All NHS staff – from porters to surgeons – are required to undergo training in dementia care

A recent article published by the Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network addressed the need for a streamlined approach to better educate and train healthcare professionals working with patients living with dementia.

What’s the issue anyway?

Last year, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) warned that people with dementia will experience poor care at some point while living in a care home or being treated in hospital. Its report found 29% of care homes and 56% of hospitals were not comprehensive in identifying all of a person’s care needs. These figures are a reflection of an underlying workforce issue enforcing the need for consistent and efficient person-centred dementia education and training.

Various initiatives have been put in place to support the growing need to improve dementia care and support. (See Living well with dementia - a National Dementia Strategy (2009) and National Dementia Strategy Project). However, it is becoming increasingly clear that people who live with dementia are still not receiving the care they require. One theory suggests that hospital and social care staff lack the confidence in communicating with and caring for with people with dementia, particularly if it is a secondary illness.

In February 2015 the prime minster, David Cameron, announced that all NHS staff – ranging from porters to surgeons – will be required to undergo training in dementia. Yet, as the Guardian article states, there is still a general feeling that dementia education and training for health and social staff remains “patchy” and does not adequately address community care. Skills for Health is working with key partners to address this issue.

Underpinning knowledge is crucial

The Dementia Core Skills & Knowledge Framework was commissioned and funded by the Department of Health and developed by Skills for Health and Health Education England. The framework sets out the core skills and knowledge which would be transferable and applicable across different types of service provision, tackling the issue of patchy training. It comprises of 14 tiers, ranging from basic dementia awareness, through to core skills and knowledge required by specialists and those in leadership roles. Colin Wright, skills framework manager, Skills for Health, comments: “The framework provides a valuable specification of the minimum content for delivery, planning and commissioning of dementia education and training. The aim is to enable greater consistency and efficiencies in the delivery of dementia education and training.”

Training – but what’s on offer?

A further point in the article acknowledges that training packages need to be carefully planned, taking into account social care staff, and, most importantly, be cost-effective.

E-learning can be an extremely valuable tool in supporting such training, if executed correctly. Our e-learning provides a cost-effective and flexible alternative to traditional methods and can help to ensure that organisations maintain a safe, competent and legally compliant workforce.

Most recently, we launched Stand By Me, a free dementia-specific e-learning package designed to help health and social care staff improve their communication and teach person-centred care of people living with dementia and their families. The course contains a number of video dramatisations which demonstrate good and poor practice in a variety of health and social care settings and encourages learners to reflect on their own practice. Stand By Me can be used by one learner at a computer and/or in a variety of blended learning situations.

Any health and social care organisation can register to use Stand By Me. Organisations can find more information on the Skills for Health website, or to register click here.

Anne Clarke, regional director for Southern England, Skills for Health, comments: “This course highlights the importance of communication when caring for people living with dementia and their families. It provides a fantastic, interactive, learning experience and captures the essential knowledge and skills needed to provide the high quality care that people with dementia deserves.”

There are many issues that are not easily solved; the road ahead will be tough before dementia training and education are streamlined and incorporate all of the needs of an integrated health and social care system. Yet 2015 seems to be the year that healthcare is getting a step closer to achieving this.

If you would like to find out more about how Skills for Health can help support you and your organisation in your dementia strategy, please visit our website or contact your regional director to arrange a meeting. You can access the regional directors’ details here.

Did you know Dementia Skills is the largest group on My Health Skills with over 140 members?  Join the group! Click here!

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