Dementia & Alzheimer's Care
Music based therapy, culinary expertise and more
Introducing Our ReConnect Approach to Dementia Care
Our ReConnect Programme is an overarching philosophy of care for residents living with dementia of all types. It is a commitment to serve the needs of each and every individual within our care and defines our approach to the care we deliver, our training and recruitment and which serves as a tool to allow us to measure our performance in helping each and every one of our residents to live well and with purpose. Read more about our ReConnect programme and its use of life stories and music therapy here.
Our ReConnect Programme
The ReConnect logo represents how each individual is made up of many different elements that interlink and join together to create a whole person. Care must address and reflect each part of a unique individual if it is to be truly person-centred.
Life Story Work
Life Story Work is a central part of our ReConnect strategy. It is often used in memory care settings as a useful way of helping others to understand more about a person. Knowing something of the life story of a resident can help members of the team to engage with an individual in a meaningful and interesting way. Understanding the previous interests, hobbies and routines of a resident helps our teams to maintain opportunities for positive engagement.
By understanding the difficulties that an individual with increasing cognitive impairment may experience, our teams can adapt activities to be failure-free reducing the risk of distress to a resident. Examples of activities in our homes; music including Choirs and Music Clubs; regular outdoor trips; memory boxes and life story boards to support individual and small group reminiscence.
Life Story Work can also help the care team and family members to make sense of the way a person acts and reacts in situations, allowing the right level of support to be given. The care team can provide more detailed information on how life story work is used and how it helps with planning care for a person with dementia, as well as helping others to connect with the person.
Bringing Some Joy and Comfort to Meal Times
Dementia can make the seemingly simple task of choosing what to eat become overwhelming. We offer consistency in meal options to help create familiarity and also provide show plates to help those with dementia make an informed meal choice in the moment. Show plates contain samples of all of the meal options they can choose from that day, allowing residents to smell and taste what’s on offer. Our chefs and care workers are on hand to check that they enjoy their meal and can also step in to offer an alternative should they change their mind.
For some individuals with dementia, using cutlery can become challenging. Our chefs have developed cutlery-free meals that are every bit as appetising as our usual meals. The same choices are on offer but the meals are adapted so cutlery isn’t needed. For example, roast lunches can be adapted into miniature Yorkshire puddings filled with roast beef and horseradish, alongside easy-to-pick-up glazed carrots and parsnips with croquette potatoes. Everyday dishes such as lamb and ale pie, or chips, gravy and vegetables can be transformed into miniature pies, larger-cut chips, mangetout and a dipping pot of gravy. The same flavours, nutrition and beautiful presentation is always maintained.
The joy of food is also embraced through our baking and cookery competitions developed in collaboration with our Head of Dementia Care, Jo Crossland and Head of Well-being, Zahid Khan. These competitions are designed to encourage engagement and participation from our residents, irrespective of their physical or cognitive abilities. It’s a chance to have fun and socialise in groups while making jam or fondant flowers, decorating cakes or cutting out biscuits.
Food brings all of our residents and staff together. Mealtimes are a source of comfort, joy and camaraderie at each of our care homes. It’s why our chefs take such pride in delivering exceptional meals all day, every day.
Find out more about our participation in the annual Dementia Action Week here .
Dementia Nursing Care FAQ
Are Avery staff trained to care for residents with dementia?
Staff working within Avery care homes must be equipped with the right dementia knowledge and training level that corresponds with their job role and responsibilities. Avery’s ReConnect strategy gives staff the knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality, evidence-based, person-centred dementia care. We have a minimal use policy for antipsychotic medication and ensure that our staff are equipped to work with residents who may experience distress using alternative, non-pharmacological approaches to dementia care. Staff receive bespoke and tailored training materials and collaborations with universities for senior staff to access additional learning opportunities. As everyone has a role in ensuring residents with dementia experience high-quality, person-centred care, the ReConnect strategy extends across the entirety of our organisation. This ensures that every staff member at Avery works together to embed the ReConnect strategy in practice.
How are Avery memory care suites designed?
