As we approach Christmas, join Colm and Claire McCarthy, Head of HammondCare Foundation, as they discuss the important work of the Foundation in raising funds to support people with dementia.
In “Talking Engagement: HammondCare’s Christmas Appeal” we hear how this year’s Christmas fundraising event “Get on board” is about providing opportunities for our listeners to be involved in supporting residents in our care, including those with dementia, to experience activities that promote engagement, independence and wellbeing.
People with dementia can feel isolated from family and friends and the COVID-19 pandemic has only enhanced this. “Get on board” is about reconnecting residents through the purchase of wheelchair accessible buses, so they can get back to doing the things that matter to them.
Colm and Claire also give some helpful tips on how to support a person with dementia to have a joyous time at Christmas celebrations, including how to engage the person in traditional Christmas activities, ensuring the environment isn’t too overwhelming, and providing a quiet space for rest.
To find out more about HammondCare’s Christmas Appeal go to “Get on board”.
Hello to you and welcome to this festive edition of The Dementia Podcast. Today it's actually an appeal on behalf of Hammondcare's Foundation, their Christmas appeal. I'm so glad to support this on the dementia podcast. Because to be honest, the Dementia Center has benefited greatly from the donations that have allowed us to do research, innovate, learn and share knowledge. So we're very thankful to all the donors that support Hammondcare's foundation. To have this conversation. I'm going to be joined by the head of Hammondcare's Foundation. And that's Claire McCarthy. So you're going to have two Irish voices, because she's from the lovely county of cork. And together, we're going to explore a little bit about the appeal and focus on the foundation. In addition to finding out about the foundation, you'll also hear about some of what we've learned through the foundation and also some tips about how to support people with dementia at Christmas. Hello, Claire, welcome to the dementia podcast.Claire McCarthy:
Thank you Colm lovely to be here.Colm Cunningham:
Now, we are in the season of Christmas. So before we start to talk about your important work, tell me what Christmas means to you.Claire McCarthy:
Oh Colm. Christmas to me will always be home in Cork. It's twinkling lights, it's picking Holly out in the countryside. It's going to Mass on Christmas morning. And but this year is a very sad Christmas for us because my dad died of pancreatic cancer on the 23rd of December last year. So sadly, I was in Australia, and I had to tune in via Zoom for his funeral, which was less than ideal. So it's going to be a poignant Christmas. And I will be in Australia for Christmas this year and taking myself and my husband down to the south coast just to put my feet into the sand, connect with nature and and have a different Christmas. Well, we'll be thinking, thank you,Colm Cunningham:
Now Claire, tell our listeners what is the Hammondcare Foundation.Claire McCarthy:
At the very core, the Hammondcare Foundation exists and has been in existence for 10 years to raise funds through philanthropy and fundraising that will enhance programs across Hammondcare. So where government funding stops, foundation steps in. And it's thanks to our very generous donor community that we can continue to enhance programs and care across HammondCare.Colm Cunningham:
Well, Claire, you know, that obviously in my role research is a very important part of our work. So tell me about that in relation to the five pillars of the foundation.Claire McCarthy:
Yeah, so we have five focus areas for funding across the Hammondcare Foundation, and one of them is research. So we fund important research projects that will improve quality of life for people living with dementia. Now we have a focus on innovative environmental design, assistive technology, enhancing social interaction and reviewing models of care to ensure consistent assessment and provision of appropriate interventions. Now two projects that really took my my area of interest and Colm I might be leaning on you to expand on them. Terminal agitation. And of course, the advance project now the advanced project supports frontline staff to help them initiate conversations about advanced care planning. But you really can expand that's that's my area of knowledge to the to the end, but can you step in and tell us what terminal agitation is?Colm Cunningham:
Well, terminal agitation is a term that we've started to use more and more to call out some of the great complexities that can occur when somebody is actually palliative with dementia, and one of the things is an agitation that relates to symptoms that the person is getting in those last few months or last few weeks of life. And so what we've realized is that bringing together our differentiators of palliative and dementia care to improve the pathway and assessment is something that is key because we've developed knowledge and skills in this area through our work in complex dementia, but we probably haven't developed the maturity of information, skills and tools that actually help everybody who's working and supporting people with dementia when they're palliative to address those particularly those terminal agitation behaviors. So for example, most people when they think about somebody being palliative, will think about somebody being in a bed and being relatively needing all assistance where somebody with dementia who might pass away in the next few weeks might actually still standing up, pushing people away, and not fitting the typical criteria that we all expect. But yet when we talk to our very skilled staff, they know exactly what's going on. So what we want to do is really develop a maturity of knowledge and, and pathway there and share that.Claire McCarthy:
So Hammondcare is really well placed with implementing research data and findings into our care.Colm Cunningham:
Absolutely. For example, we've been working with 93 of our clients who've been identified as having this and researching, what were we seeing were the consistent cues and patterns that we would want to call out. Some are very simple, Claire. And that's what the beauty of having that differentiator in palliative care as well as the conversation that our newer palliative care specialists have around, would you be surprised if this person passed away in the next six months? Asking that question, out loud, suddenly creates a pause. And of course, in in cancer care, and that, it's a familiar conversation. But in a dementia care, because dementia can often be a 10 year journey for everybody, not just the family, we might not be picking up on the important cues that are about the person being in that palliative phase. So it's all of those things.Claire McCarthy:
