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HEKSS begins roll-out of ground-breaking dementia education initiative

20 March 2015

A ground-breaking education initiative to help medical, nursing and paramedic students understand what life is like with dementia has begun being rolled out across the region.

Students will visit families living with dementia two or three times each year throughout their course. By spending time with patients and carers in their family home over a number of years, students will have a unique opportunity to understand what it is like to live with dementia. They will gain an in depth understanding of long term conditions, the role of family carers in supporting their loved ones and their interactions with the wider health and social care system.

The Time for Dementia initiative was launched to 150 nursing students at the University of Surrey on 25 March. The visits will start in June and form part of the student’s clinical placement. It will also be rolled out to paramedic students at the university and medical students and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Time for Dementia is a collaboration between HEKSS, the Alzheimer’s Society, University of Surrey and The Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It has been funded by HEKSS as part of its Skills Development Strategy in Dementia and is led by Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia and Associate Dean.

The programme uses the longitudinal clerkship model, which enhances undergraduate learning by providing on-going contact with an individual with a long term condition. Students will visit in pairs for two to four hours at a time and will use a structured template for the visit, undertaking activities such as life history work.

Student learning from the visits will be supplemented by pre-visit information and preparation including student visit guides as well as plenary sessions, additional educational sessions and a wider conference for all those involved in the programme.

A comprehensive evaluation of the programme will generate information and an implementation guide on outcomes and costs to support the implementation of the model more widely.

Speaking at the launch, Philippa Spicer, HEKSS Director, said:

I am pleased that HEKSS is able to support this programme, building an evidence base of what works and developing the skills of the future workforce during their undergraduate training to ensure that they are able to offer compassionate and person-centred care to people with dementia.

Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia and HEKSS Associate Dean said:

We believe Time for Dementia could support a profound change in professional attitudes to dementia, transforming care for patients and their families.