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Gloucestershire’s dementia handbook inspires Australia

The Living Well Handbook (LWH), developed in Gloucestershire to help people living with dementia and their carers, is the inspiration behind the publication of a similar handbook in Australia.

Gloucestershire’s award winning handbook (Success in Partnership Working, South West Health and Social Care Awards 2010), provides useful advice and information, from what to do after a diagnosis of dementia right through to planning future care.

Its national recognition led to interest from health and social care professionals across the world, and teams in Australia decided to adopt the format themselves. They have just published their version of the handbook, Information about Me.

The Living Well Handbook was originally developed by in Gloucestershire, with the Clinical Commissioning Group working alongside carers, people with dementia and partners from Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society and other groups.

June Hennell, whose husband Brian suffered from dementia, was instrumental in developing Gloucestershire’s handbook. She commented:

“When Brian and I attended national dementia events in London between 2009 and 2013, we quickly learned that Gloucestershire was ahead of the game with its proactive approach to dealing with dementia.

Brian and I worked closely with local health and social care teams to produce the Living Well Handbook, and I am delighted that the concept has been adopted by a number of other counties in the UK over the past few years, such as Birmingham.

How satisfying it was then to be approached by Health Authorities in Victoria, Australia asking for permission to adapt our LWH for their own use! We are not only acknowledged in the Australian version, we are also quoted as well! Well done Gloucestershire.”

Dr Hein Le Roux, Clinical Lead for Dementia at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“The Living Well Handbook shows that through health and social care organisations working closely with people living with dementia, their carers and voluntary groups, we can achieve real results for the benefit of our patients, both locally and further afield. I’m really proud that we have been the inspiration behind the Australian version.”

Carolyn Gargiulo, HACC Diversity Advisor with the Department of Health in Victoria, Australia, said:

“The Living Well Handbook resonated with our service providers, carers and people living with dementia in many ways. Important aspects of the handbook included its visual appeal, simplistic language, the relevance of each lifestyle section and its value for staff in different settings such as respite at home, planned activity groups and care facilities.

As for supporting people with dementia, it can only help our health workers to improve on their ability to practise and provide truly person-centred care. It provides a plan that helps staff to provide care that is individualised and responsive to the needs of the person living with dementia, helping them to see beyond the disease and to see the person.Many thanks for allowing us to adapt your resource.”

Containing everything from personal details to current prescriptions, the Living Well Handbook can be accessed by the different services and professionals who provide care and support, including Community Dementia Nurses, Dementia Advisors, domiciliary care staff and GP surgery teams.

It also provides essential information for carers at a time when it’s most needed, which can be anything from advice on council tax benefits to end of life care planning.

The book can develop with the person as their needs change and their condition progresses, so if their communication skills become impaired, their wishes and needs which have been outlined in the booklet can still be found.

The Living Well Handbook is currently being revised and updated. It is available on the following websites:

www.gloucestershireccg.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/LivingWellHandbook_web1.pdf

www.yourewelcome.to/explore/resource/minchinhampton-dementia-friends/living-well-handbook

www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/extra/article/22611/Dementia-Resources-for-Carers-and-Care-Home-Staff

dementiapartnerships.com/resource/gloucestershire-living-well-handbook/

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