Professor Kate Irving, Dublin City University, talks about the everyday impact of the multi-level training within the Dementia Skills Elevator Programme.
The Elevator Programme aims to build a more educated workforce in relation to dementia, incorporating dementia leaders and dementia champions, spread across a wide range of health, social care and community settings, with primary care seen as a priority. The reason it is called Elevator is because it allows people to build awareness and expertise as part of a continuum of training and skills development in dementia.The programme started initially with immersed research in three different communities. This provided the researchers with a “map” of the reality of life with dementia from which they could then develop a very practical, stepped training programme.
The Elevator awareness training is provided on three levels –
- General dementia awareness training
- Essential skills for key public-facing workers
- Dementia awareness training for health care workers in the public and private sector.
Elevator also delivers psychosocial skills training for family carers and health and social care professionals, including validation and related skills, cognitive remediation and multisensory stimulation therapy. Training on ethical care decision-making is a key part of the programme.
In addition, Elevator is working with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to deliver dedicated training for GPs, practice nurses, community pharmacists and health and social care professionals.
On the Ground
There are now over 500 Dementia Champions around the country – this is not nearly enough, but it is a huge and significant advancement on where things started. Local advocates deliver leadership, training and support to people working in banks, shops and transport facilities – places where people with dementia live and move – so that they can fully understand and support the person with dementia.
The Impact on People. Sheila Returns to Bridge.After diagnosis with dementia, Sheila found that her life as she knew it began to ebb away from her. She was extremely lonely. The Dementia Champion in her area set up a friendship circle with her old friends – many of whom had stayed away from Sheila simply because they didn’t know how to deal with their friend’s diagnosis. After some coaxing, Sheila returned to her Bridge Club with her friends. It was a skill that she and her friends had thought she might have forgotten. However, she had retained her ability to play the card game, opening up a new world of company, interest and comfort.