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Sharing knowledge with force

Amanda Odd, Manager, Willow Park Lodge

Amanda Odd, Manager at Willow Park Lodge, part of the Athena Healthcare Group has demonstrated a commitment to forging links with their local community by partnering with the local police force.

For many years Kent Police has run a successful programme during the initial training for new officers, where they attend a ‘Community Placement’ for a period of 2 days, and further into their career another placement of 4 days.

The aim of the partnership is to educate on the signs and behaviours common in people living with dementia, enabling a better interpretation of behaviours, removing stigma and promoting understanding.  The outcome is improved police performance, greater communication and increased trust.

Amanda introduced the placement scheme at the home after having successes with the community placement scheme in previous homes that she has managed.

Amanda said, “Our ethos here at Willow Park Lodge is very much about partnership working with our local community.  When we heard about Kent Police’s Community Placement programme we were keen to get involved.

Not only does it gives the police officers first-hand experience of how tailoring your communication effectively to the individuals you are working with can prove effective, it also shows officers how to treat people as individuals, signposting them to community services to enable them to get the help and the support that they may need.”

Officers who have been placed at Willow Park Lodge have been extremely positive about their experience, with one officer commenting,

“I have learnt that dementia does not have a face.   There are many different types of dementia and everyone is affected differently. I was taught how to try a diversionary approach, when someone may become frustrated or anxious, as well as to try and establish the cause of the anxiety.

It had never occurred to me to look for signs of pain, and to gain an understanding for signs and symptoms of potential infection.

I learnt very quickly from the staff at Willow Park lodge how important it is to get to know your residents and their life history. I recall one lady was becoming very anxious and she didn’t know where she was, despite me telling her.

The carer I worked with had given me a book of old-time Dover so I sat with the resident and looked at the pictorials within the book. The lady became extremely responsive and was able to talk about her life history as a child growing up in Dover. The transformation for this lady was incredible and reminiscence therapy was something I would not have thought about until staff at Willow Park Lodge taught me how beneficial this could be.”

Amada says, “By knowing our residents and gaining as much knowledge about their biographical and occupational history as well as adopting a person-centred approach to care, can make a real difference.

It is possible to live well with dementia and it is of vital importance that we share our knowledge of this to our policing partners so that the best outcome can be afforded to the most vulnerable in our society.”



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