With dementia on the rise, palliative care services are increasingly supporting people with dementia, as a primary or secondary diagnosis. Care provision can be challenging for palliative care staff who may have limited experience and knowledge of supporting people with dementia.
A survey assessed the confidence and competence in supporting people with dementia for healthcare staff in inpatient and community palliative care services. Only 10% of hospice staff had received any formal dementia training. Based on areas of need identified, we worked with a training provider to develop a bespoke training course on supporting people with dementia in palliative care. The course was delivered to 41 staff within a hospice, and the impact assessed. Prior to training, 30% of staff reported they were ‘not at all confident’ in caring for people with dementia. Post-training all staff reported feeling ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ confident. Staff reported that the training:
Helped them recognise dementia as a terminal condition and how palliative care can support people with dementia
Improved understanding of ‘challenging’ behaviours and managing these
Taught them enabling approaches to care provision which they felt would improve their practice.
Staff trainers across both settings are integrating this into core curriculum. The positive response represents a culture change. Staff better understand the value of palliative care for people with dementia and are motivated to explore how care practices can be improved for people with dementia. The organisation recognises this work as best practice and are exploring its potential as a national training standard.
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