Moving to an Avery care home is a continuation of a person’s life rather than the start of a brand-new and unfamiliar way of living. To reflect this, memory care suites in Avery care homes are designed with a ‘Normalising and Adaptation’ approach which consider the life story, lifestyle and individual preferences of residents who choose to live in our homes. The design and layout of our suites are also important, taking into account visual stimulants. For example, the use of colour is carefully considered to ensure that contrast of tone and colour is achieved sensitively. Primary and clashing colours which can increase the risk of over-stimulation and agitation are avoided. Signage has been specifically selected to be as supportive as possible for people with cognitive difficulties.
How do you measure the quality of dementia care?
Our services are measured in a structured and systematic way to ensure a consistent level of high-quality dementia care. A tailored audit system has been developed that makes sure that staff understand what person-centred dementia care is, how to work in an individual way, and how we evaluate the quality of our dementia care services. This includes the ReConnect Audit as part of the Avery Quality Assurance Programme, an environmental assessment designed by the King’s Fund, the Avery Memory Care Well-being Measure, antipsychotic medication monitoring in line with national guidance, and most importantly, feedback from residents themselves, their families, regulatory bodies and other external partner agencies. By embedding the ReConnect Strategy into our care, we have ensured that every member of staff working in an Avery care home has access to a clear and practical resource to support the delivery of high-quality person-centred dementia care for residents and their loved ones in comfortable and familiar surroundings.
We like to talk about dementia in a straightforward way
For people living with dementia and their families, confronting their situation and seeking appropriate help can present one of life’s most emotional and challenging experiences. Orchestrating that next step comes at a difficult time with a host of conflicted feelings, complicating what is already a difficult task. Often compounded by a sense of urgency due to a deterioration in the person with dementia resulting in a breakdown in care at home, families at this time face a host of possible options.
The process of choosing the right care home marks the beginning of a huge transition for not only the person with dementia but also members of their family, some of who have held a key role in providing care for their loved one at home. It may be necessary, but that does not make it easy. Even minor levels of deterioration can spark a sense of panic and placing someone you love in the care of someone else is a leap of faith for many. But we are here to tell you that for the vast majority of people coming in to our care, a happy and meaningful life is what they can expect.
Families quite naturally want to make the absolute best decisions when choosing a care home, to make sure that their relative can enjoy the very best quality of life whilst receiving the care and support that they now need. We know how important it is to support families during this often difficult time so that they can remain as involved as they want to be, whilst coming to terms with the next stage of their loved ones life.
As an organisation we have championed the work of Dementia Friends, a national charity dedicated to helping people understand and address issues surrounding dementia care. Many Avery care homes have staff who are trained as Dementia Friends Champions, and who run awareness sessions for the families and friends of our residents. These champions have already created over 1,000 new dementia friends, and hope to create many more.
What living WELL with dementia actually means…
At Avery, we are passionate about the way that we support all of our residents and their families, including those living with dementia to live well every day using an integrated, forward-thinking approach to everything that we do.
Because everyone is so different, we want to take the time in person to show you what that could mean for you. The information available on our website is not going to answer all your questions. Instead, it is designed to introduce you to some of the key things to consider when looking at the next steps for a live-in lifestyle that includes being supported with dementia.
We hope to give you an introduction to our philosophy and approach to supporting all of our residents, with and without dementia and their families to be part of the life and community of an Avery Care Home We want to encourage you to take the first steps in achieving the sense of clarity, assurance and relief that you need, by getting in touch with us.
In Avery, you have found an organisation that you can move forward with, as a family, as an individual, and in a relationship with us.
At Avery, we understand.
You need to know that Avery runs over 50 care homes that are supporting people with and without dementia to live well and purposeful lives and that we have been doing this for many years. You should also know that our approach is guided by rigorous academic thinking and the latest research from our working relationship with Leeds Beckett University. In all our homes we can guide you to the latest, most person-centered dementia care, and to show you what living well with dementia looks like.
You also need to know that there is a realistic vision within your reach, of life in a care home with a positive, forward-looking team, who appreciate the challenges ahead and approach it with energy, conviction and creativity.