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Dementia Friendly Workforce

19th May 2017

As a provider of health and care services in the community, we ensure our staff are regularly trained so they are equipped and able to cope with patients or service users, whatever condition they may be living with.

There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to 1 million by 2051, equivalent to one person being newly diagnosed every three minutes (source: Alzheimers’ Society).

Our telecare alarm monitoring centre and mobile care team come into regular contact with people who are affected by this condition, whether that is the person themselves, or their families, carers or friends. So it is vitally important that they have a good understanding and awareness of the condition.

Mandy, Response Service Trainer

Mandy is our dedicated health and social care trainer. For new starters in these departments, she runs tailored training sessions on dementia. In these sessions, she leads an interactive forum which looks at the common types of dementia, the causes of the condition and signs and symptoms. She then uses the rest of the session to perform activities so they can discuss how certain day to day activities can lead to frustration and agitation – for example, telling someone how to clean their teeth or make a cup of tea.

Coping with challenging behaviour is one of the most difficult aspects of the condition. This is why Mandy spends a lot of time with the teams, ensuring they have a better understanding of why it can often be the little things that lead to someone becoming agitated as their mood quite suddenly changes. Often, it can also be a fear or anxiety from a memory that has long since been locked in the back of their mind, that suddenly comes to the fore as if it’s actually happening right now.

In one example, Mandy explains how one service user would scream and shout when it was bath time. Although the patient had lived quite happily having baths for years, she suddenly remembered how she had almost drowned as a child. Her previous fear of water had returned. Although there didn’t appear to be a rational reason behind the sudden change in behaviour, there was if you understood the background and reason for the behaviour change.

Theresa, Dementia Friends Coordinator

All new members of staff are invited to “Welcome to Medvivo Day” events which includes a Dementia Friends workshop. Although anyone who is interested in refreshing their knowledge can attend.

Although Theresa works in our Access to Care team, she also volunteers as our Dementia Friends Coordinator. Following a personal experience of supporting someone living with dementia, she was really keen to help all members of staff develop a better awareness and understanding of the condition.

During the session, Theresa provides an overview to Dementia Friends and how it was set up by the Alzheimers’ Society as a social movement to raise awareness by focusing on these five messages about the condition:

  • It is not a natural part of aging
  • It’s caused by diseases of the brain
  • It’s not just about losing your memory – it can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks
  • It’s possible to live well with dementia
  • There’s more to the person that the dementia

Everyone is then encouraged to make a pledge, whether that is to help someone you know who has the condition, volunteer at an organisation, wear the Dementia Friend badge or tell five friends about what they have learnt.

Theresa’s pledge is to continue to volunteer to run these workshops to help everyone improve their understanding of dementia.

Both Mandy and Theresa run their training sessions all year round so that we can encourage all staff to keep their knowledge about the condition fresh and up to date. It is National Dementia Awareness Week, and we are always keen to show our support as we unite with the Alzheimers’ Society against dementia.

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