POSitive About DEMentia – How to support a positive approach to people with dementia in the educational context

Authors: Kohlmayr, S., Gebhard, D., Mir, E., Collier, E., Heaslip, V., De Vugt, M., Klinkenberg, I., De Jong, N. and Johnson, M.

Start date: 31 October 2016

Worldwide, 47.5 million people have dementia, with 7.7 million new cases diagnosed each year (WHO 2016), as such there is a strong need for special education programs in this area. Formal and informal caregivers, other health professions, managers of health care facilities as well as policy makers or other professions working with this target group should be empowered to support people with dementia to have a good life.

Against this background the multi-lateral Life Long Learning EU-project POSADEM was launched in September 2013 to develop a transdisciplinary education program in the field of dementia care. An international consortium, including experts from Austria, Finland, Ireland, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, developed an education program from participation with people with dementia and their caregivers. Three modules represent the core elements of the program with focus on the topics `Living with dementia: Personal Perspectives` (module 1), `Living with dementia: Societal Perspectives` (module 2) and `Living with dementia: Innovation and Leadership` (module 3). Module 1 was developed by the Bournemouth University, the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, the Maastricht University and the University of Salford. The aim of this module is to generate a positive and resource-orientated framework that enables students to support people with dementia to live a good life. Due to the interdisciplinary and international perspective of the module team, innovative learning materials were developed. Module 1 focuses on the life with dementia from the individual´s perspective and on the relationship between people with dementia and their formal and informal caregivers. The learning materials offer a variety of didactical methods and tools, like online lectures, videos, vignettes, research articles and checklists.

From January to March 2016 module 1 has been piloted. Students from each partner university worked on the learning materials during a 10-weeks online course provided on the platform Moodle. Online discussion boards and weekly live video sessions enabled an international exchange and gave students the opportunity to get some feedback from the lecturers. After the piloting phase the students had to rate the learning materials and the online platform by using a predefined questionnaire. The 6 participating students spent 161 hours on average for piloting module 1. The highest ratings on a 4-point-scale (1=strongly disagree, 4=strongly agree) got the diverse learning environment (MV=3.83, SD=0.37) and the good possibilities to reflect the contents (MV=3.66, SD=0.47). The interaction with other students (MV=2.17, SD=0.69) and the navigation through the learning materials (MV=2.33, SD=0.94) were rated lowest. Using a 5 point-scale (1=very satisfied, 5=not satisfied at all), the all in all experience was rated as satisfying (MV=2.16, SD=0.37).

So far, the POSADEM education program is a successful example for the transdisciplinary development of resource-orientated learning materials. Furthermore, the intercultural and interdisciplinary composition of the POSADEM project team offers the opportunity to walk along new educational pathways in the European context.

Authors: Johnson, M., Heaslip, V., Nordberg, D. et al.

Start date: 31 October 2016

The project was developed in response to the pan-European challenge of dementia, and the striking disparities between, and even within member states, in terms of staff education and qualifications. Posadem is an EU multi-lateral project that aims to educate and develop an effective and informed dementia workforce through an interdisciplinary Masters programme. Current partners are based in Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Begun in September 2013 and seeing person-centredness as core (Kitwood 1997), the programme takes an appreciative view of the experience of people living with dementia and those who live with and care for them, with an emphasis on how to support a person’s abilities rather than focus on any loss of capacity (Swaffer 2015). In recognition of this people with dementia travelled to and were directly assisted in project development meetings. Along with detailed analysis of policy and research literature, we have undertaken three phases of interviews and focus groups with and extensive network people with dementia and their families, and with stakeholders in health and social care, charities and professional organizations.. These data have informed the development of three core Modules: ‘Living with Dementia: Personal Perspectives’; ‘Living with Dementia: Societal Perspectives’ and ‘Living with Dementia: Leadership and Innovation’. Although content can be delivered by classroom methods, the modules are designed to be available on line through any of the common Virtual Learning Environments and will be provided by universities in concert with their wider provision. We aim to provide useful but more basic introductory content openly on line via a Modular Open On-Line Course (MOOC).

Crucially each module takes a pan-European, interdisciplinary approach. A particularly innovative aspect of the programme is that each module assessment will include dissemination and integration of learning into practice in services used by people living with dementia and their carers/families, to promote an optimal impact in society. We will report on our recently completed pilot study undertaken with a group of professionals and volunteers working with people with dementia across Europe and on plans to develop dementia inclusive education internationally.

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