During lockdown in 2020 we started delivering virtual training in our approach for family carers, via online meetings. In 2021 we added a course for professionals working in health and social care.
Training for Health and Care Professionals
Our online interactive training for health and care professionals is simple to understand, but is suitable for professionals working at any level with people living with dementia.
Dementia training aimed at professionals often has a biomedical emphasis, focusing on statistics, anatomical changes and deficits, leaving little time to consider the experience of those on the receiving end of care or interventions. Anyone working in this sector needs to understand how dementia affects the person, and not just how it affects their brain, body and behaviour.
Our approach focuses on well-being rather than on cognitive deficits. It is evidence-based and draws on the work of Tom Kitwood, Penny Garner, Naomi Feil and other experts in the field. Our courses look at the nature of dementia, how its effects on memory and behaviour differ from normal age-related issues, and the impact that has on well-being.
Front-line care workers interact with clients on a very personal level. Supporting personal care and everyday activities in a consistently benign manner helps to avoid or reduce distress that can otherwise lead to behavioural problems.
Healthcare professionals often have large caseloads and little time to get to know individuals before treating them. Our techniques will help you to make the most of each encounter and build positive relationships as you work, promoting trust and cooperation.
Rather than merely building on trainees’ existing knowledge, this training involves a change of mindset over nine one-hour weekly sessions to embrace a new understanding of dementia. The course begins by looking at normal memory, the nature of well-being and the adverse effects of age and stress. It highlights the profound change that dementia brings to the person’s well-being, memory and behaviour. The training identifies the direct results of the dementia itself, the indirect effects of the responses of others and the ways in which our approach can either support or obstruct the individual’s own coping strategies.
Over the duration of the course, trainees will develop skills in using techniques for working positively with the condition and its symptoms, as opposed to fighting them. This can reduce the impact of dementia on the person at every stage of the condition. By supporting all aspects of well-being, stress levels are reduced, physical, mental and cognitive abilities are optimised, and behaviour becomes less of an issue.
On completion of the course, trainees will receive a CPD certificate and the opportunity to continue discussions via our private online group for professionals.
Professional Trainees – Testimonials
“Out of all the dementia courses I have done, this was by far the best and most thought provoking. It has allowed me to think differently and have a greater understanding of how to interact with residents. It has been a great source of information and I am grateful I have had the chance to be involved. I think everyone working with those living with dementia should enrol on this course.”
“I am an Occupational Therapist working with people with dementia in a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) as well as a Community Learning Disabilities Team. I attended the nine-week course for professionals in November 2021. Each session was only an hour long and introduced one new concept. In the past I have attended a number of courses on dementia, but this one has definitely altered my practice.
With every session I was able to gradually change how I interacted with people with dementia, and support their carers to improve their communication skills. I now focus on feelings, not facts. I ask a lot fewer questions. I have also been able to support people to experience fewer incidents of aggression, agitation, or distress.
At the time of the course, I was running a small therapeutic group for people with dementia, based on principles of cognitive stimulation. As the course went on, I adapted my practice and included fewer recall exercises. I began to rely more on people’s feelings, which led them to engage better in the group.
I now fully incorporate the course recommendations into my everyday practice. When completing PAL assessments reports, I now include additional recommendations on communication skills. The principles of the course can be applied to people with dementia with or without learning disabilities. I would highly recommend the course to professionals, particularly occupational therapists, but also family carers or carers’ groups, who might find that looking after their loved ones becomes more manageable”.
“This course is by far the best and most practical of all courses I have attended on dementia. It focuses on how to work with people who have dementia to enable them to be in a state of well-being as much as possible…. The method used to achieve this is unlike a method anyone else has ever suggested….Shirley is passionate about dementia and extremely knowledgeable. She has worked to perfect her approach, and has many examples to demonstrate how it works…..The interactive course includes delegates sharing experiences, and problem solving using very useful and practical suggestions from Shirley…It is very thought provoking, and positive, and has filled me with enthusiasm and hope that I can work with people with dementia and their carers, in a way that enables wellbeing”.
“As an occupational therapist working in dementia care for many years, this course helped validate what I was already doing and encouraged me to try different approaches to common behaviours. It was so good to focus on ways to help people with dementia feel listened to and to build their confidence, rather than viewing their behaviour as something to be managed with medication. The tips were easy to understand and apply, and my patients have felt understood and able to contribute more confidently. Not asking questions and communicating ‘adult’ to ‘adult’ rather than ‘parent’ to ‘child’ have been really helpful techniques, and have been easy to explain to carers. This is a different way of looking at things which values the person for who they are and encourages us to put their wellbeing first, rather than our own process-driven agenda”.
“Attending the course that Understanding Dementia runs was an absolute game changer for me! … It taught me to follow my human instincts and focus on the feelings of the with people with dementia that I support – that their feelings should be my number one priority. And in this way, I can maintain a connection with them and always leave them feeling content and happy… [The course] makes logical, practical sense…and is engaging and emotive. I think everyone should have to do it!”
Who is this training for?
Understanding Dementia training for professionals is suitable for everyone working in health or care settings, especially those who regularly encounter people living with dementia. When care is shared among staff who are all trained in this approach, it has a more seamless and unobtrusive feel. We can deliver a bespoke course for your team – please ask for details.