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Enhanced dementia practice for social workers

Welcome to the enhanced dementia practice resource for social workers and other professionals

Guidance for trainers

Download the guidance for more information, including an overview of the resource contents and some helpful facilitation tips.

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Within the first year of your practice with adults, you will increasingly work with people with dementia, their families and carers in a range of settings and with a range of partners across health, social services, integrated services, independent sector, third sector, housing and communities. People with dementia need practitioners who understand how dementia affects them, who will promote their rights and quality of life, who embrace high standards of care and support and who can protect them when that is necessary.

Scottish Government legislation, policies and strategies indicate that your practice will increasingly support people with dementia in their own homes or in homely settings. Policy expects that you will continue to focus on holistic, personalised interaction focused around the outcomes people want and the supports they choose for themselves. The key words embedded in current legislation, policies and strategies include integration of health and social care, dementia, self-directed support, carers, partnership and outcomes, both personal and national. We will reflect the ethos and philosophy of current policy and practice in this resource in order to drive improved experiences for people with dementia and carers during their journey through dementia.

Scottish Government charged the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and NHS Education Scotland (NES) with responsibility for the development and implementation of Promoting Excellence: a framework for all health and social services staff working with people with dementia, their families and carers. The framework was launched in June 2011 alongside the Standards of Care for Dementia in Scotland. This resource is one of a suite of educational and learning resources emerging from Promoting Excellence. It links to and incorporates elements of other SSSC/NES resources which support dementia education and learning across the social services and health workforces.

To bring the perspective of people with dementia and their carers to this resource we have included throughout the resource the personal testimonies of members of Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) and National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN). They represent people living with dementia every day in Scotland. Some have a diagnosis of dementia and others are carers, people who enhance the quality of life of people with dementia.

They are:

People living with dementia:

Henry lives at home and has retired from a long career in the police service. He began having memory problems eight years ago and was diagnosed with dementia five years later. He is supported by his wife and family and enjoys a full life within his community, maintaining many of his long term interests.
Agnes comes from a nursing background and was working when she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 57. She is married and is supported by her daughter and her friends. She describes her experience of joining the Scottish Dementia Working Group as her first step towards positivity in her dementia journey.
Peter sustained a serious head injury 30 years ago after which he rebuilt his life. Sometime later, he started to forget things at work and was diagnosed with dementia. He is married and enjoys a large extended family support network.
James is the founder of the Scottish Dementia Working Group. He worked in mental health hospitals for three years as a hospital auditor where he met many people in the later stages of dementia. Now in his 70's, he was diagnosed with dementia over 10 years ago when his children were still of school age. He lives with his wife.
Archie was employed as a driver for a number of years and his passion for cars remains strong. He was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago. Once married, he now lives alone and has support from his extended family. His main support comes from attending regular meetings hosted by a voluntary organisation.

Carers of people with dementia:

Lorna cares for her mother. She did this for a long period of time at home, and now supports her mother to live in a care home. Lorna is an active member of the National Dementia Carers Action Network.
Eileen cares for her father. She is currently supporting him to live in his own home and believes passionately that being in his own environment helps him to have the best quality of life possible.
Jeanette cared for her husband Ken throughout his dementia journey until his death. She is determined to continue campaigning to ensure the rights of people with dementia and their carers are promoted by professionals.
Caroline has a professional background in social care. Both Caroline's parents were diagnosed with dementia and she supported them both to live together in a care home. Her father died and she continues to support her mother, whom she sees daily.
Amanda cared for her grandmother until her death. She is passionate about the importance of professionals involving the extended family in care planning. Amanda also has experience as a paid carer.
Diane's mother was diagnosed with dementia in her early 50's. Both her parents live together in sheltered housing and she supports them both through their dementia journey.

We are very grateful to all of the above for sharing their experiences with us and helping you to understand how, as practitioners, you too can have a huge impact on their quality of life as they go through their different dementia journeys.

Video: People living with dementia

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Closed Caption subtitles can be switched on by clicking on the 'cc' button. A transcript of this video is also available.

Video: Carers of people living with dementia

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Closed Caption subtitles can be switched on by clicking on the 'cc' button. A transcript of this video is also available.

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Video transcript: People living with dementia

How valuable is support from others in maintaining your independence?

Peter - Often I'm in the shower and I'll wash myself all over and I'll do it again, and then I'll do it again, and then I'll do it again. So if somebody is in the house they say "are you going to come out of that shower before you dissolve" and that's what I have to do. Also going shopping; it's better if somebody is with me because I don't accumulate things like, having ten packets of cheese and no bread and that kind of thing. So, everything goes pretty well actually as long as that input is there from other people.

Video transcript: Carers of people living with dementia

What key messages do you have for professionals working with people with dementia and their families and carers?

Amanda - I think they need the training about dementia and how it's different for everybody. It sounds like a cliche to say it, but dementia affects everybody completely differently. I mean, some of the symptoms might be the same and some of the ways in which people's behaviour might present might be similar, but every single person will deal with that differently, will take on different parts of it, will deteriorate at different rates and all their family members will deal with it differently. Some families have got a huge amount of members in them, some people are on their own, some people have got no family at all. So it's important to understand how different it is for everybody and how the support they need has to be individual to that person. I think it's just about taking the time to try and see it from their point of view, because one size doesn't fit all.

We have also used short pieces of drama to provide examples of contact between practitioners and people with dementia and carers. These examples are designed to be indicative of practice situations as opposed to demonstrators of excellence in practice. They are tools to allow you to consider a set of related questions which can be addressed individually, in groups or in facilitated learning sessions. These vignettes and associated activities will support you to:

You will notice that we have highlighted and their carer. The filmed vignettes support us to recognise the important role carers, and families, have in the lives of people with dementia not only as providers of care and support but also as friends, companions, advocates, and sources of shared experience and identity.

There are six sections in this resource, they are:

Each section contains a mixture of personal stories, filmed drama, quotations, key facts, resource material and activities. The key resources are regarded as minimum reading to develop enhanced level practice. We hope that you, as independent learners, will seek other sources from the vast range on offer.

"If you get it right for people with dementia, you get it right for everyone."


NB You are expected to have completed or mapped your existing learning to the Dementia skilled: improving practice learning resource.
Find this and other key resources here.

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This was printed from a website hosted by the Workforce Development and Planning Department at the Scottish Social Services Council.

Scottish Social Services Council
Compass House
11 Riverside Drive

Telephone: 0345 60 30 891

If you would like to request this document in another format or language, please contact the SSSC on 0345 60 30 891.

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