The Wellbeing and Health for people with Dementia (WHELD) programme trained care home staff to increase social interaction from two minutes a day to ten, combined with a programme of personalised care. It involves simple measures such as talking to residents about their interests and involving them in decisions around their care.
Care home staff took part in an e-learning programme with key modules based on the WHELD training, with or without Skype supervision. When compared to usual care, training with or without Skype supervision improved resident wellbeing and staff attitudes to person-centred care. The Skype supported group continued to deliver improved resident wellbeing four months after the trial was completed.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, says: “With 70% of people living in care homes having dementia, it is vital that staff have the right training to provide good quality dementia care.
“It’s unacceptable that people in care homes only get ten minutes of social interaction each day. What we need is a person-centred approach to care, that takes into account each individual’s unique qualities, abilities, interests, preferences and needs. This study supports what we know from our own research – training is crucial in order to provide this type of individualised care, activities and social interactions, which can have a significant impact of the well-being of people living with dementia in care homes.
“Alzheimer’s Society is committed to improving dementia care through research, including getting appropriate training put into practice. But without a Government increase in investment for social care, which we have been calling for for some years, there just won’t be enough money to make change for people with dementia.”