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Dementia training for hospitals

On March 1, 2016, it was announced that ten ‘healthy new towns’ were going to be created across the country. The NHS will help shape the way these new sites develop, so as to test creative solutions for the health and care challenges of the 21st century, including obesity, dementia and community cohesion.

Simon Stevens, the CEO of NHS England said: “As these new neighbourhoods and towns are built, we’ll kick ourselves if, in 10 years’ time, we look back having missed the opportunity to ‘design out’ the obesogenic environment, and ‘design in’ health and wellbeing,”

Jim O’Dwyer, Senior Consultant at AEGIS, pictured, called it a commendable initiative. “However, it occurs to me that the same foresight and effort should be being applied right now to the urgent need to provide ‘dementia friendly’ hospital environments – and to design out the kinds of environmental features that are known to increase confusion agitation and distress for patients with dementia, which inevitably result in challenging behaviour and assaults on care staff and healthcare security officers. The kinds of things that drain NHS resources, protract the length of time patients with dementia stay in hospital, contribute to poor treatment outcomes, and, in turn, increase the probability of early re-admission and ultimately increased mortality rates.”

Figures published by NHS Protect confirm that about 80pc of assaults on NHS staff are perpetrated by people who, for medical reasons, cannot be held accountable for their actions in a court of law and so cannot be prosecuted. The vast majority of such attacks involve people who are elderly, confused, distressed and who have dementia. With about one in every four hospital beds in the UK currently being occupied by someone who is over 65, with dementia, the business case for making the changes is self-evident, it’s claimed.

AEGIS Protective Services specialises in training NHS staff (including healthcare security officers) to manage and minimise conflict and aggression from service users. AEGIS has developed two dementia training courses specifically for acute hospital staff. The new training is available now as e-learning, allowing learners to be able to learn at a time, place and pace that suits them.

Jim said: “A number of elements can contribute to a ‘dementia friendly’ hospital environment and these are detailed in the training programme. However, the most welcoming feature will always be the presence of calm, friendly, approachable, well-trained, well-motivated staff. This new dementia training will inform and support NHS staff to better understand the needs of patients with dementia (and their carers and relatives), improve communication and facilitate a higher standard of care. Provision of the training will enable NHS Trusts to meet Objective 13 of the ‘National Dementia Strategy – An informed and effective workforce for people with dementia’.”

“The fact that the training has been designed specifically for acute hospital staff makes it significantly different to other dementia training resources. To my knowledge, there is nothing else out there like it. I’m sure the training content will also be of interest to people who have dementia and their carers, as it provides a unique insight into what NHS Trusts could/should be doing to ease and minimise patients’ distress during hospitalisation.”


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