The factory production line processing of staff through tedious workbooks to satisfy regulations and inspectorates – and insurance companies! – needs to be challenged. It still persists, unfortunately, often dressed up in a ‘professional looking’ veneer. Learning ‘programmes’ are often chosen because they fit into an in-house monitoring system where each learner can be tracked and ticked off. But we at Innovations in Dementia have been asking ourselves for sometime now
- Who decides the learning needs?
- Who identifies the learning needs of any group of people working and living with people with dementia?
- Who should set the agenda of what people need to know and understand?
There is a lot of really good information and training resources out there with a sound value base, yet the growth of seeing Dementia as a rights issue has led to a growing unease at the absence of people with dementia being involved in training. There are more courses now introducing an element of the personal testimony people with dementia. They often prove very powerful from feedback we receive. If these moments overshadow the rest of the training then why stop there?
The answer to this question and those above it lies with people with dementia.
If training messages encourage learners to focus on and take the led from people with dementia, then courses themselves should be designed together with people with dementia. Courses should be developed together with people with dementia and courses should be delivered together with people with dementia.
I remember running a small seminar type discussion around relationships. One man with dementia mentioned to the group how he knew everything was always his fault. Immediately another lady with dementia stood up and assertively pointed out ‘No, we MUST be allowed to make mistakes!’ I could have given a similar message which would not have had half of the impact as it did, coming from a lady living a similar experience. What was also most striking in that group was that this lady had recently been admitted to 24 hour long term care. On paper she was the most severely impaired of all present yet she made the most telling contribution of the day
Who decides the learning needs? Who identifies the learning needs of any group of people working and living with people with dementia?
Who should set the agenda of what people need to know and understand? Who should decide whether someone is putting learning into practice?
The rationale for learning and the setting of the agenda for learning must lie with people with dementia themselves.
The problem is identified by people living with dementia – be it lack of accessibility, the use of language, complexity of written materials and signage, way-finding difficulties, treatment and communication, personal detractions or the building on good experiences, a lack of understanding of dementia, prejudice, relationship difficulties. – and it is identified not just via the spoken and written word of those individuals still able to express themselves eloquently, but also through the observed actions, expressions of emotion, and experiences of those less able to do so.
Through focussed work, close observation and interaction, the solution is developed and delivered by and with people living with dementia
People with dementia, regardless of perceived limitations or level of care needs , can and should be involved in the design, development and delivery of training. At Innovations in Dementia that is exactly what we offer.
For more information contact Damian@innovationsindementia.org.uk