Alzheimer’s Society Shows 98% of Home Carers Lack Dementia Training

A new investigation by the Alzheimer’s Society has highlighted widespread failures in the provision of home care to people living with dementia. Most shockingly, the society’s research revealed that only 2% of people affected by dementia say homecare workers have enough dementia training.

The investigation found a vicious cycle where a lack of dementia training for homecare workers resulted in high levels of stress for people with dementia and their families, and also for the carers themselves. In many cases, poor quality care was found to be leaving people with dementia spending the day in soiled clothing, going without food or water, or, unnecessarily being admitted to hospital or a care home rather than remaining in their own home as they wished.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s petition to ‘fix dementia care’ had been signed by over 11,000 people within 48 hours, suggesting that coverage of this problem is likely to increase and that you should be ready to respond to questions about your own approach to dementia training. Read on to learn about the steps you should take to make sure your staff have the training they need and to show the public your commitment to dementia care.

Key findings from the Alzheimer’s Society survey of over 1,220 people affected by dementia include:

  • Only 2% of people affected by dementia say homecare workers ‘have enough dementia training’.
  • Half (49%) of people affected by dementia do not think that ‘homecare workers understand the specific needs of people with dementia’.
  • More than a third (38%) of people affected by dementia do not think that ‘homecare workers know how to treat people with dementia with understanding and dignity’.

Furthermore, respondents to the survey described situations where people living with dementia were:

  • Not provided with food or water, not properly supported to eat and not assisted in choosing meals.
  • Not given a bath or shower for weeks and left in dirty clothes for days.
  • Left to sleep in wet or soiled bed sheets.
  • Spoken down to, asked confusing questions, or not spoken to at all.
  • Reported missing with police after leaving their home which hadn’t been properly secured.
  • Not given their medication, or their medication was mixed up or thrown away.
  • Left with an infection which was not identified causing avoidable emergency hospital admissions.
  • Forced to move to a care home because the homecare workers could not cope with their needs.

4 Steps to Ensure Your Service is Ready to Meet the Needs of People with Dementia

  1. Recruitment: Discuss dementia at interview to establish whether candidates are likely to have the qualities and values that they will need to provide effective dementia care. Many applicants underestimate the needs of the people they may be asked to care for or have a negative view of dementia. By screening out unsuitable candidates at this stage, you can avoid problems in the future.
  2. Induction: Dementia awareness should be part of every induction, whether as part of the Care Certificate or within your in-house programme. Ensure sufficient focus is given to dementia training not just in ensuring an understanding of the types and causes but also in practical areas such as communication and approach. Expecting staff simply to use common sense will almost lead to problems.
  3. Dementia Friends: Encourage all of your staff to sign up as Dementia Friends via the Alzheimer’s Society and aim to have your own Dementia Friends Champion within your service. Your involvement in this scheme sends out a positive message both to your staff and to the wider public and provides further opportunities for improving knowledge.
  4. Competency testing: Use a dementia competency tool such as a multiple choice questionnaire to periodically test the dementia knowledge of your team. By including typical scenarios they may encounter, you can check how they would respond and take remedial action if needed.

Resources, templates and other step-by-step guidance to best practice in care are all available from our sister publication, Care Quality Matters – which now features the regular Dementia: Care and Support supplement. Click here to find out more.

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