Family, kindness, Informed and friends, these are just some of the main things that matter to Queen Margaret University students when it comes to thinking about how they would like care to be delivered to them. And its been one of the key focuses of an on line module that we have been piloting entitled “Living Well with Dementia”.
Its been a fast paced and exciting 8 weeks, and the learning from and with the students has been immense, and something I am very proud to have been a part of. We have tweeted, video conferenced, discussed, tweet-chatted and reflected our way through a range of topics and questions, from early diagnosis and care to the use of technology and doll therapy. All of which is aimed at enhancing our learning about how we will deliver person centred care to those with dementia and their families, that we will care for in our professions.
Why do we need a dementia module, surely its covered in teaching?
You might be asking this, that sounds great but why is it required? Sadly the majority of training in the UK in Dementia is delivered after students have graduated! But we don’t see individuals with Dementia after we have graduated, we meet them and their families when we are still students, and I know from personal experience how scary it can be to meet someone who is distressed and challenging to staff, and how it feels to be that helpless individual. But what if we could educate our students in delivering good dementia care? Wouldn’t that be great for them and the people they will work with? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to sooth that troubled individual? After all it might be a member of my family or me one day. Dementia really is everybody’s business.
Why does it matter to me?
Too often in my working life I have met families with loved ones who are “denied access” to care due to either the professional’s lack of knowledge in dementia, or the clinical guidelines that say “the patient must have no cognitive impairment”, and it has made me feel quite ashamed in the past and powerless. To have a cognitive impairment seems to be an insurmountable hurdle for many when it comes to delivering care and too often health professionals are stuck in what we call a “biomedical model of care”. Don’t get me wrong there are many miracles in modern medicine and we should be proud to be part of that culture. But the price we often pay is losing sight of the person and what matters to them. In my clinical work I loved getting to know my patients and their life stories, it was the knowledge of the detail that helped tailor make that care and made it the best it could be.
One of the biggest reflections in the module was when we discussed the “What matters to me” campaign #WMTM, and what you see in the wordle above are our own views. Not really that different from what anybody wants I imagine.
Many reflected they hadn’t actually thought about it in those terms before, they found the idea quite challenging, I mean how do you ask a patient what matters to them? But for me its not how or when the question is asked, but the fact it is asked at all and considered in care is key. I wish I had room to share many of the wonderful experiences that were shared over the 8 weeks of the module. But here is one :
“The answers I have had have usually given great insight into what’s important to the person and some of these things are surprising! You cannot presume to know someone without asking , this stereotyping will leads to poor care that’s not person-centred, for people to be partners in care we need to know their wishes, their goals and what’s key in their life!”
We finished the module on the 8th of April with 8 students who stayed the course and who I hope will be our future ambassadors in Dementia care. I feel assured that the future is in safe hands, we are committed here at Queen Margaret University to ensuring that our students have that opportunity to learn about dementia and I am looking forward to the next phase of the journey.
If you were asked “what matters to me” what would you reply? #WMTM
Amanda Stears , Lecturer in Physiotherapy, Queen Margaret University
I am a physiotherapist to trade and am currently lecturing at Queen Margaret University in the Physiotherapy team . With a background in Neurology and Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy I am passionate about those in our society who are often excluded because they are “Misunderstood” or don’t quite fit into that medical box.