The House of Memories dementia project with NML, sponsored by the Department of Health, is the first of its kind in the country. Open to health and social care staff across Merseyside and North Cheshire, it offers them support to care for people living with dementia, including the use of NML collections and resources. We helped develop carers’ understanding of dementia, concentrating on how to improve the quality of life of people for people living with with dementia.

Background

There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK currently and this is expected to rise to over a million people by 2021 (Statistics 2012). 82,661 people were diagnosed in the North West alone in 2010.

  • the financial cost of dementia to the UK is over £23 billion
  • only 40% of people with dementia receive a diagnosis.

The aims

House of Memories sessions were open to health and social care staff across Merseyside and North Cheshire, offering them support to care for people living with dementia, including the use of NML collections and resources, which would contribute to their wellbeing and quality of life, and may reduce the need for antipsychotic medication. AFTA Thought’s role was to develop carers’ understanding of dementia, and how to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia, including:

  • increasing awareness of and understanding of dementia (person-centred approach to care)
  • the idea of ‘being in their world, not mine’.
  • that dementia is different for every person who experiences it
  • increased knowledge about different stages and types of dementia
  • understanding the family’s perspective, and increased confidence to engage with them
  • relevance to current guidance on caring for people with dementia

What we did

AFTA Thought began running House of Memories training sessions in Spring 2012, and it’s due to run well into 2013 and beyond. Our job was to enable participants to understand what dementia is, how it affects different people in different ways, and how to develop practice to improve the quality of care given to people living with dementia.

The outcomes

So far, the House of Memories programme has been positively received and endorsed by more than 1,200 social carers across the North West. Feedback shows that by the end of one day’s training, participants
believed that their knowledge, skills and access to resources to carry out memory activities at work had increased significantly. Their learning reflected competencies highlighted in the Qualifications and Credit Framework for dementia care (Skills for Care 2010) underpinned by the Common Core Principles for supporting people with dementia (Skills for Care, Skills for Health, DH 2011) and the National Dementia Strategy (DH 2009).

Carol Rogers, NML Executive director (Education, communities and visitors) says: ‘AFTA Thought provided great knowledge and support to the NML team from the outset, complemented by a sensitive and thoughtful approach to the development of our ideas. They demonstrated a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities of our ambition and through this we were able to produce an innovative, relevant and meaningful training programme.’

‘It’s enabled me to come into the world of the person living with dementia, rather than expect them to enter mine. After today my approach will be very different.’

‘I think that care agency managers and carers of people living with dementia need to receive this type of training’

‘I’ve learnt about the different forms dementia takes and am hopefully more adaptable to their needs’

‘I now have the knowledge to make more people aware of what dementia is and how they can help…’

‘AFTA Thought provided great knowledge and support to the NML team from the outset, complemented by a sensitive and thoughtful approach to the development of our ideas. They demonstrated a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities of our ambition and through this we were able to produce an innovative, relevant and meaningful training programme.’
Professor Alistair Burns National Clinical Director for Dementia, Department of Health

Related training

  • Safeguarding
  • Dignity in care