Acting now to improve dementia care

By Jill Whittaker, managing director of Connect2Care, discusses how investing in apprentices can help improve dementia care

More than 500,000 people in the UK are currently thought to be living with dementia and this figure is rising year-on-year[1]. In fact, the number of people living with the illness is predicted to increase by an astounding 281% in 2050, compared to 2015 figures[2]. Despite the growing number of cases, it’s estimated that one in three care workers have received no formal dementia training[3].

Working in a dementia setting requires very specialised skills as every patients’ journey is unique and those suffering can experience a variety of symptoms. This poses a challenge to care providers who need to develop a tailored approach to treatment. For example, physical symptoms and behaviours experienced can range from aggression, agitation and confusion to visual hallucinations, insomnia and even language and mobility difficulties. This means that staff need to be trained to identify the multitude of signs of the disease to learn how to manage them in the safest way possible.

To help prepare care staff appropriately, there are a number of apprenticeships and short courses available to suit different job roles. More experienced staff looking to enhance and grow their skills can undertake the Health and Social Care Advanced qualification or the Leader in Adult Care Apprenticeship. These apprenticeships ensure team members come away with a more comprehensive understanding of their role in providing leadership, guidance and direction at the frontline of care delivery whilst supporting others to comply with expected standards and behaviours.

Alternatively, half and one-day workshops like Dementia Awareness are perfect for employees at all levels who are looking to refresh their knowledge, as they provide aActing now to improve dementia caren overview of the tell-tale signs of dementia and how best to treat patients. Offering short and informative sessions such as this, will ultimately help to support staff as their careers progress and guarantee they have the knowledge and expertise to take a more person-centred approach to care, communicate effectively and build lasting relationships.

Apprenticeships are also a great way of establishing personal development opportunities for a workforce which learns best through doing and this is where the benefit of investing in training schemes can really come into its own[4]. This is largely because they appeal to those looking to grow their career and provide employees with an end goal to work towards. In fact, 92% of employers noticed an improvement in staff motivation after taking on an apprentice[5] and a further 80% of employers noticed an increase in retention. Retaining and recruiting these highly-skilled team members is particularly important as they are vital to ensuring patients receive the best levels of care possible.

Despite scientific progress over the last 25 years, addressing dementia remains a national and international challenge, with new causes and treatments being discovered every year. If the industry doesn’t act now and ensure high-quality, certified development programmes are in place, the situation could become untenable as the demand for more specialised treatment grows. Implementing training and apprenticeship courses which keep staff engaged, motivated and up-to-date on the latest practices will help drive the sector forward and confirm a prosperous future for the healthcare industry.

For more information on Connect2Care, please visit:

[1] Alzheimer’s research UK 2016

[2] Alzheimer’s research UK 2016

[3] Alzheimer’s research UK 2016

[4] Adobe – ‘Gen Z in the Classroom: Creating the Future’

[5] People 1st 2016