Dementia training through the art of storytelling

It is very clear that we have a massive recruitment problem within social care, healthcare and the NHS, so much so, that we are having to turn to further shores to staff our care homes and hospitals and to care with people in their own homes. The potential for developing relationships steeped in the richness of other peoples’ language and culture is great and is not necessarily a negative issue, but requires open minds, open hearts and leadership skills steeped in grace. click here – Leading with Grace

Recruitment and retention

The importance here in recruiting and retaining excellent staff is to find what unites us and connects us with these new staff. Language barriers may be a key issue, we need to show kindness and compassion to those who will move countries to work here with us in the UK. Imagine how we might feel if we went to work in a different country and had to learn the language quickly, let alone understand all of our different dialects and accents. Training these staff to get up to speed in caring with people living with dementia is vital and we know that in some countries, dementia isn’t recognised as a condition, so there is much to learn.

How we communicate through non- verbal ways

However, since much of our effective communication with people living with dementia is through non- verbal means, intuition and a sense of something much deeper, speaking a different language may not always be so much of a barrier.

What connects us? Family, Loved ones, sharing meals, exploring photographs, meaningful objects and of course storytelling whether through speech and/or mime.

So instead of expecting our staff to write about caring and professionalism, when they are being educated, what about helping them learn more through the stories of people who live with dementia, their caregivers and other staff. We can learn so much through stories and films and listening to podcasts.

 Can we learn to be empathetic?

A friend recently asked me if I thought books and films could help teach empathy. What do you think? I know that some people are natural caregivers and empathetic but I am certain that we can help people develop empathy……..Just think about your favourite characters in films, theatre plays, TV series, books and think about their experiences, emotions and behaviours and go on to think about what it has taught you, there are now so many wonderful creative initiatives that use creativity to help us connect with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

So why not turn to training your staff through the art of stories- that’s what Finding the Light in dementia does, while also steeped in best practice and research…… and at the same time provides caring and compassionate self -help resources for all staff. From exploring the role that meaningful objects play in initiating conversation and stimulating memory about people, places and experiences to watching our animations that examine how our brains work and how dementia affects a person, there are multiple creative ways to learn about dementia that don’t focus solely on the spoken word.

Never stop being curious and enjoy learning

I learn all the time from other people’s stories, despite working in memory clinics, care homes and hospitals for the past 30 years, I have learnt so much about the experience of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias when interviewing people for our and realise that giving people a platform to share their experiences is the best way to learn about their needs and to learn how to care with them.

Senior lady and caregiver talking together