Signature is the market-leader in dementia care. Using our Innovative “My Life” dementia care pathway, we offer our residents a person-centred, sympathetic and responsive approach to living with dementia.
“My Life” Dementia Care Pathway
In delivering the My Life dementia pathway we focus on five key areas:
1. Understanding My Life
2. Diagnosing and Assessing My Life
3. Supporting My Life
4. Living My Life
5. End of My Life
These are underpinned by:
• Our suite of training programmes focus on understanding dementia, recognising signs and symptoms, supporting early diagnosis as well as optimising each individual‘s strengths and promoting independence
• Our training supports family and friends in informal social gatherings, events and individualised meetings
• Our teams are dedicated to the dementia communities, to enhance familiarity, build trusting relationships and gain knowledge of each resident
• Developing exceptionally high quality and adapted environments that are conducive to living with dementia
• Providing socially fulfilling lifestyles, individually tailored to meet the needs of our residents to create meaning and purpose to daily living
• All our residents will have a sense of wellbeing, everyday meaningful interaction and engagement, building relationships and trust
• The whole dining experience is a positive one; from the preparation of home-cooked meals, how they are presented to support the unique needs of our residents and the environment to improve health, socialisation, and wellbeing
• All our chefs are upskilled on the understanding of how dementia affects nutrition and hydration, learning to create appetising meals which takes into account all the senses
• Our teams are empowered to provide person centred end of life care, demonstrating compassion and kindness with the utmost respect and dignity for family and loved ones
Introducing Michele Saunders
Head of Dementia
I have been working in the care industry for over 10 years and I entered into the world of dementia with similar misunderstandings as many in society. Recognising the concerns and confusion about what dementia is and the impact it has for people living with the condition and their families. Over the years, my learning has been immense, reading and researching the latest scientific developments within dementia care, understanding that people can live life with dementia and recognising that we can support everyone in a person centred way. My continuing passion for people’s wellbeing drives me with a compulsion to educate and support everyone who cares for people living with dementia as well as broaden the knowledge and understanding for people that may know very little.
The social psychologist Tom Kitwood (1937–1998) changed the whole perception of dementia care, challenging the notion that dementia leads to a loss of who the person is. His explanations regarding person centred care involves building positive and enriching relationships to improve wellbeing and enabling the person living with dementia to communicate their wants, needs and desires and retain a sense of identity. Meeting a person’s needs for love, attachment, comfort, occupation and inclusion will give them a sense of self-worth and can reduce agitated and / or apathetic behaviour. So simply put – people living with dementia all have needs and wants just like anyone else, the important part is having a supportive network who recognise this and can show kindness, love, and affection.
Understanding My Life
Professionally trained and knowledgeable teams
At Signature we are passionate about creating innovative, warm and welcoming dementia communities. This relies not only on our home environments being fit for purpose, but also requires that all of our people have the appropriate skills and confidence to help and support our residents to maintain independence and engage in meaningful activities throughout their daily lives. We ensure that every team member working for Signature has undertaken a comprehensive dementia training programme, irrespective of their job role, we feel it’s important that everyone understands the needs of our residents.
To support the My Life strategy we approach our training with a whole home approach, laying the foundations for each of our employees to fully understand the basics of what it’s like to live with a dementia diagnosis and how each team member, can have a positive impact. Everyone when joining Signature undertakes a practical immersion workshop, to gain a greater understanding of the daily frustrations that many people experience living with dementia. Our dementia training programme has three tiers, dependent on job role. Our training will continue to expand due to new research and developments within dementia care, so that we are always providing everyone with updated information.
Our recruitment process is designed to ensure we select only those people who share our vision in providing:
• Exceptional levels of care and compassion
• Passion and energy!
We believe in a blended learning approach and are constantly looking for new impactful training opportunities that will leave our teams inspired.
We have sought the help of people living with dementia who help our teams to build confidence and knowledge in their role. We continue to seek advice and guidance relating to the latest research from professional bodies including The Alzheimer’s Society (Dementia Friends) and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Diagnosis and Assessing My Life
High quality and luxurious living environments
At Signature, we are dedicated to providing an enriching, safe, stimulating and homely feel for each of our residents. We recognise that the environment plays a huge part in the ability to live independent lives. Our homes are designed with smaller communal areas,
to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and all of our apartments have a personal, individual touch, ensuring that our residents can both recognise and relax in their own familiar space.
We acknowledge that some of our residents may have a visual impairment and hearing loss. With this in mind, all of our homes are designed with our residents’ safety as the paramount concern. To support orientation we continue to provide practical and well thought-out environments. We use unique, specially designed signage to enable our residents to familiarise themselves independently around our homes as well as in their own apartments. Our handrails are small enough to allow them to be
gripped securely and are painted in a contrasting colour, making them easily identifiable to our residents who enjoy
The use of contrasting colours between the floors, walls and light switches aids with the ability to differentiate between them. Natural light is used wherever possible and is complimented by the use of both adaptable lighting distinguishing between day and night.
We utilise both bright and contrasting coloured furniture to enable our residents to navigate around their environment with ease. Using a mixture of both sofas and armchairs, with waist height furniture strategically placed to promote safer mobility.
Supporting My Life
Stimulating social engagement and wellbeing
Here at Signature we actively encourage all of our teams to fully engage, interact and communicate with our residents. We endeavour to be as discreet or as prominent in a resident’s life as they wish and abide by the concept that we are working in “someone’s home”.
