Ensuring your carers have the skills and knowledge to support people with dementia
Dementia Awareness Week 2023
This year, Dementia Awareness Week begins on May 15th to May 21st; it usually takes place on the third Monday of May and is organised by Alzheimer's Society, the largest national organisation and charity that campaigns for awareness, funds research to find a cure and supports people living with dementia.
To coincide with #dementiaawarenessweek, Person Centred Software, a market leader in care home software and provider of the UK's most widely used Digital Social Care Record, discusses how Oomph Wellness, the UK's leading well-being business for older adults, helps upskill carers in understanding the challenges someone living with dementia may face when communicating.
What is dementia?The word 'dementia' is used to describe a set of symptoms that, over time, can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. The next most common is vascular dementia.
Dementia is caused by different diseases that damage the brain. The symptoms get worse over time and include:
- Memory loss
- Confusion and needing help with daily tasks
- Problems with language and understanding
- Changes in behaviour.
Dementia is progressive, meaning symptoms may be relatively mild at first, but they worsen over time.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
Dementia affects every individual differently. Different types of dementia also tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages.
The common early signs and symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss – difficulty recalling things that happened recently
- Having trouble concentrating, planning or organising – struggling to make decisions, solve problems or follow a series of steps (such as preparing a meal)
- Mood changes or difficulty controlling emotions – becoming anxious, sad, irritable, or frightened and losing interest in things and personality changes
- Language and communication difficulties – finding it hard to follow a conversation or find the right word for something
- Misunderstanding what is being seen – finding it hard to judge distances (such as on stairs) or perceive the edges of objects, and misinterpreting patterns or reflections
- Being confused about a time or a place – losing track of time or dates or becoming confused about where they are.
Who is at risk of developing dementia?
According to Alzheimer's Society, around 900,000 people in the UK have dementia. Dementia, more common amongst women than men, mainly affects people aged 65 and over.
1 in 14 people over the age of 65 has dementia - this rises to 1 in 6 for people aged 80 or over.
Dementia can also affect younger people - this is often called young-onset dementia. Around 1 in 20 people with dementia are younger than 65 (more than 42,000 people in the UK who are under 65 have dementia).
Why do some people get dementia and not others?
There is no apparent reason why some people develop dementia and others don't. It can depend on a combination of things, such as genes, age, lifestyle and other health conditions.
It has been found that most types of dementia are not passed down (inherited) from parent to child. However, a few genes can cause dementia if passed from a parent to a child, which is rare - known as 'familial' genes.
There are several factors that can increase chances of developing dementia, including:
- High blood pressure
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Physical inactivity
- Hearing loss
The biggest risk factor for dementia is ageing. However, there are things people can do to lower their risk of developing dementia in the future.
- Eating healthily
- Exercising your mind
- Being physically active regularly
- Staying mentally and socially active
- Taking control of your health
- Don't smoke!
- Drink less alcohol.
Dementia care – a person-centred approach
People living with dementia and their families have every right to be treated with respect, dignity and compassion. To achieve the best quality of care for people living with dementia, registered managers and carers need to deliver a person-centred approach.
A person-centred approach to dementia care prioritises the wishes and overall wellbeing of the residents. Taking this approach requires care staff to develop the skills they need so that they can understand the physical, visual, and hearing challenges associated with dementia and have an understanding of what life might be like with dementia.
Carers and other health and social care professionals must have the necessary skills and knowledge to help and care for those living with dementia.
A lack of knowledge and understanding about dementia can often lead to difficulties. For example, carers who have not undertaken dementia training may find it difficult to understand why a person is behaving in a particular way.
Oomph Wellness (part of Person Centred Software's family of products) offers a wide range of training courses and workshops designed by experts to help care teams develop the skills they need and improve every aspect of their wellbeing delivery.
Jade Ellis, a Wellbeing Expert Manager and Trainer at Oomph, who's worked in the care industry for over 20 years, discusses the 'Effective Communication in Dementia Care' workshop, which helps care teams support people living with dementia to ensure they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
What is covered in the dementia training workshop?
The 'Effective Communication in Dementia Care workshop helps to upskill care workers in understanding the challenges someone living with dementia may face when communicating. It will provide care teams with techniques and practices to deliver excellent quality care to the people they support. It will highlight areas such as the brain's function in communication, verbal and nonverbal communication and techniques for providing a positive first approach.
Care teams will learn the following:
- Dementia and the different types
- How communication in the brain is affected by dementia
- Understanding the need for good communication and why it may become difficult for someone living with dementia
- How carers can support someone with communication difficulties, focusing on verbal and nonverbal, their positive approach, written and pictorial
- The benefits of music in dementia care
- The importance of language used in documentation
What are the learning outcomes of the dementia training workshop?
By the end of this session, carers will be able to:
- Understand what dementia is and the different types
- Understand the impact that dementia has on the brain
- Support someone with communication difficulties to maintain a sense of self, sustain relationships and quality of life
- Understand valuable techniques to help aid someone with communication difficulties
- Ensure documentation is comprehensive, precise and does not stigmatise
When is the dementia training workshop delivered?
The 'Effective Communication in Dementia Care' workshop is available throughout the year.
Who should sign up for the dementia training workshop?
This workshop is suitable for wellbeing leads, activity coordinators, and
carers who participate in activities looking after a person with dementia or wish to learn more about the condition.
Is the dementia training workshop face-to-face or virtual?
What's the duration of the dementia training workshop?