Improving Dementia Care Training for Hospice Staff in Yorkshire and the Humber
In October we hosted a community of practice day here at St Gemma’s Hospice Academic Unit of Palliative Care (AUPC). Jane Chatterjee, St Gemma’s Hospice Lecturer in Palliative Care, explains what the day was all about and how it will help to improve the delivery of dementia care training across our region:
The Peer Facilitator Dementia Trainers Community of Practice Day was designed for staff from eleven hospices in the Yorkshire and Humber region, all of whom had attended training to become facilitators for the delivery of a programme of dementia care training for Hospice staff. This ‘train the trainer’ programme was developed and delivered through a collaboration between the St Gemma’s Hospice AUPC and the University of Bradford Centre for Applied Dementia Studies.
The day was attended by facilitators from seven of the eleven hospices ( St Gemma’s Hospice included) along with colleagues from the University of Bradford. The guest speakers were Murna Downs, Professor of Dementia Studies at University of Bradford and Wendy Mitchell, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador. Wendy was diagnosed with early onset dementia four years ago and dedicates her time to raising awareness.
The day had a positive outlook, bringing lots of discussion and peer support. Feedback from individual hospices identified that the training was well-received by their staff; foundation training brought rich discussions when there was a mix of staff and volunteers with both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds who could draw on both their professional and personal experiences. This highlighted that supporting people living with dementia (who may be patients, family members or members of the public) through our hospice services was everybody’s business – from medical and nursing teams to hospitality and housekeeping staff, gardeners and receptionists.
Professor Murna Downs gave an opening speech asking the question ‘what does end of life care for people with dementia mean?’ highlighting the need to recognise the complexities both medical and psychosocial for people living with advanced dementia. It is necessary to look at the whole person and understand how to apply the person-centred philosophy integral to palliative care to those who have difficulty in expressing their needs.
Wendy gave a talk sharing her experience of living with dementia. The Dementia Pathway talks about ‘living well’ and ‘dying well’; Wendy suggests that a more appropriate term might be ‘as well as you can’ to highlight the difficulties faced as well as supporting people to strive for the best.
Professor Murna Downs summed up the day reporting how she was encouraged that hospices were thinking in terms of their support for people living with dementia. She applauded the achievements of those attending in taking the training to their staff and in turn influencing practice within their individual hospices.
The main highlight of the day from the point of view of the attendees was hearing from Wendy. Listening to Wendy speak of her experience has taught me more than anything else. This brought home the value of involving ‘experts by experience’ in training programmes and developments to services.
Wendy Mitchell writes a blog ‘Which me am I today’ and you can read her blog about her day at St Gemma’s Hospice by visiting https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/a-day-at-st-gemmas-hospice-leeds/