The local learning and development approach is co-produced with people with dementia, families, and staff.
It's co-ordinated with partners through regional learning and development plans and partnership structures
Learning and development plans are realistic and achievable. They:
- are based on listening to what staff and local people want
- offer a diverse range of learning and development opportunities and multiple access channels for staff and others to participate.
Learning and development is about the values, attitudes, communication and behaviour of teams. This needs an experiential approach to learning and development, as well as openness and honesty about our own biases.
There’s a focus on person-centred care. It’s the one thing we can do that will have the biggest impact on the well-being of people with dementia because it has the power to change the experience and culture of care. But it needs a ‘whole system’ approach where:
- influencers shape the vision and promote partnerships across the ‘whole system’ of care and support
- influencers are trained, supported and supportive to others
- influencers have the tools and resources they need to support learners
- local care and support providers know that people with dementia and their families use many services, often at the same time, so they work together
- enough learning and development activities take place in the right places and with the right people to reach a tipping point that changes the culture and experiences of people with dementia and their families
- staff are allowed the time and space they need to develop positive attitudes towards dementia, and to learn, grow and reflect
- evidence-based models are used to involve people with dementia and their families
- every person living with dementia is seen as unique, with their own identity, history and cultural social norms, rather than through the prism of dementia
- family and carers’ experiences are included in a holistic way.
Nursing student placements in care homes are valuable. Placements are an effective way for students to understand what it’s like to live with dementia and care for people with dementia in a person-centred way.
Person-centred care learning and development content should be based on understanding the person’s unique dementia pathway. It should focus on:
- understanding the early signs of dementia
- providing ‘active listening’ support in a sensitive and thoughtful manner
- promoting dignity, respect and independence
- asking about and understanding people’s individual experiences, including their concerns and anxieties
- providing advice and support to access preventative, community and specialist services
- having enough time to listen and care.
The main features of effective learning and development programmes
Research shows the impact of training and education on staff skills and confidence when supporting people with dementia (Surr et al, 2017).
An English study commissioned on behalf of Health Education England in 2018 looked at What Works? in dementia education and training. It:
- is the most comprehensive evaluation of dementia learning and development in the UK so far
- resulted in a number of academic works, including Surr & Gates, 2017; Surr et al, 2017; Surr et al 2020a; Sass et al, 2019; Smith et al 2019; Surr et al 2019; Surr 2020b
- looked at the characteristics of the most effective dementia and training session.
This is what it found:
- is tailored to be relevant and realistic to the role, experience and practice of the learners
- includes specific tools, methods and approaches to underpin the provision of care
- presents the experience of living with dementia through video, simulation or the direct involvement of people with dementia in the training.
- is ideally more than half a day for each subject area. Longer and more in-depth programmes (one to two days) are more likely to produce positive results
- if a programme is made up of a number of sessions, each session should be at least two hours long.
- uses small or large group face-to-face learning (either alone or alongside another learning approach) and avoids didactic teaching methods.
- includes interactive learning activities and opportunities for learner discussion and interaction, using case examples or video-based scenarios, or drawing on examples from the learners’ own practice
- uses a variety of learning approaches, so as to not rely too much on any one approach, such as booklets or e-learning
- is by a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced facilitator who is also an experienced clinician or practitioner and can deliver the training flexibly.
You should make sure:
- there’s a supportive organisational context and learning culture, accompanied by strong, dedicated dementia training and practice leadership
- you use a dedicated training space
- you have a physical environment that supports good dementia care.