And of course, can we know from the findings of the Royal Commission into aged care, the importance of palliative care across all streams of aged care, and and the advanced project? Again, as I was saying, like that, that's something that really sticks with me, because I think, for for those in our care, particularly for frontline staff, the importance of being able to initiate a conversation that is delicate, it's not an easy one to start. And it's beautiful to see Hammondcare being able to use resources through fundraising and philanthropy to make things like this happen. But we can only do it, thanks to our donor community.Colm Cunningham:
Oh, absolutely. And I know another area that's a real passion for you is that, and COVID brought that even more to the fore is isolation and the importance of engagement. And I think that's something you guys are particularly passionate about in the foundation,Claire McCarthy:
we are Colm and and for, in particular, I think everybody can now understand and empathize with isolation. Because as us being Irish, we know what it has been like not to be able to just get on a plane and go home. So when at the foundation, we were considering our Christmas appeal, this was the area that came up for all of us, because we went now we know what it's like, can you imagine being in care, and having something as simple as an outing into your community taken from you. So what we decided in the team was we went across the business identified with the residential care managers and the the head of the residential care, what are the areas that need funding, and they said, definitely having a bus available, that when there's an opportunity to go out and reconnect with a community, that is going to make a huge difference. So we are raising, hopefully $250,000 That means that we can purchase purpose built buses, to take residents out into the community. And I just want to share with you that we are in regular contact with the residential care managers. And it was really heartening to hear feedback because we can only do what we do based on knowledge key. So one of the residential care managers said they took some of the residents recently when the lockdown restrictions lifted that took them on a trip to the beach. One gentleman was sitting on a bench overlooking the beach and he said, I haven't seen this for so long. I thought all of this was gone. I mean, that just that gives me goosebumps because I think I think of me going back to Ireland and thinking golly you know, what's it gonna be like to reconnect? For that man, that was only one person. There are so many who have been denied it. So our Christmas campaign has kicked off. We're asking people to get on board help us to buy those buses. We can go online. If you go onto theColm Cunningham:
How do we do that? Hammond Care website, and it will take you straight to our donation page. And we would invite all our listeners to join our donor community who keep us keep us going. But just to make that connection possible for our residents, and also for those who are providing the care because they get as much joy. It's not just an outing like it is that connection to the community another another resident said I just want to be able to go and buy my own stuff. Yeah, I don't want to be relying on somebody else. So it is that independence in, it is so much about connection. Yeah, I think we all can empathize with now. Absolutely. And actually, when you started talking about how you were going to look after yourself, this Christmas, and you were talking with the sand I've often thought about that is particularly, because obviously, we are talking to you from Australia and beaches are a very important part of life here. When's the last time that persons felt some between their toes? So I was just thinking about that gentleman, and all those little things that help them connect. SoClaire McCarthy:
And engagement doesn't have to be a big thing. engagement can be that simple thing and Colm I'm probably repeating stories that you've told me. But if it's folding clothes, if it is helping to make dinner, if it is the simple act of human touch, sitting with somebody and holding their hand, that's engagement and they eat I don't think we can overcomplicate it about saying, Well, you know what's in a bus trip? Yeah, it can simply being taken out of the home that you've been cared in, and taken out for a trip, passing the school that you might have been in as a child, or are going to the shop.Colm Cunningham:
And really, it's the opportunity for relationship based care, which we're so passionate about, how do we create those moments and those opportunities, which is why, as you know, you talked about shop series was so excited with the work we're doing to develop our shops to create greater engagement opportunities for everybody.Claire McCarthy:
That's right, Um Colm. I had the fortune during our between the two lockdowns to visit to Hammondcare Caulfield village in Victoria, and to see that village and when we talk, we go way back to our way and we talk about again, it takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a village to care for somebody who is living with dementia or living in aged care. And when I visited Caulfield village and walked into the shop, see the hairdresser, you think yeah, I you know, I could live here. This is this is really lovely. Because there's that sense of community. What I felt at Caulfield was it was like, You were wrapped in a very safe pair of hands. And when we're talking about caring for people who are aged, frail, living with dementia, don't you want to see your loved one in that environment?Colm Cunningham:
So Claire, the foundation again, just to remind us on the HammondcareClaire McCarthy:
