A day at the Alzheimer’s Show

Javid Khalique, a CQC Expert by Experience, writes about the day he spent at the Alzheimer’s Show in London.

Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, gave an excellent and informative presentation at the Olympia London Alzheimer’s show on the 8th June 2018. She addressed a full audience hall of carers, people living with dementia and organisations working in dementia care on the CQC’s rapidly progressing drive for “Mending the Cracks in the Pathway” in dementia care. Andrea spoke not only from the CQC’s professional in-depth evidence base, but also from her personal experiences and this was very well received by the audience.

“We expect care for people living with dementia to be personalised.
“Quality matters and this needs collective, workforce-trained effort from everyone, to meet the Mum (or anyone you love) test.”
Andrea Sutcliffe, CQC’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care

She built bridges. Andrea mentioned the newly published Driving Improvements — Case Studies from nine adult social care services (June 2018), and Celebrating good Care — Championing Outstanding Care (April 2017). She mentioned that, “We expect care for people living with dementia to be personalised. Quality matters and this needs collective, workforce-trained effort from everyone, to meet the Mum (or anyone you love) test.” Andrea positively commented on the valuable role of Choice Support’s Experts by Experience involvement in inspections and the CQC role as an independent regulator of health and care services.

There were a large number of exhibitor stalls — over sixty — and one was held by the CQC. The stall was managed by a very friendly and brilliant team. There was lots of information provided and latest publications were available. Most of the time, there was a large queue of people needing to have a chat, to collect information and ask questions. The CQC team had a very busy day indeed. The team had an outstanding, busy and highly successful day in getting the CQC message across. A really useful and productive day.

CQC and Choice Support team (L-R): Javid Khalique (ExE), Temi Akintujoye, Lizzy Dobres, Sandy Hampson, Jen Charlton

The exhibition was very well attended with people from all ages and backgrounds coming and going all day. The majority of the exhibitors were commercial organisations who were promoting their care services or products to the marketplace. The main target area for their involvement seemed to be the residential and nursing care home sector. But there were also things that could be very useful for keeping people living at home with dementia safe and active. This was particularly so with assistive care technologies for memory prompts, fall protection and epileptic seizure detection alarms.

Other stalls presented their use of memory stimulants through assistive technologies. The CQC and Choice Support may be interested in this. Many people living with dementia, or otherwise unable to leave their residential care bedrooms, may not get a lot of daily interactive stimulation. The fast development of well evaluated participative games with sensory stimuli at the persons pace could be very useful. It would certainly help in improving performance and meaningfulness to the responsive, effective and caring domains of inspections.

There was also an exhibition on singing as a therapeutic activity in dementia. And of course, doing reminiscence work with people living with dementia. The content, though, seems to be largely locked in a roseate post-war nationalism. This of course warrants celebration. But it forgets the rich diversity that forms the majority of society and the contribution and struggles of that diversity. Their narratives could greatly benefit from being expressed, given a voice and applauded also. Some new materials would be very useful.

Tomasz Nicpon, adult social care inspector at CQC

Many useful smaller presentations on dementia related issues were available for exhibition visitors to attend. Tomasz Nicpon, an adult social care inspector at CQC, presented to a heavily oversubscribed group (with people standing to listen) on “End of life care for people living with dementia”. He spoke very practically on the key issues of assessing pain and discomfort in such situations, on medication that may be needed, the risks involved in chewing and swallowing and of the extensive “comfort measures” that people coming to the end of their lives may need. Tomasz also promoted driving forward improvements in social care in dementia.

It was refreshing to see the Salford University initiative to involve people living with dementia and their carer’s in research so that it is fully informed by their voices. Their work put into practice the words of Professor Sally Davies (Chief Medical Officer for England), who said that, “Every patient should have the opportunity to participate in appropriate research which is relevant to her or him.”

The day at Olympia passed very quickly. It was useful for carers and people living with dementia. It would be highly beneficial to have such events in other locations including the East Midlands. Many older people in their eighties would find it hard financially to travel long distances to attend. Smaller, targeted local events would be most welcome and attract audiences.

In the plenary session, a doctor said, “Dementia has come out of the shadows in recent times with much less shame and stigma. Don’t hide it.” Keith Oliver, a retired head teacher living with dementia, spoke as a passionate advocate. He told an appreciative audience, “Dementia doesn’t define me. My name does!”

Andrea Sutcliffe mentioned, “Carers, who powerfully advocate for their loved ones, probably get a better care service. Care plans should be personalised to what you and your family members want.”