A pilot initiative which has markedly improved the lives of people in some Lanarkshire care homes has been praised by a national health chief.

Last year The Care Home Continence Improvement project set out to improve approaches to continence care.

Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director of Healthcare Quality and Strategy for The Scottish Government, recently met core members of the team during a visit to South Lanarkshire Council’s David Walker Gardens in Rutherglen, one of the care homes where the initiative had been tested.

“I was hugely impressed by the work piloted by the team. This is ground-breaking and innovative partnership working at its best – centred around human dignity,” said Professor Leitch.

Research has identified incontinence as a risk factor that increases skin damage, infection and falls in older people.

During the visit, Professor Leitch learned how the initiative allowed care home staff to improve the quality of care through better recording of processes and introducing small changes including medication reviews and reducing caffeine intake.

The outcomes of the project – also piloted at Summerlee House in Coatbridge – has led to improvements including a reduction in falls by 65%, urinary infections being halved and skin damage reduced by one third.  The project has also significantly reduced the amount of continence pads used at the homes.

Following the visit, Professor Leitch added: “I’ve had a wonderful experience at David Walker Gardens. I’ve seen the care home, I’ve met the residents, I’ve met the staff. It’s a home- from-home for many people in the local area.

“The exemplary project that’s been piloted here has directly tackled an issue that can be often seen as a taboo. The improvement changes have saved money, markedly reduced the impact of incontinence, including reducing infections and falls.

“Crucially this has also improved people’s lives.”

 The pilot was developed by teams in and North and South Lanarkshire’s Health and Social Care Partnerships, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS National Services Scotland and work is underway to explore rolling the project out across Lanarkshire.

Jean Donaldson, Associate Director of Nursing, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, explained: “This project was about small changes making a big difference.

“As we continue to explore the wider implementation in Lanarkshire, we were delighted to share the details of the approach.”

Alice Macleod, Nurse Advisor with NHS National Services Scotland, added: “The expertise among all involved in this project has supported care home staff to implement this innovative, quality improvement initiative. We look forward to building on this work and sharing our experience, with the goal of supporting others to make positive changes.”

You can see Professor Jason Leitch sum up his thoughts on the care home visit here: https://vimeo.com/255928569

A film documenting the pilot project is available to view here: https://vimeo.com/241902965

Pic caption: Power of partnership: (left to right) Debra Allison, Care Home Manager David Walker Gardens, Jean Donaldson, Associate Director of Nursing, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, Alice Macleod, Nurse Advisor with NHS National Services Scotland and Nanette Paterson of Scottish Care with Jason Leitch, centre.

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