Alistair Gaskell CLAHRC Fellow 2011

Alistair Gaskell

Alistair is a Clinical Psychologist who was educated at Oxford University and completed his clinical training at the University of East London in 1993.  He has worked in the field of Older People’s Mental Health since 2001. He is also trained in Cognitive Analytic Therapy. His particular interests are person-centred dementia care and psychological therapies for older people. In 2005 he set up an initiative to provide dementia care training to care homes in the Cambridge area, which has developed into the CAMTED team which provides training and practice development work to care homes, acute hospitals and GP practices across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Alistair did his CLAHRC research project in collaboration with Jim Leadbetter, a registered mental health nurse and CAMTED team leader.

Project title: Innovations in Person –Centred Care for People with Dementia Living in Care Homes

The aim of the project was to provide a training and practice development intervention in dementia care to residential and nursing homes in the Huntingdonshire district of Cambridgeshire with the aim of:

  1. Enabling the Homes to improve the quality of dementia care that they offer to their residents
  2. Reducing excess health costs for their residents.

This will be done by providing training and support in practice development focussed on key areas of practice relevant to improving the experience of residents and / or reducing the likelihood of unnecessary hospital admission.

The Intervention

The intervention was based on the principles of Person-Centred Care as elaborated by Kitwood (1997) Brooker (2007) and others. It was also designed in the light of work within the areas of organisational change and adult learning which emphasise the limitations of classroom based training / learning for achieving cultural / organisational changes.

It is useful to consider care homes as “communities of practice” (Lave and Chaiklin 1993, Wenger 1999) in which good and bad dementia care practice are largely learned through peer-to peer teaching / modelling and advice. The study aims to help homes to develop positive processes of informal learning around dementia care, and so become communities of good practice.

The intervention comprised:

  • A discussion with the care home manager about the needs of the home Implementation of a package of training to the home (usually 15 hours training over five sessions)
  • Selection of one or two “practice development interventions” on specific areas of dementia care.
  • Additional support from a mental health pharmacist on reduction of the use of antipsychotic medication for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Download the briefing paper on Alistair and Jim’s project.