done ‘by’ people with dementia and their carers.”
Hopes of a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease were given a boost by research showing promising results for a drug that inhibits production of the protein underlying the disease. The drugs were described as “really big news” by national clinical director for dementia Alistair Burns, speaking at UKDC. Burns said: “In the next few weeks evidence is expected from a new trial of a drug that can stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks and this is really big news. It is a very significant event and one of the challenges is how we can introduce it so that patients get the right treatment.” Professor Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia and Associate Dean at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, spoke of the challenges for a health service that delivered systems to deal with the problems of the 20th century – single illnesses, heart disease, cancer, diseases that cause death. Stresses on the health system are driven by an inability to deal with complexity and multi-morbidity and most over-75s have three or more conditions. The condition in which there is most multi-morbidity is dementia. 21st century medicine, playing to a set of rules invented for the 20th century – like playing 3D chess by the rules of 2D chess – we lose. There is a necessity for a health system which can manage complexity and an understanding of how some drugs, such as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, work differently on people with dementia. There is also an imperative on professional education to build an understanding and empathy about dementia. Projects such as the Time for Dementia programme, the first of its kind in the world, will help train the healthcare professionals of tomorrow about what it is to be old and ill in society, and with a focus on empathy and understanding, which are much more difficult to build than knowledge. In the programme, 800 medical, nursing and paramedic students spend time with families affected by dementia and the programme is already showing positive results.
UKDC Gallery 2016
Please hover to scroll through images from the UK Dementia Congress 2016 or click to see the full album
A selection of presentations have kindly been made available to download from the recent UK Dementia Congress. CLICK HERE to find out more.
Health Education England
Health Education England shared two films with us, highlighting awareness of dementia in health and social care.
Dedicated Dementia Leads Steam
There was, for the first time, an Acute Hospitals Stream for Dementia Leads at UK Dementia Congress 2016. In his Introduction to the stream, Dr Richard Hawkins, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Dementia Care said the stream was introduced in response to the increasing focus on the care of people living with dementia in hospitals. It was felt that UKDC offered an excellent opportunity for highlighting the issues faced by acute hospitals within a national and multidisciplinary event. Networking and increased communication between all specialties were essential if the challenges were to be overcome.
The presentations which followed addressed some of the key issues in hospitals. Danielle Wilde, Dementia Lead at the Royal Free Hospital described an effective programme of training aimed at lower grades of hospital staff: “You don’t need to be the boss to be a leader”. Danni Woods from Bradford Teaching Hospitals spoke on the importance of differentiating delirium from dementia; this was also addressed in a panel discussion chaired by Vicki Leah, Consultant Nurse for Older People at University College Hospital, London. Kelly Kaye from the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) described the work which the DAA is doing with their Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter, their website www.dementiaaction.org.uk and regional events for Dementia Leads. Going forward the Journal is proposing to make an Acute Hospitals Stream at UK Dementia Congress a permanent fixture and to encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the Journal. The DAA proposes to continue to increase the number of hospitals signed up to the Charter, to expand its website coverage of acute hospitals and grow its regional events.
CLICK HERE to see the full programme from the Dementia Leads Stream from November 3rd 2016
Feedback from UKDC 2016
Please see below a slideshow of our Storify story with tweets and feedback from UKDC 2016. Alternatively, CLICK HERE to view the whole story…
Keynote and plenary speakers
Professor Carol Brayne (top left) is Professor of Public Health Medicine in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge. She is Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health. A medically qualified epidemiologist and public health academic, her research focuses on public health, ageing and the brain.
Professor Alistair Burns (top right) is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry and Vice Dean for the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at The University of Manchester. He is an Honorary Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist in the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MMHSCT) and is the National Clinical Director for Dementia, NHS England.
Professor Sube Banerjee (bottom left) is Professor of Dementia and Associate Dean at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and Director of its Centre for Dementia Studies. Clinically he works as an old age psychiatrist, and his research focuses on quality of life and quality of care in dementia.
Professor Arlene Astell (bottom right) is Ontario Shores Research Chair in Dementia, University of Toronto, Canada and Professor of Health Services Research in the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) at the University of Sheffield, UK. She has over twenty-five years’ experience developing and evaluating interventions, including technology, to support people to live as well as possible with a dementia diagnosis. Arlene and her long-time Collaborator Dr Maggie Ellis have developed Adaptive Interaction, a non-verbal approach to communicating with older adults living with dementia who can no longer speak.
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