E-Learning training on growing older with learning disabilities and dementia

Best practice: An e-learning workforce training resource has been developed on ageing and dementia in people with learning disabilities (LD) for multi-agency workers in Birmingham

Who did it: Dr Sunny Kalsy-Lillico, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Birmingham Community Health Care Trust; Claire Robinson-Adams, Older Adults Specialist Nurse; Penny Dobson-Smith, Physiotherapist; Jackie Day, Speech & Language Therapist; Sarah Meharg, Occupational Therapist; Jonathan Craven, Head of Dietetics all at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust.

We have developed an e-learning workforce training resource on ageing and dementia in people with learning disabilities (LD), for multiagency workers in Birmingham.  This was achieved by converting existing classroom based training into an e-learning training resource that with summative assessments of modular learning to ensure basic competencies are met.

Currently, senior clinicians from psychology, community nursing and speech & language therapy offer workshops for staff on ageing and dementia, incorporating issues in assessment, diagnosis, interventions and service delivery.

Furthermore, ad hoc training is provided by these and other clinicians, on an individual service basis.  Over a year, these clinicians are providing direct training to between 100 – 150 staff with significant costs to the trust i.e. backfill, clinician time, resources etc.

E-learning has formalised multidisciplinary collaboration leading to high quality training materials and the potential for reliable assessments as the information contained has been developed by highly specialist expert clinicians.

The training can be updated quickly and consistently and can be shared and reused thus reducing administrative burden.  Furthermore, current clinician-trainers are freed up for more targeted applications of workforce development such as specialist interventions to improve the wellbeing of an individual with LD and dementia. 

The e-learning is essentially the story of ageing and dementia for people with LD with information on assessments and interventions that can be expected. We felt it was important to describe the different roles and responsibilities of the clinical services that patients and carers come into contact with, when they are seeking support in their health and mental health needs.

We have included chapters on what to expect at a GP surgery, when meeting a psychiatrist, psychologist, community nurse, speech & language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and dietician.

We have also included information relating to advocacy and accommodation options.  Furthermore, links are also provided to the series of Easy Word & Pictures booklets/leaflets that were produced by the Growing Older with Learning Disabilities & Dementia multiagency group in conjunction with service users.

These resouces provide information about conditions such as dementia, situations such as keeping yourself safe as you age and tips on keeping yourself healthy and happy as you grow older.

We already knew that the physical and mental health needs of older people with LD and people with LD and dementia are not adequately met by mainstream services.  Furthermore, our local experience has also indicated that health and social care workforce require support in order to meet the changing individual health needs of this service user group.

The local population of older people with LD is set to increase over the next 20 years and e-learning has represented an effective resource to develop the workforce to support them to meet this demand.

E-learning is available for trust staff and a CD/DVD alternative is available to multiagency staff and informal carers in Birmingham. This ensures that the same key knowledge and information is being circulated.  The training also signposts individuals to services currently available with Birmingham for ageing individuals with LD and dementia

For futher information contact Dr Sunny Kalsy-Lillico; Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Birmingham Community Health Care Trust at Sunny.kalsy@bhamcommunity.nhs.uk