It appears to me that there is a lack of any significant coaching for those who have any caring role where dementia is present. This lack of coaching in any structured form is apparent for paid carers and those who inherit the role when the condition invades their family.
The normal period of training for paid carers is three days. Those that we have come into contact with through our Agency mention three days induction at the Office. It is my understanding that such basic training concentrates primarily on health and safety matters. Then they shadow an experienced carer for a short period of time before they are let loose with their own round of calls. I believe that are given a handout or two on how to handle clients who have dementia.
Lets just imagine the scenario during this ‘baptism of fire’. The ‘fresher carer’ is given a list of calls without scant detail, if any, of the clients they are about to visit. Calls can be a short as 15 minutes or as long as a couple of hours. They arrive at the door for the first time, might be able to scan a Care Plan and then it’s all hands to the deck. Hey all of this reminds me of my days as a Supply Teacher. That was challenging enough but this little lot has much greater potential to go wrong and you are completely on your own. There is one word for this if dementia is around madness.
Now moving on to dementia within the family. It is likely that Care Partners, and possibly other family members, have seen the signs well before diagnosis. They have adapted to their loved ones brain injury and life has gone on. Following diagnosis they are faced with a new reality: what had hoped was age related is something far more sinister. Depending on where they live in the U K there will be various levels of support available to prepare them for their fate. I have had the good fortune of an Admiral Nurse: a personal coach but they are few and far between. With only two in this County, Heather is pretty stretched and her availability could never match my need to pick up my new role before it ‘bites me in the bum’. Yes I get frequent painful reminders that I have not played my cards right here: distress and chaos gives me instant feedback on my shortcomings. The approach to coaching Care Partners is also madness.
In short, the coaching available for paid carers and care partners is pitiful. Those with dementia are being sold short. How come that some of the most vulnerable members of society are being cared for by people who have had so little coaching for such a challenging role? Now I understand why dementia is under the umbrella of Mental Health. I wonder and who really needs to be assessed? One of the purposes of this Blog is to draw attention to this madness: my wife and all those with dementia deserve better than this.