BU Dementia Institute meeting looks at care homes and dementia


Issues around care homes and dementia were explored at an open meeting held by the Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI).

BUDI aims to support those providing care, through research, service evaluation and education, and the meeting was attended by key stakeholders from across the area – including health professionals and care home providers.

Titled Care Homes: Raising the Standards, the meeting discussed the difficulties faced by many care homes, and considered ways to improve care practices and the quality of life for people with dementia.

Around 70 per cent of those living in care homes will have dementia, and around one third of people with dementia will need to live in a care home at some point.

Professor Anthea Innes, Director of BUDI, said that the idea for the topic came from requests following the Institute’s launch event last year.

She said: “Dementia causes some distinct challenges to care home providers because of the complexity of the care needs, so the idea is to bring people together who are interested in improving their care provision.

“It’s really encouraging to see people wanting to improve the services that they offer to people with dementia.”

She added: “We’ve got a long way to go – there’s lots of training and development work that needs to be done and general awareness-raising about good dementia care, but hopefully we’ve kick-started a discussion.”

Speakers at the meeting included Associate Director of BUDI Michelle Board, who talked about the importance of staff development in care homes, and Dr Jane Murphy, Framework Leader for Health Sciences at BU, who discussed the nutritional needs of dementia patients.

She said: “Food is a very powerful way of understanding that person and using that to provide the best quality of care and ensure that their nutritional needs are met.

“It has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.”

Janet Pitt, a compliance inspector from the Care Quality Commission spoke about standards and the inspection of care homes, before a panel discussion which featured representatives from care homes and dementia charities.

Professor Gail Thomas, Dean of the School of Health and Social Care, opened the meeting.

She said: “In the School of Health and Social Care, our mission is to make people’s lives better and the work of BUDI is instrumental in helping us to achieve that.”

Find out more about Bournemouth University Dementia Institute

BU and Osteoporosis Dorset join forces to prevent falls in older people


Bournemouth University and Osteoporosis Dorset have launched a new alliance to help prevent falls in older people living in Dorset.

The Dorset Alliance to Prevent Falls and Promote Independence (Dorset APP) will bring together a number of complementary organisations in the Dorset area to work more effectively to prevent falls in older people.

It is hoped the Alliance will help to reduce the NHS costs associated with falls among older people by reducing hospital admissions, and will enable members to be better informed of what initiatives are already in place within the region.

David Rhys Jones, Health Communications Manager at Osteoporosis Dorset, said that the alliance will drive forward the common goals of preventing falls and fractures among older people across Dorset.

He said: “The Dorset Alliance will promote the importance of exercise to prevent falls, increase health related quality of life and the ability of older people to live independently.”

Organisations who have already signed up to the Dorset APP include all of the main hospitals in the region, Age UK Bournemouth and Dorchester, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and Bournemouth Older People’s Forum.

Members will be able to work together to share ideas of how to improve best practice, and evaluate and research the effectiveness of care older people receive after a fall, particularly with respect to regaining fitness and confidence.

The Alliance also aims to ensure older people have easy access to the best information possible about exercise and improving balance through a variety of sources, to maintain and enhance their quality of life by ensuring they are fitter and less worried about falling.

It will also listen to older people to find out more about the difficulties they face in maintaining fitness – with a view to improving services and information.

Dr Samuel Nyman, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Bournemouth University, said that the alliance will help drive research forward and put evidence into practice.

“The Dorset Falls Alliance will provide a forum in which new ideas for future research can emerge and be tested, and for research evidence to be more effectively applied in the local region,” he said.

He added this could include initiatives such as a new BU website ( Fresh Balance ) to encourage older people to do strength and balance training to prevent falls.

More information about the Dorset APP can be found on the Osteoporosis Dorset website or by contacting Dr Samuel Nyman on 01202 968179.

Economic downturn affecting wellbeing of older people, BU research finds


The economic downturn is having a marked impact on the wellbeing of ‘asset rich, cash poor’ older people, Bournemouth University researchers have found.

The study looked at the financial challenges facing retired older people, who are often considered to be asset rich but cash poor – owning property but not receiving a large monthly income.

As well as the economic downturn affecting their social, mental and physical wellbeing, researchers found that the income many older people expected when planning for retirement had not come to fruition, and they felt poor in relation to their previous lifestyle and expectations.

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Hean, Associate Professor in Health, Wellbeing and Ageing at BU, said: “It’s really frightening. They have done everything right – saved, got pensions, taken out policies and ISAs and put money into property.

“But the return on investments at the moment is nothing – there is no interest on savings, and they can’t sell their houses. They are just in a terrible place.”

Academics from BU’s School of Health and Social Care and Business School studied the experiences of retired home-owners from across Dorset, who were over the age of 65 and were not in receipt of a means-tested state pension.

They also conducted focus groups with service providers for older people – including health and social care professionals, financial advisors and professionals from the not-for-profit sector.

The research found that older people tended to manage their money carefully, and had an aversion to debt.

But this meant they were sacrificing non-essential activities like holidays, hobbies, and socialising, and worried about unexpected and potentially costly events, like large heating bills and repairs to their homes.

Many interviewees spoke of worry and stress about their financial situation, and the fear of debt and future ability to cope financially.

The study also found that, in order to make ends meet, older people may take greater financial risks or be more vulnerable to abuse.

“There was concern about how vulnerable older people are to exploitation, and they talked a lot about how the economic downturn was stopping people going out, exacerbating their isolation,” said Dr Hean.

“The austerity cuts could have a real impact on services relied on by older people for their social and physical wellbeing – there was one woman who kept going to the library because it was warm and it saved her on heating bills.”

The researchers conducted interviews with 28 older people from both rural areas and urban conurbations within Dorset, and held focus groups with 20 service providers.

They found that older people preferred to go to friends, charities and the media for financial advice, rather than professionals – suggesting a need for more appropriate financial information and support for older people.

“Trust is huge for older people, and a lot of them don’t really trust financial advisers,” Dr Hean said.

“We would like to see greater communication and collaboration between charities, health and social care services and providers from the financial advice sector. Perhaps charities and trusted sources could direct queries to financial services that they had vetted.”

She added: “We have also got to target young people and people mid-career who can still do something about it, as well as those who are about to retire. They need information about how to budget, how to invest and how to make money work for them.”

The research was published by the Research Committee of The Institute for Chartered Accountants, and was funded by the Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research (SATER) and the BU Foundation.

You can read the report in full here