Free online course to help carers support people with dementia

A free online course that provides dementia carers with tools and advice to better support the people they care for is now open for registration.

The eight-week course, Foundations in Dementia, run by FutureLearn for the University of Nottingham, is open to both the general public and professionals, and will explore the signs and symptoms of dementia, interventions, support networks and more.

It is estimated that 500,000 people with dementia live in the community in the UK and the Alzheimer’s Society says it fears for those at home who rely on carers who may need to self-isolate. Last week, the charity reported that it was facing unprecedented online demand for support during the coronavirus crisis, with a 600% increase in people signing up to its online guidance for those affected by dementia.

The University’s online programme, which has contributions from 30 University dementia experts as well as family carers, offers those taking the course to learn to understand people with dementia and to care appropriately as a professional or family supporter. The course spans six topics, from prevention and diagnosis to end of life care, as well as offering insights from recent research.

It is the second time the course has been run after launching in January this year, with 3,500 people registering worldwide following its launch, ranging from nurses, people living with dementia and their families, care workers and health and social care students.

It has never been more important to give people the tools and support to help them care for a person with dementia. Lockdown is having a profound effect on people living with dementia, especially those living in the community and their family members who are their primary carer.

Professor Schneider, who with Dr Sarah Goldberg set up the course, continued: “The course offers discussion areas that may help meet carers’ needs for peer support, which are particularly acute at this time. There is no limit to how many people can take part. The interactive learning materials are available in bitesize chunks, with a recommended three hours per week study time.”

This a fantastic initiative by the University of Nottingham and plugs an important gap for dementia care. They are providing expert knowledge and insights from the latest in dementia research, free of charge, during a time where people are in serious need of support. Understanding dementia can help to alleviate some of the stress that can come with caring for someone with this difficult condition.

By engaging with the resources, which includes almost 30 videos, and exchanging views with others, those taking the course will gain knowledge, skills, and confidence in dealing with people with dementia. Key achievements will include the ability to:

  • Identify how lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of dementia
  • Assess the signs and symptoms that may indicate dementia and describe the pathway to diagnosis and treatment
  • Identify communication approaches which can support the person with dementia to communicate their needs
  • Compare the impact of different interventions including medication and psychosocial approaches.
  • Understand the needs of a person with advanced dementia and respond well.

The organisers suggest the course would suit health and social care professionals, such as nurses, doctors, therapists and social workers and will also interest students, carers of people with dementia, individuals with a recent diagnosis, volunteers, and dementia researchers. The online course makes up one of the modules that the University of Nottingham’s Adult Nursing students complete as part of their undergraduate degree.

While the course is open to people worldwide, some of the material is specific to England and Wales, such as the legal context and health service provision.

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