All-party dementia group demand mandatory staff training

All care staff who work with older people should receive mandatory training in dementia care, a group of MPs and peers said today.

The all-party parliamentary group on dementia said the failure to develop skills was undermining standards in residential and domiciliary care across England, leading to “unacceptable” practice in some cases.

Lack of incentives for development

Providers were unwilling to invest in training due to high staff turnover, the group found, while the lack of career pathways resulted in few incentives for staff to complete qualifications.

In a report, Prepared to Care: Challenging the Dementia Skills Gap, the APPG calls on organisations to explore how to make training mandatory, whilst ensuring it does not become “a tick-box exercise”.

This should be underpinned by tougher regulation of dementia care training, the report said, and a standardised career path for workers linked to the new qualification and credit framework.

APPG: strategy timetable needed

The government’s national dementia strategy, published in February, said the need for workforce development was a “priority that runs across all the themes” of the plan.

The APPG recommended that the Department of Health issue a clear timetable for the development of “core competencies” in dementia care, as promised by the three-year strategy.

Training provision “ad hoc”

After hearing evidence from experts across the sector, the group concluded overall levels of training among social care staff were low, while the provision of programmes was “ad hoc” and of variable quality.

The group expressed concern at the number of providers relying on half-day training courses, which were “wholly insufficient to enable staff to develop their practice”.

Budgetary constraints

The lack of priority given to dementia care training stemmed from a “misguided belief that specialist training is not required”.

“The result of this is a vulnerable group in society experiencing nothing like the standard of care they deserve,” the report said.

This was compounded by budgetary constraints within local authorities, and a failure to pass on available funding to independent providers.

Hope: strategy is clear

Responding to the report, care services minister Phil Hope said the national dementia strategy contained clear objectives to improve the quality of dementia care and ensure staff “have the best possible skills” to deliver this vision.

“Improving training is essential, so we are working with training providers to raise the standard of both basic skills and the process of continuous professional and vocational development.”

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