As Scotland plans for an ageing population, Kingdom Housing Association has become one of the first social landlords in the country to introduce dementia training courses for staff and the first organisation that operates across Fife to receive the Dementia Friendly Fife Award.
Kingdom worked with Alzheimer’s Scotland and Fife Council to attain Dementia Friendly status and ensure that offices have signage that promotes easy access and navigation and that staff are trained in how to best work with people living with dementia.
The training included a Virtual Dementia Tour, a virtual reality dementia training experience which is said to be the closest experience that can be given of what dementia might be like. By understanding dementia from the person’s point of view, Kingdom can change practices, reduce issues and improve the service for customers living with dementia.
Bill Banks, group chief executive with Kingdom, who participated in the virtual tour, said: “Seventy-two staff attended the training and I am very pleased that Kingdom has been accredited as part of the Dementia Friendly (Fife) Community. The training will greatly assist our staff when providing advice and assistance services to our customers.”
Bill added: “The virtual tour was a very realistic way to help understand the issues experienced by people living with dementia and it provided everyone with a much better understanding of the challenges, which have a much wider impact than memory loss. I would encourage all social landlords and care providers to consider the virtual experience as part of their training plans. We carried out an evaluation after the event and 96.7% of the attendees on the training rated it as ‘excellent’, with the balance choosing ‘good’.”
Alzheimer’s Scotland and Fife Council delivered a series of ‘Dementia Friends’ courses to Kingdom staff.
Andy Smith, the Association’s learning and development officer, said: “I personally attended the courses and found them eye- opening. The statistics relating to dementia are astounding and it is likely that most of us already know someone who is directly or indirectly ‘Living With Dementia’. The training resources answer a lot of the questions people may have about living with dementia, highlighting the signs to be aware of, both professionally and personally and the actions and options to help those around us living with dementia.”
Matthew Busher, Kingdom’s head of housing, explained the background to the training: “A recent Scottish Government report highlighted dementia care as an issue of increasing importance given the projected demographic shifts in the population. We are likely to be increasingly involved in providing, designing and delivering buildings and services that are suitable and appropriate for people who have dementia and we felt the training was relevant to all our service areas.
“Kingdom is one of the first registered social landlords in Scotland to do this training which will allow us to make important changes to assist our customers.”
The courses were delivered by Janine Adair, from Alzheimer’s Scotland, and Ruth McCabe, from Fife Council, who is the lead for Dementia Friends Fife Project.
Ruth said: “We are delighted that the team at Kingdom Housing have embraced becoming dementia friendly with such commitment and enthusiasm. It is asking a lot for staff to give up an hour of their time to become dementia friends and the level of engagement during the sessions has been exceptionally high.
“The team in the office in Glenrothes has also made some significant physical changes to their space which means the building is much more accessible and fits all the criteria for being dementia friendly. Kingdom Housing is the first organisation that operates across Fife to receive the Dementia Friendly Fife award. It is well deserved!”
Glenn Knight, managing director at Training 2 CARE, which delivered the Virtual Dementia Tour, said: “Sometimes we have an opportunity to change lives and improve standards for the people within our care, staff and families alike. The Virtual Dementia Tour allows us to close the gap between people with dementia and us by allowing us to understand simple changes that need to be made to make a true difference.
“It is fantastic that an housing association such as Kingdom have shown the commitment to change starting with the Virtual Dementia Tour and we are looking to work with them to support them in this change. Rarely do we see organisations that understand the need to change and all at Training 2 CARE look forward to watching this development.”
During the training the staff arranged a fund raising raffle and dress down day, with more than £150 raised to support Alzheimer Scotland Fife Dementia Centre, Kirkcaldy.