In England more than 850,000 people live with dementia and that figure is set to increase to over two million by 2051. The big question is what can we do to meet the challenges presented by dementia? Should we prioritise prevention over cure? The answer of course is that we should do both.
A critical part of this is considering the quality of life of the millions of people currently living with the condition. As a society, it is vital that we promote education and learning programmes. Most notably, we should ensure that health and social care professionals have the right training and requisite skillsets to deliver compassionate and effective care to those living with dementia.
Having studied and worked in the field of dementia for over 35 years, I believe there is a wide gulf between theory and practice. I have dedicated my life to closing that gap. In attempting to do so, I have worked in collaboration with QCS, the leading provider of content, guidance and standards for the social care sector, to create the Dementia Centre. Put simply, it offers social care workers a ground-breaking set of tools and resources to help them transform the assessment and management of care provision for those living with dementia.
The Dementia Centre enables care workers to deliver and evidence better dementia care using five powerful and proven tools, which include an updated version of the PAL Instrument, Mental Capacity Act Assessment examples and a QCS Dementia Compliance Index. Subscribers can also access a staff Competency Rating Tool that supports the action-based learning achieved by using Purposeful Practice Guides. In addition, there is also the ability to research resources including 19 books, 13 films and half a dozen cutting-edge research papers.
So, how do the resources combine to transform the way that care professionals support the cognitive and functional ability of those who use their services?
To begin with, the PAL instrument assesses the level of functional ability of people with cognitive impairments. It includes a Guide to those delivering care, ensuring that the support is delivered at the ‘just the right’ level. It also provides a definitive baseline against which cognitive changes can be measured in order to support opportunities for meaningful engagement.
Secondly, the mental capacity evaluation assessment examples and the Compliance Index support professional carers to ensure that they are meeting the standards of regulators and commissioners of their service. The tools also provide regulators with assurance that carers are providing the right care in the right way for people with dementia who are using services.
Once care workers have assessed mental capacity, they can then introduce the nine specially tailored Purposeful Practice Guides within the Dementia Centre. These guides describe how to support people in a specific activity, such as tending to their continence care needs or enhancing their dining experience, at a particular cognitive level. Purposeful Practice also ensures that the care given is individualised to their unique personality and to their physical and emotional needs.
To supplement learning and improvement, QCS has created a reflective practice tool, which allows a supervisor to observe staff and assess practice on a four-point scale. Moreover, embedding this tool into the culture of a care service alongside QCS’s policies and procedures has an added benefit. Regulators, such as the CQC, are likely to look favourably on a real-world methodology that encourages providers to pro-actively benchmark and record improvement.
With the British Medical Council’s (BMC) dementia education audit reporting that many dementia training packages in the UK heath and care sector are not of sufficient duration to derive impact, what better way to add value than creating a dedicated resource that aims to close this ever-widening gap in knowledge and skills?