All acute trusts in England have now signed up to John’s Campaign
All acute trusts in England have voluntarily pledged to scrap visiting restrictions for the carers of people with dementia.
At an event at NHS England today Nicci Gerrard and Julia Jones, co-founders of John’s Campaign, will present England’s Chief Nursing Officer Jane Cummings with a book of pledges from the English NHS Trusts, together with images of their good practice and supportive statements from senior managers. The “book” will then be open to all (https://johnscampaign.org.uk/#/voices/4).
John’s Campaign was founded in November 2014 after the death of Dr John Gerrard. Dr Gerrard had been living well with dementia at home with his wife of 60 years and surrounded by his family. An apparently trivial hospital admission (for treatment of leg ulcers), when his family were excluded by a combination of restricted visiting hours and knee-jerk infection control, precipitated a catastrophic decline in Dr Gerrard’s ability to function and when he finally returned home he required 24/7care for the rest of his life. An article by his daughter Nicci, “My father entered hospital articulate and able, he emerged a broken man,” (Observer 30.11.2014) elicited a huge response from other carers of people with dementia with similar experiences.
John’s Campaign has been remarkable for the completely voluntary response it has elicited from ward staff across the country. In every one of the four UK countries the success of the campaign has been due to the actions of individual nurseswho know that the input from the closest family members or friends brings something unique that even the best-staffed, best-designed, best-funded hospital cannot replicate.
UK hospitals that adopted a Carers Welcome policy began to notice unexpected practical benefits. Carol Andrews, a senior charge nurse in Monklands District General Hospital, Lanarkshire, documented a dramatic reduction in falls and violent incidents for a year after she adopted John’s Campaign. She presented her findings at a Scottish John’s Campaign conference and announced “The Bell is in the Bin!”
The book that will be presented to Jane Cummings will reveal that the arrangements to welcome and support carers vary between locations. The experience of major Trusts such as Imperial Healthcare in London demonstrates how thoroughly a welcome to carers can be embedded into the total hospital ethos. “It’s just the way we do things here now,” says lead dementia nurse Joanna James.
Toby Lewis, CEO of Sandwell and West Birmingham, read about John’s Campaign when he was sitting by his child’s hospital bedside, and began at once to implement thisapproach throughout his Trust. He writes:
“Recognising that carers provide most of the care in all of our communities, and in our hospitals, is an overdue acknowledgement by the NHS of what is true. John’s Campaign is a compassionate and simple recognition that we work together to support individual patients and their families too.”
Hospitals’ response to the John’s Campaign message is an outstanding example of grassroots activism that has reached a significant milestone. Now it needs to be known about and embedded throughout the NHS and social care. Carers should know that the end-of-visiting-time bell no longer rings for them.
John’s Campaign is UK-wide. From being a kitchen table decision by two friends and their families, it has gained support from the chief nursing officers of all four UK countries, also from the Royal Colleges and many major charities.
The book of pledges can be downloaded fromhttps://johnscampaign.org.uk/#/voices/4 from June 11th 2018.