Theresa McNally, Creative Practice Manager at Vida Healthcare, discusses the importance of leadership in dementia care and why creating a culture of training and development in dementia specialism is so important. Although more care home operators are delivering a good and even outstanding level of care to their residents, there’s still much work to be done if we’re to achieve a national level of outstanding care provision, both generally and for specialist dementia care. Providing outstanding care relies on a number of factors, including understanding the importance of leadership in dementia care and creating a culture of training and development. Providing outstanding care From the point of view of care, it makes sense to support people with similar needs and to ensure the right people are employed to offer appropriate and consistent levels of care and support. An environment that not only meets current care needs, but is able to progress with individuals as they move through their care journey is important. In terms of care homes, assigning designated teams to different areas can encourage specialisms to develop amongst staff. As people progress through their care journey, particularly for those living with dementia, their needs will change but the requirement for suitable care and enrichment doesn’t diminish. Everyone needs purpose and fun experiences to maintain a meaningful life, therefore all care should take this into account. Being able to adapt to the needs of each individual resident is very important in ensuring outstanding care is provided which is person-centred and flexes to the needs of each individual, no matter the level of care they require. The importance of leadership Care home operators can encourage staff to become interested in training and career development, and provide outstanding care to people living with dementia, through strong leadership. Effective leaders should challenge the care that is being delivered, and look to seek out new and innovative methods of care delivery. It’s also recommended to dedicate time to understanding why certain care is required and how the needs of each resident can be met to protect and enhance their wellbeing. A leadership team which is self aware, promotes training and education, and challenges themselves and their colleagues to empathise with care home residents will foster a positive and caring environment. If the leadership team leads by example in understanding how residents feel, it makes it much easier to deliver the level of care and compassion that is required. An effective leadership team will also work closely with families to create and deliver thorough care plans for residents, which not only meet their needs at the time, but are flexible to ensure they can follow the care journey of the resident and their family members. This is also important to ensure that the wishes of everyone involved are adhered to. Care home operators and their leading staff members can work together to develop a culture of learning amongst staff, greater understanding of the role of the care home environment, and how to deliver outstanding care. Creating a culture of training Providing opportunities for career development is very important if care home operators are to encourage staff to consider social care as a career rather than just a job. This will also drive their passion when it comes to caring for society’s most vulnerable, and ensure people are committed to delivering best practice and learning new skills. Investment in career opportunities will inspire more people to become interested in a role within social care, and make current carers feel supported in their ambitions. Employers should show compassion and interest in the personal development of employees to create a positive workplace culture and working environment which retains existing staff and attracts new talent. There are lots of initiatives that can be put in place to support carers in their training, development, and skill set. One such initiative is unique and specialist training platforms which promote lifelong learning and establish carers as ambassadors for the people they care for. A range of courses can be offered through training platforms, such as mentorship programmes for staff to support new carers, development programmes, student placements, and reinvigorated Care Certificate offers. For more information on the specialist dementia training available, please visit https://vidahealthcare.co.uk/vida-academy/.