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PROPSPER stands for Promoting Safer Provision of care for Elderly Residents. Funded by the Health Foundation, the project involves Essex County Council & UCL Partners working in partnership with Essex Residential Care & Nursing homes. With a focus on prevention and reducing the prevalence of falls, pressure ulcers and urinary tract infections across care homes, the overarching aim of the project is to reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions.
Paula Blundell and Leigh Howe, who are both activity coordinators at Cunningham House were nominated by their Manager, Paul Buckle, in both the ‘Prosper Champion of Champions’ category and the ‘Prosper Wackiest Idea’ category. Paul said “Both Paula and Leigh have worked tirelessly with residents to engage them in activities to raise awareness about the importance of hydration. They ran education days for residents, their families and friends, and people from the wider community including local care homes, sheltered accommodation and Home Care.”
“Although there’s a serious message behind the work we’re doing, we knew that the events we ran would have to be fun otherwise people wouldn’t come!” said Paula.
One in five older people living in care homes is dehydrated, according to a joint study carried out by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Canberra University in Australia in 2015. With this in mind, Paula and Leigh came up with some ideas to help ensure this didn't happen at Cunningham.
They held an Alice In Wonderland ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’, and a 'Dominoes Day' to raise awareness of the importance of good hydration, focusing on how it can help prevent falls in older people. They also introduced ‘hydration stations’ throughout the care home and worked with the Chef to actively encourage fluid intake by offering jellies, fruit, melon and ice lollies throughout the day.
All staff at Cunningham House monitored everyone’s fluid intake carefully and developed a system of coloured coasters to indicate where additional drinks should be offered.
Cunningham House has seen a staggering reduction in falls of just over 50% since the project began which has led to an increase in wellbeing and a significant drop in hospital admissions.
April Dobson, Head of Dementia Innovation at Abbeyfield said "this is impressive work by Abbeyfield staff which proves that small and simple changes can make a massive difference. Age-related changes include a reduced sensation of thirst, and this may be more pronounced in those with dementia. In addition, there is evidence linking poor cognitive function and dehydration."
A massive CONGRATULATIONS to the team!