A significant milestone has been reached at the region’s ambulance service to help staff better support patients and their families affected by dementia.
By the end of 2018, a total 999 staff at East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) had been trained towards the target of being recognised as Dementia Friends.
This is the first milestone in a three-year plan to ensure that all 5,000+ staff are trained in recognising and accommodating patients and other members of the public with dementia.
EEAST will be formally accredited as a Dementia Friend by the Alzheimer’s Society once all staff are trained and plans for on-going training are in place.
More than 850,000 people in the in UK currently live with dementia, with that figure expected to raise as the population ages.
Duncan Moore, EEAST’s Clinical Lead for the project, said: “We encounter people with dementia in a number of ways. We often see them as patients, but they can also be people calling us on behalf of someone else, or they could be the relative or partner of a patient we are treating.
“Frequently we deal with people as a result of accidents and sudden illness – circumstances that anyone might find upsetting and confusing, so It’s important that all our staff are aware of dementia, the many ways it affects people, and that they know how to communicate with patients with empathy and compassion so as to reduce their anxiety.”
The training has been developed collaboratively for EEAST by the University of Hertfordshire.
Jan Leeks, a senior lecturer in mental health with a wide range of experience in mental health nursing and dementia care said: “This training has been specially developed for staff dealing with people with dementia in emergency situations.
“We’ve taken an evidence and research-based approach based on the person-centred care method pioneered by Tom Kitwood.
“Rather than learning theory, this requires candidates to use examples and experiences from their own life to reflect on their actions and the affect they might have on others.”
The EEAST three-year plan is in line with the NHS’ commitment to improving public awareness and professional understanding of dementia as outlined in the NHS 10-year-plan.
View the EEAST Dementia strategy.