Families living with dementia wanted for pioneering dementia programme for trainee healthcare professionals

Date added: 20 May 2019

The ground-breaking, award winning Time for Dementia programme, launched in 2014, is appealing for families affected by dementia from Sussex and across the south east to participate. The programme has been helping train the healthcare professionals of tomorrow to improve the way that people with the illness are cared for by health services.

Time for Dementia is the first programme of its kind in the world. Since launching, over 1,200 Families living with dementia in Sussex, Surrey and Kent have taken part, helping train 2,600 student healthcare professionals, including medical, nursing, paramedic and allied health professionals (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, radiography and speech and language therapy) students.

Working in pairs, the students spend regular time with families affected by dementia over a two year period. Students visit a family three or four times a year for up to two hours. The visits improve knowledge, attitudes and empathy towards people with dementia and their carers, increasing understanding and having a long term impact on the way these medical professionals provide care.

The programme is being delivered by Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Surrey, University of Brighton, University of Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and the local NHS Trusts, including Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It is funded by Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex which is part of Health Education England, the body that funds undergraduate training of healthcare professionals.

Dr Stephanie Daley, Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Dementia Studies, who leads the Time for Dementia project said: “Time for Dementia has been ground-breaking in both its aims and its results. By giving healthcare students the opportunity to spend time with families affected by dementia, we have challenged their assumptions, improved their skills, highlighted the importance of family and encouraged them to consider how they might need to adapt the way they provide care. We will be following our students into practice to monitor the real world impacts of the programme.

“To continue delivering the programme, we are constantly looking for families to take part. This Dementia Action Week, we’re appealing for families across the south east to find out what’s involved and sign up if they feel able to.”

Evaluation results have shown statistically significant improvements in dementia knowledge and attitudes. Additionally, three key themes have been identified from the evaluation, improved insight and understanding, challenging pre-existing negative attitudes and assumptions, and enhanced dementia practice. Families (people with dementia and their carers) also report value from taking part in the programme.

The programme is keen to recruit more families to participate. Families in Surrey, Kent and Sussex interested in taking part in the programme can email timefordementia@alzheimers.org.uk or phone 07713 779582 or sign up on via Join Dementia Research on www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk 

Based on the success of the programme, work has recently started on another world first sister programme, Time for Autism, which will start at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2020. Operating in a similar way, students will visit families with children with autism spectrum disorders.