For all who work with people with dementia

What works in dementia training and education?

A major study into ‘what works’ when it comes to dementia training and education for the health and care workforce has produced two key resources that are now available on open access.

The What Works in Dementia Training and Education? study, by researchers at Leeds Beckett University in the UK, looked at the ingredients for effective dementia training and education, identifying the programs and approaches that lead to the best outcomes for people with dementia and their families.

The two key resources produced from the study – the Dementia Training Design and Delivery Audit Tool (DeTDAT) and accompanying Manual – can be used by care and training providers, those commissioning training and others involved in training design, delivery or purchasing to assess how well a training package meets the good practice criteria identified in the study or to inform the development of new training programs. Both resources are freely available to download on the study website, at https://bit.ly/2vAW3YY

The items in the DeTDAT audit tool reflect best practice guidance about the conditions most likely to lead to effective dementia education and training for the health and social care workforce.

Here we’ve summarised some key points for practice, based on the items in the audit tool:

  1. Dementia training programs should be at least 3.5 hours in total, with programs of 8-12 hours in total more likely to lead to positive outcomes for people with dementia and staff. These can be delivered in half, one or multiple day sessions or shorter sessions over several weeks.
  2. Individual training sessions should be at least 2 hours for greatest impact. Anything less is unlikely to change learner attitudes towards dementia, particularly among staff with lower qualifications. Half-day or longer sessions are more likely to significantly change learner attitudes.
  3. Target content specifically to the service setting and role of the staff attending. Staff are unlikely to implement training if they feel it’s not relevant to their role or day-to-day practice.
  4. Training should be interactive (eg discussion, group work, practical activities, experiential exercises, simulation, viewing videos, talks by carers and people with dementia, multimedia on-line content etc). Short periods where the trainer talks at/to the group, interspersed with interactive learning activities works best for learner satisfaction.
  5. Learning via a written resource alone (paper or web-based) is ineffective in improving staff knowledge.
  6. Group discussion should be a core component of training. This allows people to work through complex ideas, ask questions and discuss potential barriers to taking on board the information.
  7. Use realistic scenarios or vignettes to present elements of dementia care and to discuss key issues. Talks or discussions by or including people with dementia and family carers is particularly impactful for learners.
  8. Include opportunities to apply learning in practice.
  9. Give learners the opportunity to bring examples and challenges from their own practice to discuss during the training program.
  10. Teaching the use of structured tools, methods or approaches (eg pain assessment tools, behaviour recording tools, care planning documents etc) is more likely to lead to staff behaviour change.
  11. Small or large group face-to-face learning (alone or with another learning approach) is likely to be most effective.
  12. Don’t use online/web-based learning as the sole learning method. Supplement it with a significant amount of workshop or group-based activities to achieve full engagement.
  13. On-line learning materials should be interactive (eg video clips, quizzes, exercises and activities).