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Study identifies elements for effective dementia training and education


A team of researchers, led by staff at Leeds Beckett University, has launched a tool to improve the quality of training for health and social care staff that provide care for people with dementia.


The ‘What Works in dementia training and education? study’ reviewed the elements required for effective dementia training and education for the health and social care workforce. From this the components most likely to lead to effective dementia training were identified and have been turned into an audit tool that can be used by health and social care providers, training providers and commissioners to help with effective training design, delivery and purchasing.

The study was funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme, on behalf of Health Education England (HEE). 

Key ingredients for effective training that are incorporated into the audit tool include:

  • Tailoring training to the service setting and staff group attending
  • Using face-to-face delivery methods with opportunity for interactive activities and group discussion
  • Inclusion of opportunities to apply learning within practice, or practice-based situations
  • Having training that is at least 3.5-hours duration with even longer training showing greater benefits
  • Delivery by an experience training facilitator who is also experienced in dementia care

The research team was led by Claire Surr, Professor of Dementia Studies at Leeds Beckett alongside collaborators from the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds.

Speaking about the audit tool, Professor Claire Surr said: “There has been a strong agenda around making sure we have an informed and effective dementia care workforce for a number of years and a huge drive, therefore, to increase staff training in that area. To date care and training providers have had limited information about what to look for when designing or purchasing a dementia training programme. We hope the audit tool will provide individuals and organisations, with an evidence-based set of criteria that reflect good practice in the design and delivery of dementia training. This may lead to resources being invested in programmes that are more likely to lead to successful outcomes.” 

The audit tool has been adopted by HEE as its standard method for assessing training materials and packages it recommends via its dementia training website.

Jan Zietara, National Dementia Education and Training Project Lead at Health Education England said: “Health Education England recognises there is a wide range of dementia education and training packages available and that there is variability in terms of quality.  We are therefore keen to understand approaches that really make a difference to outcomes for people with dementia and their families. We considered that an audit tool would be a useful and practical output from ‘What Works?’ enabling those designing, delivering or commissioning education to focus on the quality of their training offer.”

The audit tool is free to use and is available for download from the What Works? study website http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/school-of-health-and-community-studies/what-works/

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