A Walsall service co-run by St Giles Hospice to improve support for people with dementia in care homes and help them prepare for the end of their lives has won a prestigious award for its groundbreaking work.

The Care Improvement and End-of-Life Service received the best innovation title at the Accord Great People Awards, an annual event hosted by Accord, which took place at Old Tree Nursery, in Pendeford Hall Lane on January 29 2018.

The service is run by community-based dementia support workers Emily Pardoe-Billings from St Giles Hospice Walsall and Pat Roberts from Pathways 4 Life, a partnership between Accord and Age UK Walsall funded by Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group.

Emily said: “We’re absolutely delighted to receive the award – our work can be extremely challenging at times but it’s great to know people recognise it’s something valuable and that it makes a difference to the quality of people’s lives.

“Everything we do is a partnership – between St Giles Walsall and Pathways 4 Life and between the service and everyone working in Walsall’s care homes. Our success is down to the wonderful co-operation of everybody involved.”

Pat and Emily currently work with around 30 care homes in Walsall. They use their knowledge and experience to improve dementia and end-of-life care to empower care home staff, people with dementia and their families through development sessions, support and guidance.

This involves helping to create safe and relaxing spaces and providing meaningful person-centred activities, some suitable for people even at the very end stages of their lives. It also includes helping staff to understand the needs of people with dementia more fully and to help them to feel more confident that they can support them effectively.

The service was set up as a pilot in 2015 but has been so successful in helping patients, families and staff and reducing the number of unnecessary hospital admissions that it was made permanent in 2017, and last year it was one of four finalists in the National Dementia Care Awards.

Helen Reeves, Operational Lead for St Giles Walsall said: “Collaboration really is the key to the success of this service as Accord, Age UK and St Giles have been able to bring all of their experience and expertise together to understand the needs of patients with dementia and work out how patients can be helped most effectively.”

Jan Paterson, Head of Older People’s Services at Accord, said: “The End of Life & Care Improvement service and the work that Pat and Emily does is critical for all individuals living with dementia who live within a care home setting. Through them educating and providing support for staff, it has ensured that all individuals receive excellent person-centered care in a sensitive and meaningful way. I am so proud of the team!”