A New Approach to Dementia Training
Residential care has changed a lot over recent years. More and more people are being cared for at home and we are seeing an increasing number of people with varying degrees of dementia related illness moving into our homes. The needs of people don’t really change; activities, good health, emotional wellbeing, good food, feelings of safety, security and a sense of purpose are all things we should expect as a minimum and we do our best to provide these to the people who we support. Getting it right for people with a dementia related illness can be very rewarding, but sometimes challenging, sometimes testing, sometimes puzzling and reliant on a skill set that understands the framework within which good dementia care should be delivered. It is for this reason we have recently introduced the largest ever staff training programme for people working with those with a dementia related illness in the organisation’s history and more than 1,000 employees across the whole organisation have started to receive fresh and enhanced training.
The programme is initially being delivered by our friend and colleague, dementia expert Lorraine Haining to provide the highest standards of care across all of Hica’s homes, as well as up-skill our staff in caring for those with sensory and cognitive impairments. Lorraine has over 15 years of experience in dementia, stress and distress training within the NHS and private sector.
This is a significant investment by the organisation in staff skills and development. As specialists in dementia care we recognise our people need to be at the forefront of the best provision in the sector. We want a higher level of expertise within Hica to ensure we have the skills to train future staff.
The training strategy has already been incredibly successful, and we have noticed a much more structured and successful approach to quickly breaking down communication barriers and also treating the symptoms of dementia with the four step plan.
The four step model of care helps to break down communication barriers between carers and residents, especially those who suffer from memory loss, dementia or other issues which may affect mental and physical health. The training helps staff to identify the wants and needs of residents through prompts including cards and special ways of communicating to help ease distress, which is a key symptom of dementia.
Team members are given the opportunity to learn first-hand the experiences of someone with dementia, with the use of specialist equipment to simulate sensory and cognitive impairments. They are then provided with a ‘toolkit’ to help identify any needs a resident is trying to express, which can be things as simple as what drink or item of clothing they would prefer, up to more serious issues such as any pain or discomfort they are feeling.
Almost 180 senior Hica staff, including managers and activity coordinators will be trained by autumn this year, with two ‘dementia champions’ chosen from each home to train all other staff before the end of the year.
So far, our staff have done a fantastic job implementing the training whilst also educating and training their colleagues. Together, we are paving the way for innovative, effective dementia care which puts our residents at the forefront of everything we do.