training session in care home

A project involving a local college which quickly and easily enhances the skills of frontline social care workers, has proved so successful that leading care provider, Balhousie Care Group, has incorporated it into its staff induction training programme.

The Care Skills Escalator (CASE), is a free online App, funded by the European Commission Erasmus+ programme in 2019 and develops the skills and competencies of those working in health and social care, especially those who work with people living with dementia.

Balhousie Care Group, an employer partner of Dundee and Angus College and Scotland’s top independent provider of elderly care, piloted the resource for several months.

It showed such potential that Balhousie Care committed to, and has now incorporated the free course into its induction for all new staff.

Led by Regional Learning and Development Facilitator, Kyle Manns, ahead of Dementia Awareness Week, all new frontline staff at Balhousie Care Group complete the Dementia Care course as part of their comprehensive training when they start work.

Kyle said: “The Care Skills Escalator will be used in induction training to educate and develop our staff about all aspects of dementia. I will also be making the course a mandatory requirement for our eLearning.

“It helps our staff understand how to engage with residents who live with dementia by making a connection, finding out about their life story and using tools such as reminiscence, music, memory boxes and furnishing from the person’s lifetime, to create conversations.

“We can also use it to discuss how to assist our residents who experience stress and distress, linking it directly into our Person-Centred Care training.

“The ‘Barbara’s Story’ section of the course has already had a huge impact on our staff. They have found it informative, fascinating and, most importantly, feel it has not only given them greater understanding of dementia in its different forms, but reassuring to have this information at their fingertips whenever they need it.

“Staff are more able to identify stress and distress, understand residents’ behaviour and the reasons for it. Balhousie Care teams have responded overwhelmingly positively to the training, finding the session very informative, engaging and relatable, but most of all providing a greater understanding of dementia in its different forms. It covers aspects of dementia which may not have been considered previously, and is highly interactive. It is also designed to promote discussion around the condition.

“Barbara’s Story, in particular, connected the students to the effects of living with dementia, as they were able to witness a view of the world from Barbara’s perspective. At the end of the session one student said, ‘Wow, that was so powerful. I’m still trying to stop my tears’.

“The session left the students craving more information and wanting to soak up more of the Care Skills Escalator.

“Personally, the more I engage with the Care Skills Escalator, the more ways I’m finding to use it within my lessons. Even for me as the trainer, as one of my students said today, ‘I get it now’.”

CASE will be used in all induction training to educate and develop staff in all aspects of dementia, and they can also access it at any time if they want to refresh their knowledge.

The units are presented in an accessible format with smaller topics contained within each one. Each section has a quiz to give the teams confidence they have understood the course.

Jane Roscoe, Director of Curriculum and Attainment for Dundee and Angus College said, “The strength of the CASE project was the exchange of knowledge and expertise between partners and stakeholders from across all five EU countries. Balhousie Care Group was a key contributor to our work at Dundee and Angus College and we valued their feedback and insight throughout the project. For the individual care worker or anyone who would like to learn more about Dementia, the biggest innovation is that there is now an accessible platform and comprehensive programme for everyone and it is free to use.

“Dundee and Angus College are proud to have been part of this Erasmus+ project and are delighted that Balhousie Care Group will use the CASE App in their induction to nurture care values, person-centred practice and develop new skills when supporting those living with dementia.”

The number of people with dementia in the UK is forecast to increase to over 2 million by 2051.

The App development involved five partner organisations from across Europe – including Dundee and Angus College, and will enhance the existing skillset of staff through a strong emphasis on workplace learning and mentoring, as well as developing a range of flexible online and blended learning resources.