A residential home in East Cowes has become the first Isle of Wight care home to receive a brand new package of training from the Dementia Awareness Partnership. The sessions use presentations and video to spotlight the stages of the journey people with dementia will go through. The training shows examples of best practice and will help care home staff to engage more effectively with the individual needs of residents who have dementia.

The Dementia Awareness Partnership is an Island based initiative whose aim is to spread a better understanding of dementia amongst the wider community. The partnership has been developed based on the experience gained by Alzheimer Cafés Isle of Wight, Carers Isle of Wight and experts by experience.

The training is designed to bridge the gap in understanding of the issues around dementia. Currently there is no regulation that specifies the quality of dementia training within the care sector and even though care homes are inspected by the Care Quality Commission, neither their inspectors nor their ‘experts by experience’ have any training in how to communicate with people with dementia.

Barry Jackman, the course coordinator for the Dementia Awareness Partnership said:
“I’m thrilled that Kynance Residential Home is the first recipient of our training and I hope that every care home on the Island eventually receives training like this. Our aim is to give staff at care homes additional training and make them accredited to our standards so that they can go on to provide the training themselves in their own workplace. We want to make dementia awareness more widely available. We’ve started our programme with residential care and we’re going to begin training in the domiciliary care sector early next month.”

“Everybody with dementia is an individual and should be treated individually. We hear a lot about ‘person-centred care’ but the truth is that this approach is not commonplace throughout the care system. We are trying to show that although a person’s progress through the disease will be unique, there’s a wide range of skills that can be used to help in different situations and individual challenges. Purposeful interaction must take place. It’s not good enough to sit people in a circle in a room and give them a cup of tea from time to time. They need to be stimulated proactively and to feel that they are part of a community.”

Kynance Residential Home has between 20 and 30 residents. Staff received the training on-site over several sessions.

There are already 39 DAP accredited trainers across the Island who have completed both a four-day course in “Communication and Care-giving in Dementia” and a two-day “Educators/Training Course” by Dr Gemma Jones, one of the UK’s leading dementia authorities. They now provide training within their own workplaces where it is hoped colleagues will become inspired to follow their lead; one member of the Kynance staff also hopes to become an accredited trainer by attending this year’s programme.

Trainers are equipped to tailor their courses to suit their organisations. Presentations made to professional care givers will differ in content from those given to members of the public or a younger (school age) audience though the body of knowledge on which presentations are based, will remain constant.

A full list of trainers can be found on this website. These include: residential care homes, domiciliary care providers, IW NHS Trust, IWC, Mountbatten Hospice, Age UK IW, Southern Housing Group, Driving Miss Daisy, Glanvilles Solicitors and many more. When training sessions are arranged their dates are published and spare places may be booked by anyone wishing to learn more about dementia. There is no charge for attendance.

The team at Kynance praised the training as a valuable update to their dementia training which presented a new way of looking at the experience from a patient’s point of view.

Linda McNamara, senior carer and nutritionist said:
“I do feel more informed now. I’ve learned more about communicating with people with dementia. The training explained how we can work along with them to help reduce fears and anxiety. Knowing the life history of our residents is a big help. We’ve learned how to start a conversation and how to help someone relax a bit more.”

Brenna Scurr, care assistant said:
“I would definitely recommend this training and I think a lot of the other care homes I’ve worked in previously would benefit from these sessions. The programme shows just how the behaviour of someone with dementia is based in fear. It has helped us to understand a bit more behind the emotions they’re presenting. We learnt about the Bookcase Model which was an excellent present way of showing what happens to memory.”