To celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, we wanted to share part of St. Cuthbert’s Hospice’s research journey, in collaboration with Northumbria University. Specifically, we wanted to share some of the innovative activity that has been taking place in practice surrounding ‘Namaste Care’ and the evaluation of it with Fuse funding.
What is Namaste Care?
As dementia progresses, family carers describe a changing relationship and sense of loss, which can cause significant distress. Finding new ways of communicating is important to help the family carer and person with dementia to maintain a good quality of life. ‘The End-Of-Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia’ (Namaste Care) challenges the perception that people with advanced dementia are a ‘shell’, a ‘living death’; it provides a holistic approach based on the five senses. Early evidence suggest that it can improve communication and the relationships families and friends have with the person with dementia.
How has St. Cuthbert’s Hospice used it?
St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham has started to provide Namaste Care in the person’s own home, as opposed to its more traditional use in care homes. We train volunteers who are then matched with a person with dementia, in terms of personality, abilities and interests, for example. Volunteers visit the person, usually weekly for two hours and try to build a bond with the person living with dementia and the family.
Why did we want an evaluation?
Evaluating Namaste Care has proved challenging for many organisations. It is straightforward to measure reduced number of falls, less infections and reduced agitation, but teasing out the nuances of why the approach works requires more detailed study. Also, we were aware that our use of Namaste was somewhat novel, with only one other hospice in the UK implementing Namaste Care in people’s own homes. A team at Northumbria University, led by Dr Sonia Dalkin applied to the Fuse Pump Prime fund and was successful in attaining a small pot of funding to do some preliminary evaluation of our use of Namaste Care.
What did the evaluation find?
The preliminary research found that when used in people’s own homes Namaste Care has positive outcomes, such as increasing engagement and social interaction. Previously, social interaction had potentially been overlooked in the literature as an important outcome of Namaste Care. This was particularly important for carers who felt that their loved ones with dementia often didn’t have any interaction with others, beyond those living with them. The importance of matched volunteers was also highlighted, and special relationships were built between volunteers and the person with dementia. Family members would often use the time when the volunteer was present as respite as opposed to taking part in the session, and this highlighted interesting perspectives on their involvement in Namaste. The evidence suggested that those who care for a person with dementia at home provide continuous care and have little input from other services, therefore provision of two hours contact with a trained Namaste Care volunteer allowed them to concentrate on other things, knowing that the their loved one was in safe hands. This is in contrast to the usual delivery of Namaste Care in care homes, where family members may feel more able to get involved as they do not provide continuous care.
|Book for organisations and carers |
interested in using the approach
- Delivery of Namaste Care in various settings The ethos of the Namaste Care approach has proved transferable into various care settings at St Cuthbert’s hospice. We now run a Namaste inspired ‘Potting Shed’ Men’s Group and we deliver Namaste Care at the bedside in an acute hospital. We are also in the early stages of discussions about taking Namaste Care into prisons, either via staff training or training prisoner buddies. We are very proud to say that due to this and other work we have been shortlisted as finalists for ‘Best Team Award’ in the 10th National Dementia Care Awards 2019.
- Spreading the word The Hospice has developed a training programme which is steadily gaining popularity. Nicola Kendall (Namaste Lead) has also written a book as a guide for other organisations and carers who are interested in using the approach: ‘Namaste Care for people living with advanced dementia - A practical guide for carers and professionals’. The book is now available from Jessica Kingsley Publishing.
- Research Nicola has just attended the Namaste Care International Conference and continues to take Namaste Care from strength to strength at St Cuthbert’s Hospice. We are now planning to further evaluate our work, building on the findings of the preliminary evaluation and the guide book… Watch this space!