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"Look how far we have come . . . " The birth and growth of the Dementia and End of Life Care Community of Practice.

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Topics: 
approaches to dementia care, communication, research

Today I helped facilitate the first ECHO meeting for the Dementia and End of Life Community of Practice (DCoP)! I am sure this initiates a lot of questions for the reader of this blog so here goes!

The first Dementia and End of Life Community of Practice was ‘born’ over three years ago now.  A partnership between Dementia UK (DUK) and Hospice UK (HUK), we supported a face to face meeting of clinicians (and commissioners) of end of life care and dementia care. Providing good quality end of life care for families affected by dementia can be a challenge for clinicians in all care settings. It can often demand high knowledge and skills spanning both specialities. However, most clinicians come from either speciality and rarely do we find both in the same person! So, we decided to bring both specialities together in a community of practice whereby we could learn from each other. The first group attracted approximately 35 people - today we have over 240 members.  Whilst a great growth this presents challenges. Firstly, in respect of venue capacity; if all members were to attend a meeting, where would have the space to accommodate all? Members come from across the UK so how can we ensure that such meetings are not London centric? And lastly, cost; how can we maintain frequency of meetings to match the growing demand is an economical way as possible? Welcome to ECHO!

What is ECHO?

ECHO is an amazing model that harnesses technology, communication and the sharing of knowledge.  It is short for Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes.  Harnessing technology it creates an interactive community to talk and share best practice (in this case palliative and end of life care in dementia), enables (anonymised) case presentation and learning.  It is achieved through a ‘hub and spoke’ network – Hospice UK being the hub in partnership with Dementia UK.

The first ECHO meeting date was set – serendipitously this was set for the 4th July – Independence Day! Mid-morning members started to log into the ECHO community of practice via the ZOOM software platform.  The ‘ding-dong’ noise of people entering the meeting sounded again and again; all waiting for the start. Sarah Russell of Hospice UK informed the members of what ECHO was and how we plan to use this to supplement the annual face-to-face DCoP through regular ‘virtual’ meetings. The ECHO facilitation team answered questions that arose on the practicalities of using the system and how it can support them.

What next?

DCoP members will receive an on-line survey that will ask three essential questions; how often would you like to meet using ECHO? How long would be ideal for each session? What issues and topics would you like to be presented? Results of the survey will then be taken to a curriculum planning meeting to include, Dr Sarah Russell of HUK, Liz Bryan of St Christopher’s Hospice and myself in September.  Results will lead to the development of a series of ECHO meeting over the remainder of 2018 and the coming 2019.  Each year we will continue to hold the annual face-to face meeting in a conference format lasting a full day – the next one planned for 5th December 2018 in London.

Details of all our community of practice activity can be found following this link:

https://www.hospiceuk.org/what-we-offer/clinical-and-care-support/hospice-enabled-dementia-care/dementia-end-of-life-care-community-of-practice

Why not join us?  Together we are stronger in supporting good quality care and support for families affected by dementia

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