Strategies to deliver dementia training and education in the acute hospital setting

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Abstract

Aims and objectives:

This UK study aimed to generate new ideas about training strategies for healthcare staff caring for people with dementia in the acute hospital setting.

Background:

A review of related literature exposed topical debate regarding current educational deficits, yet revealed few examples of the implementation of training initiatives for practising healthcare professionals.

Design:

A descriptive qualitative approach was used.

Methods:

Data were generated using two focus groups comprised of Staff Nurses (four) and Healthcare Assistants (three) working in a mixed gender acute elderly care unit in the North of England. Dialogues explored individuals’ experiences of delivering care to people with dementia hospitalised with physical illnesses and, usefully, their thoughts about learning in the workplace.

Results:

Four broad categories emerged from transcript-based analysis: learning about dementia; learning about the person; learning from each other; learning from specialists. Specific recommendations included the improvement of staff preparedness through fundamental training, improved flow of information about individuals, dementia-specialist input for situationbased advice, and structured opportunities to reflect on practice.

Conclusion:

The National Dementia Strategy for England emphasises the pressing need to improve care for people with dementia when they are admitted to hospital with physical illness, and highlights the importance of staff education in contributing to improved care. This study provides an insider view from a potential target population of such healthcare providers regarding their perceived educational needs.

Relevance to clinical practice:

The results of this study point the way forward to practical and achievable ways of increasing and improving knowledge about dementia, and enhancing skills in caring for people who are cognitively impaired, among general hospital staff.

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