Training the Dementia Workforce


Last month an Alzheimer’s Society investigation showed that only 2% of people affected by dementia say homecare workers have enough dementia training.


Key findings from the Alzheimer’s Society survey of over 1,220 people affected by dementia showed that 49% of the people surveyed did not think that ‘homecare workers understand the specific needs of people with dementia’, and that 38% did not think that ‘homecare workers know how to treat people with dementia with understanding and dignity’.


These are pretty damming statistics for our sector, and ones that we must not shy away from. Whilst there is much good practice to celebrate – and we aim to always provide care that falls within this description – the way home care services in general appear to be failing people with dementia is shocking.


The scale of the challenge is also eye-watering. Alzheimer’s Society say that more than 400,000 people with dementia are believed to receive homecare and there are 520,000 homecare workers – more than the NHS total of Doctors, GPs and Nursing staff (506,000). Yet more than one in three (38%) of homecare workers have no dementia training and the majority (71%) do not receive dementia training that is accredited.


As a potential solution, the Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the Government to fund a dementia training pathway for homecare workers, in addition to stricter minimum standards of dementia training and closer inspection of care providers. To build momentum for this campaign, the Alzheimer’s Society are urging everyone to sign their ‘Fix Dementia Care’ petition.


We have signed the petition and fully support its aims, but our thinking has gone deeper than just this public declaration. Currently our dementia training is part of the Care Certificate (Standard 9) which is an introduction to dementia. It is around 3 hours and gives staff a good basic understanding. We have also used Dementia UK training courses in the past.


Looking ahead to 2017, we are intending to have a half-day workshop as part of our induction week that gives more in-depth knowledge, and we are committed to continually monitoring and evaluating our staff. We also regularly gather feedback from the people who receive care and support from us (including people with dementia), as well as our staff, to identify (and remedy) any gaps in the knowledge of our workforce.


For us, our commitment to constantly evolving the training we offer our staff is about ensuring that the standard of dementia care they provide is what any of us would want for ourselves or our loves ones.