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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
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£200,000 research grant awarded to nurse for dementia training in nursing homes

A nurse from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded a £200,000 research grant to enable the development of training that will help deliver dignity for people with dementia who are living in care homes.

Analisa Smythe, Dementia Project Lead based at the National Centre for Mental Health in Birmingham, and her co-applicant Catharine Jenkins, Senior Nurse Lecturer at Birmingham City University, identified that although training about dementia exists for unqualified staff and healthcare assistants, there was a real need for training aimed at qualified nurses working in care homes.

Around 820,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, and about one third of these live in care homes. Unlike their counterparts in primary and secondary care, nurses in care homes often receive inadequate training and few opportunities for career growth.  The training that does exist focuses mainly on dementia awareness which does not go far enough in improving the experience of people with dementia.

Focus groups revealed that alongside traditional knowledge based training delivered in the lecture room, nurses also want practical, hands on training delivered by credible trainers, that models good practice as well as a collaborative approach that exploits the knowledge of staff who are already experienced in this area.

The grant from the Burdett Trust for Nursing will enable the evaluation of a combination of two types of training, one delivered in the workplace and one university based. Should this prove beneficial the training can be delivered to a large number of nurses in care homes, providing sustained improvements in dignified care for people living with dementia, improved leadership skills, reduction in burn-out and increased confidence in the care of people living with dementia.

Analisa said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this research grant, particularly as it is unusual for such a grant to be based in nursing. By 2021 the Alzheimer’s Society predict that there will be more than one million people with dementia in the UK, many living in care homes. The Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia has put the spotlight firmly on improving the experience of people with dementia and we hope that this new training for nurses will improve the care and dignity for people living with dementia in care homes.”