website, yes, you can go to our donate page. And there's also beautiful stories there and images that capture exactly what the the bus trips, mean. Now we are all there's other ways of giving back throughout Hammond care. And for our listeners who have time for volunteering, we cannot overestimate the importance of volunteers and what they mean across all areas of Hammondcare. Now what we have over 600 volunteers and we really rely on them for for being the touch points that we can't always get into, you often find that people will open up to volunteers in a way that they may not necessarily open up to somebody who's on staff. Yeah. The we have a very, very highly skilled team of volunteers. And I love how volunteers are considered light staff. And it's about matching skill sets across the business. We work in the foundation very closely with the volunteers and we're delighted to have access to them. Now there's also the opportunity to community fundraise. So anybody who's up for a challenge we love a challenge out or even just for a birthday, if you would like to give donations to the Hammondcare Foundation, I want to share Colm a lovely story of a young man who notified us that he was going to run a marathon, thank God, he wasn't asking us to run with him. And he was running a marathon in memory of a beloved granddad, who died in Hammondcare. And he was so appreciative of the care that his darling granddad had, he ran a marathon for us. So, you know, we look at aged care, but it's the the connections that come off of that. And when you're looking at the young people who are so grateful to see, their grandparents or great aunts and uncles in our care. It's just heartening, we get at the foundation, we get the best stories. And there's also the opportunity, of course, for those who it's just not possible financially to leave a donation in whilst they're alive. There's always the opportunity to leave a gift in your will. And we talk about that from a legacy piece. It's the opportunity to leave a legacy so we have plenty of opportunities to give.Colm Cunningham:
Well Claire we're thankful for you and the team because you make a lot possible across HammondCare so we're very thankful to the Foundation team for all the ideas you are a sponge of wanting to know all the things that you can do to make change happen for the people we serve. So we're very thankful for that.Claire McCarthy:
Thank you, Colm. And I really want to give a huge shout out of gratitude, endless gratitude to our donor community, because we can't do what we do without our donor community. And I talk about you are the ones that keep the heart and Hammond care. But Colm I'd like to talk to you for a second, I have a question for you. With your expertise, and with Christmas approaching, do you have some tips on how we can support and connect with a person with dementia at this time? What should we be mindful of coming up to Christmas? And during the Christmas holidays?Colm Cunningham:
Oh, gosh, now, there's loads Claire. I guess one of the things I'd say is that we know that dementia, or Firstly, we know that people are living longer, and that is a great thing, there are more people living longer, healthier lives. But with that comes the reality. So the primary cause of death in women, for example, is dementia. So dementia does affect a lot of women. And when I think about that, one of my tips would be the generation who have dementia now will have been the matriarchs running the show in their home. So when I think immediately about tips, I think, how is that person gonna feel if all of that taken away from them, and everybody's doing for them? So the first thing I would say is, where is that person going to sit? If they're not able to do everything, you don't want them sitting with their back at the dinner table to everything coming in behind them. And equally in the living room. If everything's happening behind them noise, and all of that can actually wind all of us up. It's a very busy time, lots of people arriving. So giving that person a seat, a key position and a great seat that they can see what's going on even better if you can think what of the preparation they could be involved in? Why can't they be doing I think for those who do the, the cuts at the on the bottom of the brussel sprouts, you know, that person, it's relatively straightforward tasks, that would be one thing is make sure that person's engaged and able to see what's going on. And secondly, make sure that others are pacing, what's happening. So if you're open, suddenly, everybody's opening their presence at once. It can be a cacophony of sound and activity. So maybe we say, why don't we do three gifts each or whatever, and just pace it to that person's part of the journey. The other thing is, we got to think about their carer who probably is supporting them 24/7 365 days a year. So it might be an opportunity that you you go for a walk with the person with dementia so that the carer has some time. The last thing I've certainly found is useful is to think about what room in the house will be set aside for retreat. Because if all of it is just a little bit too much, where's the place that the person can maybe go and have a nap, and in advance of the person coming if it isn't the home they stay in, and we might want to make sure just to ensure because sometimes there can be accidents, and that that there's a change of clothes and all of that already prepared. Just like I always say, think about how much prep we put into the person who's going to have a baby that have that bag at the door that you grab. So you can just go out door at the core of it. One of the brilliant things about this time of year, even with sad things that we're reflecting on, like loss, as you've touched on, is to reminisce because Christmas brings us together to share stories, the photo albums and come out. And we know that because people are more reliant on their long term memory, there are fantastic conversations of photo albums can be the part of that we don't necessarily need to always say, look, actually that person has passed away we can go Oh didn't dad work on this and and get the photographs out. And suddenly the conversations still about remembering them. And remembering all of the great times. And of course your music choices are all part of that as well.Claire McCarthy:
And Colm I think for for so many it's going to be different Christmas because we have been I think this for months that we have been in isolation and removed from each other. I from the foundation perspective, want to again, thank our donor community and for those who are reconnecting those who are living with loss for the first Christmas, we acknowledge everybody it's going to be a very different Christmas, but we hope it's going to be very safe and blessed one and that we will be able to reconnect on a level like maybe never before.Colm Cunningham:
Well, that's a perfect way to end our podcast and the Christmas appeal. Claire, thank you. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you very much for listening and I hope that if you can support the foundation that you're able to do so have a very Merry Christmas. Thank you. Thank you again, Claire for joining us and I echo that lovely message about the season ahead also if you are interested in getting involved www.hammond.com.au/donate/getonboard and Of course we welcome your thoughts and ideas as we are planning our 2022 shedule of podcasts. So as always, your feedback is welcome by emailing us at email@example.com. Bye for now