There is little doubt, whatever your views on the current provision of dementia care in England, that ‘dementia’ is much more in the public’s consciousness compared to 2012 when the Dementia Challenge was launched by the then Prime Minister of the UK. The current ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020’, referred to several times in this booklet, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/414344/pm-dementia2020.pdf. There is critically a need to align the success of the ‘Dementia Friends’ social movement (https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk), spearheaded by the UK Alzheimer’s Society, with an improved consciousness of wider issues to do with dementia in healthcare settings beyond the traditional medical model. Putting ‘dementia friendly health and social care settings’ into practice necessitates a workforce which is literate in the key contemporary issues of dementia care beyond the biology, often identified in cutting edge research, and it is essential that all the members of the workforce are able to cut across their traditional subject interests, whether in physical health, social care, mental health, or otherwise.
In all of my dementia books, I have tried to cross traditional subject boundaries to draw on appropriate knowledge from other academic disciplines to reflect critically on the application of a strengths based person-centred approach to supporting the daily life of people with dementia. The HEDN (“A Curriculum for UK Dementia Education”) is an open forum for those who teach or manage courses related to dementia care based within Universities in the UK. As part of its commitment to improve professional education in dementia care, HEDN developed a Curriculum for Dementia Education. This curriculum was designed to guide Higher Education providers in the key areas for inclusion in courses related to dementia care, at both pre-registration and post-qualifying levels, and is underpinned by a number of essential values and themes (https://www.dementiauk.org/for-healthcare-professionals/free-resources/download-the-curriculum-for-demenita-education/). I feel that Admiral nurses, from the leading charity Dementia UK, have been pivotal in educating the workforce, regardless of care setting, ranging from hospitals to hospices.
This booklet is designed to parallel another educational contribution as well. The “Dementia Core Skills Education and Training Framework” was originally commissioned and funded by the Department of Health and developed in collaboration by Skills for Health and Health Education England in partnership with Skills for Care (see for an overview http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/services/item/176-dementia-core-skills-education-and-training-framework). My main concern is that people who don’t work in dementia or meet people living beyond a diagnosis of dementia routinely may not be able to see ‘the wood from the trees’ in understanding dementia. This could be due to a plethora of reasons – not least for not having time or resources to attend expensive conferences on the subject. It is essential that research and services are not built around the needs of researchers and institutions, and failure to recognise this can easily explain why some professionals and practitioners operate in a mindset that people with dementia and care partners are passive recipients not active partners of care. My ‘signposts’ in this booklet are not commissioned by anyone for any money. So, therefore, I feel I’ve been able to speak my mind about what’s best in current practice and research. I have done this work out of goodwill entirely pro bono.
The potential target audiences differ according to different ‘tiers’:
Tier 2: Health and social care staff who regularly work with people living with dementia including staff providing direct care and support.
Tier 3: Key staff (experts) who regularly work with people living with dementia and who provide leadership in transforming care including social care managers and leaders. A recurrent goal is for the learner to be able to contribute to the development of practices and services that meet the needs of families and carers.
I should, however, like to include in this “experts” who live beyond a diagnosis or are care partners. You could do little better, as a professional or practitioner, for example than to read the blog of ‘Dementia Alliance International’, a stakeholder group of people living beyond a diagnosis of dementia and non-profit organisation.
I cannot take responsibility for the content in third party hyperlinks or papers, and this document is not to be taken as professional advice. You are strongly recommended to use this brief document as a resource of ‘signposts’ alongside any other learning you are participating in.
I have written about many of the topics one way or other in my three books on dementia, listed below:
Rahman, S. (2014) Living well with dementia: the importance of the person and the environment, Oxford: CRC Press.
Rahman, S. (2015) Living better with dementia: good practice and innovation for the future, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Rahman, S. (2017) Enhancing health and wellbeing in dementia: a person-centred integrated care approach, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
The free information provided through the Alzheimer’s Society is excellent, and meets the standard for the NHS Information Standard (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/homepage/250/publications_about_dementia )
There are additional ways of keeping up with innovations in dementia service education and learnong: for example, “Dementia Pathfinders” http://dementiapathfinders.org. I should like you especially to use this booklet as a ‘launchpad’ for your further studies into what dementia is, its significance for people living with dementia, friends and family. Whatever your specialty, I should strongly urge you to seek further education in dementia, in whatever form that takes. Please feel free to evaluate critically what you read here to improve the quality of discourse.
London, March 2017