‘Enhancing quality of life in unrestricted healthcare environments’ was the theme of this year’s annual conference run by St Luke’s and Northridge House Education & Research Centre on 11th – 12th April.
The theme reflects current legislation which places an obligation on healthcare providers to support a person to make their own decisions, where possible, and when not possible, to provide supports to enable that person make their decision. It also ties in with HIQA’s current thematic inspections which is ‘restrictive practices’.
A key part of reducing the use of restrictive practices in healthcare settings is ensuring that care is provided in a person-centred and value-based way – a subject close to our hearts at Ag Eisteacht.
On the second day of the conference, our founder, Dr Maeve Hurley, presented a Masterclass ‘Present and attuned’ exploring the potential of a relational approach to enhance the quality of life for older people. She introduced our ABLE training model (Adopt a relational approach, Build, Listen and Empower) as a framework to support practitioners to be present and attuned
We caught up with Dr Catherine Buckley, Practice Development Lecturer with Northridge House Education & Research Centre, to explore the synergies between her work and our work here at Ag Eisteacht.
Can you explain what ‘unrestrictive practices’ means?
This is all about a person’s right to freedom. For example, ensuring that an individual’s free movement in a residential care setting for older people is not restricted by having unnecessary bed sides up.
It can be anything as simple as having easy access to a safe outdoor space to giving an individual the right to refuse medication to modify behaviour. Healthcare staff and family members may altruistically feel they are doing the right thing for a person’s safety and wellbeing, but actually, the focus has to be on the person’s needs and wants.
In essence, it’s about ensuring that the rights of the person are promoted and that their quality of life is enhanced.
How important are relationships in an elderly care setting?
Like Ag Eisteacht, we believe that relationships are everything. Training staff to see the person and not the disease, oftentimes dementia, ensures dignity and respect for the resident. Taking time to listen to residents – and to their family members to get an insight and understanding into what is going on behind the scenes – nurtures more responsive relationships. Knowing the person, who they are and where they have come from, makes all the difference.
What did you gain from Maeve’s Masterclass?
What struck me was that there are so many synergies between our work. Our shared ethos, interest in relational capacity, and even our way of presenting is in tune!
It was great to be reminded about the importance of listening and to practise listening skills with other attendees.
Maeve and Ag Eisteacht trainer, Rose Crowley, facilitated two sculpt exercise sessions, one of which was about listening, involving an elderly man with early dementia and the decisions facing the family regarding his care.
The majority of the attendees were nurses in residential care settings for older people, so they really identified with this. To see the person who was ‘role playing’ as the nurse address the man directly showed great respect and empathy to his situation.
This session helped participants and those observing to reflect from the perspective of the resident and other family members, and also helped us to think about our own values, beliefs and assumptions.
How important is empathy in a healthcare setting?
It was interesting to see Maeve and Rose cover the three stages of empathy in the Masterclass. It goes back to listening reflectively and listening to understand. This is vital in an elderly care setting. Encouraging healthcare workers to keep the words, ‘I see, I feel, I imagine’ in mind when having conversations keeps the focus on an empathic approach.
What was the feedback like after the conference?
Feedback was extremely positive, with the speakers and the Masterclasses highly rated by attendees. We received some lovely comments such as “very high calibre of speakers, interesting and thought-provoking content” and for Maeve’s Masterclass: “Extremely informative and insightful.”
Northridge House Education and Research Centre’s next annual conference will take place on 2nd and 3rd April 2020. In the meantime, there are many courses, workshops and open evenings available: https://www.northridgehouse.ie/
Ag Eisteacht’s next 3 Day ABLE Training will take May 14th, 28th & 29th in Northridge House Education & Research Centre. Book you place here.