Centre for Dementia Research

Changing policy and practice in dementia workforce education and training

Leeds Beckett research has changed national and international policy and practices and set benchmark quality standards in the design, delivery and implementation of dementia education and training.

Changing policy and practice in dementia workforce education and training

The challenge

Dementia affects 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in 6 people over the age of 80. The impact can be physical, emotional, and psychological and that can affect every aspect of day-to-day life for those living with a diagnosis. It affects over 944,000 in the UK and over 50 million people worldwide making it an international health priority.

Ensuring that those working in health and social care have the right knowledge, attitudes and skills is crucial for the delivery of good quality, compassionate dementia care. It is important that training on dementia for health and social care staff is impactful and enables them to deliver high-quality care.

The Approach

Research carried out by the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University, looked at how to design and deliver impactful dementia training.

The study reviewed existing research, surveyed health and social care provider organisations and staff and looked in-depth at how some providers designed, delivered, and implemented dementia training.

It found that there were over 380 separate dementia training programmes available in the UK, with high variability in content and how they were delivered. The content of many training programmes did not align with national standards, particularly for those working in specialist dementia roles. The research identified the key features of impactful dementia training which included:

  • Face-to-face delivery
  • Interactive teaching methods with content tailored to the learner’s service setting and role
  • In-depth, focussed content on key subjects
  • Use of discussion, case example-based exercises and opportunities to apply learning in practice-related scenarios
  • Delivery by an experienced training facilitator
  • Training length of at least half a day, with individual sessions of at least 90-120 mins

Key barriers and facilitators to implementing training in practice included having appropriate resources, and supportive leadership and organisational culture.

The impact

The What works study has shaped national policy and practice around the design, delivery and quality assurance of dementia education and training for the health and social care workforce at governmental, provider and practitioner levels. For example, the key features of impactful training define the gold-standard for training design and delivery in English and international government and professional body guidance. They have been adopted by health, social care, and training provider organisations to underpin dementia training delivered to thousands of staff.

The prominence of the study’s findings in national policy and guidance on dementia training quality assurance has facilitated widespread adoption by training and health and care service providers across the spectrum of provision, changing the way training is designed, delivered, and implemented nationally, with evidence of wider interest beyond the UK.

  • Surr, C., Gates, C., Irving, D., Oyebode, J., Smith, S.J., Parveen, S., Drury-Payne, M. and Dennison, A. (2017) Effective dementia education and training for the health and social care workforce: A systematic review of the literature. Review of Educational Research. 87(5): 966-1002 https://doi.org/10.3102%2F0034654317723305.
  • Smith, S.J., Parveen, S., Sass, C., Drury, M., Oyebode, J. and Surr, C. (2019) An audit of dementia education and training in UK health and social care: a comparison with national benchmark standards. BMC Health Services Research. 19, 711 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-4510-6 IF 1.987.
  • Surr, C., Sass, C., Burnley, N., Drury, M., Smith, S., Parveen, S., Burden, S. and Oyebode, J. (2020) Components of impactful dementia training for general hospital staff: a collective case study Aging and Mental Health. 24(3):511-521 https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2018.1531382 (epub 29.12.18).
  • Sass, C., Burnley, N., Oyebode, J., Drury, M. and Surr, C. (2019) Factors associated with successful dementia education for Practitioners in Primary Care: An in-depth case study BMC Medical Education. 19: 393 doi: 10.1186/s12909-019-1833-2.
  • Surr, C.A., Sass, C., Drury, M., Burnley, N., Dennison, A., Burden, S., and Oyebode, J. (2019) A collective case study of the features of impactful dementia training for care home staff BMC Geriatrics 19:175 doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1186-z.
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