We place great emphasis on making every interaction between our teams and residents both personal and pleasurable. Whether it’s undertaking personal care, escorting a day trip, or having a cup of tea and a chat, we strive to deliver excellent levels of person centred care.
We take into account everyone’s individual choice, likes and dislikes when planning social activities for our homes. We can tailor each activity to the needs of the residents who are taking part, to maximise the enjoyment for all. We also encourage spontaneity within our homes, as some residents will benefit from variety, rather than structure. Everything can be personalised to the individual, on a day-by-day or hour-by-hour basis where necessary.
We encourage all of our residents to take part in appropriate activities as it helps to provide them with a sense of meaningfulness, accomplishment and can help facilitate relaxation. These activities provide a great form of communication, self-expression and imagination. Music is a particularly enjoyable resource and many of our residents will enjoy reminiscing over songs or tunes from their past having a positive effect on an individual’s wellbeing.
All of our homes have the use of a minibus, regularly used to provide a variety of trips tailored to our residents’ requirements. We offer many outdoor activities in our sensory gardens and the weather is never a barrier to providing enjoyment, wellbeing and fresh air.
Living My Life
Personalised Dining Experience
At Signature we recognise that people living with dementia may face difficulties with eating, some of these are practical challenges, such as the ability to chew food or even remembering how to eat. Basic senses of taste and smell can also be affected leading to loss of appetite and a lack of enthusiasm for food in general. The dining experience can therefore have a huge impact on our residents, determining whether mealtimes are enjoyable or become a frustration.
Our Dementia Care Managers or Hospitality Managers, will personally oversee each dining experience to ensure its smooth running whilst monitoring the nutritional intake of our residents.
Attention is paid to the general noise level within the dining area. Distractions are kept to a minimum to facilitate calm surroundings where concentration can be afforded to encourage residents to enjoy their food choices. Residents are offered the opportunity to choose the music played during mealtimes.
Our dining areas are well lit and we maximise natural light where possible. Tables are fully set with appropriate cutlery, crockery and condiments, contrasting tablecloths and napkins to suit the occasion and where possible with a “centre piece”. It’s important that residents have a choice regarding where they wish to be seated in the dining room and what food they chose to eat. Our teams sit alongside our residents to support any assistance if needed, encourage conversation and become part of the mealtime experience.
Our homes are designed to offer both a social or room service dining experience for our residents to choose from every day, allowing us to meet their needs on a meal by meal basis. Residents are encouraged to dine in all areas of the community and a private dining room is always available if they wish to dine with their families.
End of My Life
Compassionate End of Life Care
Here at Signature, we understand and recognise the importance of a “peaceful death” that is free from avoidable distress and suffering. Our residents living with dementia need specialist support as they approach their end of life as do their family members, friends, and the carers who support them.
We work to destigmatise dying and encourage everyone to play their part in this vital area of care. Our aim has been to ensure that our teams have the confidence to care for those in the end stages of their life, with discretion and with the utmost dignity and respect. Our care team are empowered to provide both person centred and compassionate palliative care and are a consistent support for family and loved ones.
We understand that death is a subject that can be difficult to talk about and plan for, we therefore support having meaningful
conversations over time, to help residents think carefully about what matters most to them. This understanding is essential so that our residents are able to make important personal choices, and prepare as well as they can for the end of their life. This is particularly important when planning the ongoing care for a person with dementia, ensuring they have made informed decisions for themselves. We offer support to families, particularly focusing on how we can meet the care need decisions of their loved one prior to losing capacity.
We strive to ensure that the care we deliver is both current with evidence-based practice, as well as being of the highest quality. We offer the opportunity to create a nurturing and supportive environment for people with dementia to feel safe and comforted. By recognising that every resident is unique, having individual preferences, we are able to meet physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. Understanding the needs of our residents and their loved one’s is crucial to ensuring that we deliver expert end of life care.
Testimonials From Our Residents’ Families
“My mum went into Signature after she had dementia for a few years. From the moment we arrived, the staff were extremely welcoming, and she settled in very quickly. She has a lovely big room with her own bathroom. I was able to bring her furniture and decorate it to make it feel like her own, special space with familiar things around her. The staff have been absolutely wonderful with Mum. They are an extremely kind and caring team. All our questions and worries have been attended to immediately. The activities provided are fantastic and much enjoyed by all.” – Daughter of Resident, Review on CareHome.co.uk
“The team of carers showed so much understanding and kindness to my mother who suffered from Dementia. I saw first hand how each resident is treated as an individual and with respect. Every effort was made by the carers and entertainment staff to ensure that my mother was engaged with music and entertainment. The selfless devotion shown to my mother during these exceptional times was outstanding.” – Daughter of Resident, Review on CareHome.co.uk
“My auntie had lived on her own for the last 20 years. She became poorly in January and was diagnosed with dementia shortly after. It was impossible for her to return home. I can’t stress enough how supportive the manager and her team were in organising and assisting with the difficult process involved when no LPAs are in place. Dealing with doctors, solicitors banks and building societies on a daily basis, Signature took care of auntie, making sure she was safe, warm and comfortable in what can only be described as 5-star luxury. From the shower facilities to the laundry lady, everything is first class at Signature.” – Niece of Resident, Review on CareHome.co.uk