Older people and long-term conditions. Implementing the NICE guidelines

By Pauline Shaw, Director of Care & Service Development, The Royal Star & Garter Homes.

Featured article - 22 July 2016


Earlier this year I responded to a request to join a roundtable event to help identify how the NICE guidelines to support older people with social care needs and multiple long term conditions could be best put into practice.

In my role as Director of Care & Service Development I regularly write and review guidelines, policies and procedures for use within the Charity, a care home provider. I know what I write is focussed on the wellbeing of the people who live with us but my target audience are the social care practitioners who work closest to those people.

I have in the past wondered if these piles of documents ever see the light of day or, instead, languish unread in some dark and dusty corner. I learnt very quickly that without the human interaction of face-to-face discussions, ‘electronically dumping’ information onto busy practitioners was futile. It is an eerily lonely feeling when emails are met with what appears to be a monastic vow of silence!

If we consider the effort involved to research, explore and develop best practice guidelines, then the same dedication should be made in promoting and implementing the guidelines produced. In care homes for example, people should expect to be actively involved and participate in decisions affecting them and to receive support in doing so if required. With this collaborative remit and responsibility in mind, social care practitioners need support in achieving this – although I am not proposing guidelines on how to use guidelines!

Experience tells me the Home Manager is central to the success of any plan to cascade guidelines. Therefore, the first step is to discuss the guidelines with the Home Manager, preferably face to face, and aim to gain their buy-in and enthusiastic support, focussing on the importance of the guidelines and the benefits they provide to staff and residents.

With this achieved, the Manager can decide the best way of cascading information and motivating the team to positively engage. We have found from experience that we have the most success when we promote and reinforce guidelines in a range of different ways: highlighting a ‘guideline of the month’; discussing at team meetings; exploring guidelines in 1:1 supervisions; and now in revalidation reflective discussions, written reflective accounts and evidence of CPD.

We also integrate references to the NICE guideline in internal policies and procedures which not only demonstrate the use of best practice but also reassure all stakeholders that the people who live with us receive the best possible care.

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