UK nursing homes are improving dementia care by asking those who have lived with the illness.

Personal experiences are often ignored by the social care system, but professionals can learn a lot from patients and their families.

Although Dementia care training is usually ran by people from an academic and scientific background, something that shouldn’t be overlooked, is the ability to learn from those that have experienced caring for a person with dementia first hand.

An academic and scientific background can tell you statistics and inform you on the latest research. Whereas those who have experienced it can tell you what it’s like.. for both the individual and family.

Stanfield Nursing Home found this article from the Guardian interesting as it shares a real life journey, caring for a father with dementia for 19 years. It can not be doubted that someone with that many years experience would be an expert, which can then help others to understand all of the aspects.

‘I’m not an academic. University wasn’t an option for me; my dad needed me and there was nowhere else I was going to be other than by his side. He lived with vascular dementia for 19 years, going 10 years without a diagnosis and then spending nine years in three different care homes. Dad’s dementia began when I was just 12 years old, and went on to dominate my teens and twenties. He passed away in 2012 aged 85.

Dad, and all the other people I’ve met who have been living with dementia, are my dementia education, and you could argue that 19 years is somewhat longer than your average degree course.

I consider being an expert by experience a huge privilege and now work as a freelance consultant, giving presentations and lectures on different aspects of dementia care. Many argue that you can’t teach people what it’s like to live with dementia, but I beg to differ. When I address audiences, I talk from the heart. I’m open and honest about what I’ve experienced with my dad and other people who are living with dementia. We need to humanise dementia in order to remove its stigma and improve care.

People who are living with dementia, their carers, families and friends are the great undiscovered knowledge bank in dementia care. Too often we belittle, dismiss or ignore personal experience, rather than encourage the sharing of it. Moreover, we often exclude family carers from opportunities for personal growth by not sharing professional knowledge of dementia, and not offering them training in areas of care provision that they are finding challenging.’

Listen to an interview with Richard White, Stanfield Nursing Home’s owner, about music therapy and dementia.

If you are considering UK nursing homes, talk to us at our care home Worcester. We  hope that you’ve found this article informative, you might also like to read our previous blog on nursing care worcester.

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