What makes great dementia training?
Beth Britton gives her advice on the key components of truly impactful learning and development
With Dementia Awareness Week in full swing, many care providers will be prompted to think about how to improve the dementia support that their staff team provides. Sourcing training isn’t difficult, there are packages and models of care everywhere, but what should you look for?
As someone whose father was in dementia care homes for nine years, and now supports care providers in a professional capacity, these are my top tips for training that is as impactful for staff as it is for the people they are supporting and their families.
1. Choose dementia training that is grounded in personal experience. A lot of training has a very formulaic approach that takes staff through the scientific elements and then moves onto common features of good care. At some point it may begin to refer to people’s personal experiences of dementia, but often that is sorely lacking. It must always be reflected in training that the real experts in dementia aren’t scientists but people who are living with dementia. Only by identifying with the person behind the dementia and their family can dementia training really strike at the heart of those receiving it.
2. It must be relevant to the particular experiences staff and the people they support are having. In other words, you can learn everything there is to know about the brain and the different types of dementia, but if you cannot equate that to the person in front of you, what their needs are and how you respond to those needs, you will never deliver the best support for them
3. Training must inspire. It should bring the unique opportunities to improve dementia care alive for participants, draw out their creativity, and leave them buzzing with ideas that they will want to implement.
4. Which brings me on to the next point, the effects of training must be long-lasting. Classroom training can only ever take staff to a restricted level – the real advancement comes from practical application. The most important investment you can ever make as a provider is in the crucial mentoring that comes after formal training. Mentoring should embed what has been learnt, and support staff to develop their practice alongside the people they are supporting and their families.
5. Finally, training and mentoring should be enjoyable. It is a basic feature of human nature that when we enjoy something, we want to do more of it. Staff who enjoy their training and mentoring experiences will want to deliver great care and support, will form trusting and happy relationships with the people they are supporting and their families, and are more likely to be loyal and reliable employees who look forward to coming to work.
You can find out more about Beth’s work, which includes consultancy, dementia training and mentoring, by visiting her website: www.bethbritton.com