“Dementia robs millions of people of their memories, independence and dignity… The world is failing people with dementia, and that hurts all of us…” This was just one of the hard-hitting messages issued by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), late last month to coincide with the launch of a new report showing the number of people with dementia will increase by 40 percent by 2030. [i]
In the UK, where more than 850,000 people[ii] currently live with dementia, meeting the many complex challenges surrounding the condition is listed as one of the NHS’s top ten priorities, while last year the government launched the ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020’.
But, in the social care sector, and in the health sector for that matter, there is an additional obstacle. When supporting people with dementia, care and health professionals often experience a gaping chasm between the theory of caring for someone with dementia and the practice of actually doing so.
QCS Dementia Centre: putting condition-based care at the heart of the product
Quality Compliance Systems (QCS), the leading provider of content, guidance and standards for the social care sector, and the organisation that I work for, was keen to address this gap that exists between theory and practice. As a company that prides itself on providing care professionals with the right content tools at the right time so they can focus all their efforts on delivering the best possible care, QCS created QCS Dementia Centre.
My role, as the company’s Chief Product Officer, is to work with industry-leading experts – such as Jackie Pool, QCS’s Dementia Care Champion – to create a highly intuitive interface that care services can access across all channels.
How does QCS Dementia Centre provide a solution to the dementia knowledge and skills gap? In a nutshell, it offers social care workers a pioneering set of tools and extensive multi-media resources to help them transform the assessment and management of care provision for those living with dementia.
QCS Dementia Centre: moving dementia training from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’.
From a product perspective the biggest sea-change is that Dementia Centre has transformed QCS from a compliance provider to one that specialises in supplying condition-based care guidance. In this respect, Dementia Centre shifts the dial. It enables care workers to not only ask ‘what do I need to do?’ but also ‘how do I do it?’ and for the hub to provide the answers. This is what makes QCS Dementia Centre unique.
How is this achieved? Dementia Centre resources include the world-renowned PAL Instrument, a Mental Capacity Act Assessment tool, a QCS Dementia Compliance Index and a library of digital content. To begin with, these resources allow a professional care team to understand each person’s individual cognitive threshold and assess mental capacity.
Once this has been established, using the PAL Instrument and a selection of nine specifically curated purposeful practice guides, Dementia Centre teaches care workers how to acquire new skills. Most importantly, a reflective practice tool, which enables a supervisor to monitor and evaluate progress, gives care workers the confidence to flourish, while at the same time ensuring that they meet and exceed the highest industry standards.
Closing the skills and training gap
Such an innovative and pioneering approach to dementia care can, I believe, go a long way towards narrowing the divide between theory and practice. And there’s an urgent need to achieve this, if statistics are anything to go by.
A report by Skills for Care Workforce, for example, states that only 44 percent of care staff in England are recorded as having had training in dementia.[iii]
In domiciliary care too, the gap between theory and practice is also evident. A study conducted by The Alzheimer’s Society in 2016 found that a third of homecare workers receive no specialist dementia training. The report also found examples of domiciliary care staff refusing to make additional visits to someone with dementia as they felt unprepared and helpless. Finally, it revealed that only 2 percent of service users surveyed felt that homecare professionals had enough dementia training.[iv]
These statistics also make the case for a condition-based support approach. Reading between the lines, they show that to really enhance the quality of care that carers deliver, the level of dementia training required needs to transcend best practice guidance and regulatory standards.
QCS’s long-term aim
QCS has long been associated with helping organisations to fulfil and indeed surpass their regulatory and compliance requirements. However, at the same time, we feel very strongly that if the monumental challenges presented by dementia are to be met head on, the bar for support needs to be raised even higher.
Therefore, in addition to filling the skills gap, we have a long-term vision, which we believe to be eminently achievable. It is to build an online community of dementia experts. We believe that Dementia Centre will become a wellspring for learning and a central hub for sharing best practice content. By leveraging Dementia Centre’s multimedia channels, we want to actively encourage experts from a range of different backgrounds, with varying skillsets, to share their knowledge and experience with front-line workers.
From a product standpoint, if we are to create such an empowering resource, we need to put in place the technological infrastructure to support growth. That means using state-of-the-art software to help contributors to showcase and share their content in the most dynamic and powerful way. Technology can also help to ensure that people are able to network and work together seamlessly and effectively to deliver the best possible dementia care.
That said, it is the content, the people and the collective desire to affect lasting change that will always be the greatest driver. At QCS, laying the foundations to nurture this potentially game-changing environment has – and always will be – our ultimate goal.
For the 55 million people across the world currently living with dementia, creating a core resource that brings together a community of experts, all of whom are highly skilled in looking at the disease through this novel lens, can’t come soon enough.
Find out more about the Dementia Centre below
The article was first published in The Carer, Issue #69