800,000 people in the UK have dementia, so social care professionals with expertise in the condition are in high demand.
Iffat Mazoor has just become the first graduate of a pioneering course to meet this need for training. Developed for Bupa Care by the University of Bradford, Mazoor gained a degree in dementia studies after two years of part-time distance learning, which she undertook while continuing to work as a senior care assistant at Seabrooke Manor care home in Ilford.
It was a tough road for Mazoor, for whom English is a second language, but she says becoming the programme’s first graduate has been an honour.
“The learning style of the course was new to me, as I’ve never studied from a distance before.
“To study dementia in conjunction with my practical work broadened my vision and gave me insight into how dementia slowly and progressively affects people’s lives, but also how I could improve that quality of life for them.”
She feels the course has already transformed her practice, particularly by giving her a focus on person-centred care, and through the course’s encouragement of providing strong support for family and friends.
“As I have been working with the residents at Seabrooke Manor throughout my studies, I’ve been able to make changes and improvements in real time,” Mazoor says.
“I’ve learnt how I can look after a person with dementia whilst treating them as an individual first and foremost.”
Mazoor has now taken charge of looking after residents in the home’s residential dementia unit.
She was one of just 11 successful applicants to be accepted onto the programme in September 2012, chosen for her compassionate work with people with dementia for the previous six years.
“It’s not enough just for me to be able to better care for people living with dementia. I want to share what I’ve learnt with everyone I work with,” she says.
“The course gave me more knowledge, but also the confidence to put the theory into real practice as a team leader.”
“It’s been great to be able to learn something new that helps with my day-to-day responsibilities and also makes a big difference to residents.”
Managing director of Bupa Care Homes, Andrew Cannon, says: “From the day she joined us, Iffat has shown great dedication to our residents.
“Committed, trained people are the key to providing excellent and stimulating dementia care for our residents. Iffat has a new challenge now – to share her expertise with her colleagues and champion great dementia care.”