Blog

Identifying the gaps for innovation

Identifying gaps in the health and care system is key to success with South London Small Grants, says Sandra Parish (pictured below) of the South London and Maudsley Foundation NHS Trust, who is running a project that for the first time provides training for staff that have often challenging conversations around dementia.

Colleagues at the Psychological Medicine and Older Adults (PMOA) at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust had been reviewing their training provision for dementia care. It was found that there was very little, if any, specific training for staff working with carers and those living with dementia which looked at having conversations around diagnosis and advance care planning. These were often quite challenging conversations for both parties which needed skill and compassion when delivering.

Spotting the gap

Maudsley Simulation and PMOA End of Life Group came together to submit a bid that looked at the gaps in training and proposed an innovative simulation training day to meet the needs of staff working across the dementia care pathway.

A literature search and consultation of all local and national policies were initiated to inform the bid and the training. The service user and carer group (SUCAG) linked to PMOA were also advocating for this type of training, to address what they thought was required to support service users’ and carers.

The project was a totally collaborative effort and was driven on both sides by passionate individuals with tasks allocated to make it a success. Service user’s thoughts and ideas were consulted throughout the process and they were also invited to observe one of the training days remotely and provide feedback. The project was delivered on time and within budget.

Identifying potential threats to the project

The project would only succeed if the potential participants, including external stakeholders, were identified early, given the learning objectives, information and time to attend. Keeping tabs on who was attending was a full-time job in the lead up to the training days. We were thankful that a member of the team took on the additional task of coordinating this.

The training was hosted and facilitated by Maudsley Simulation on each of the four training days. Senior clinicians from PMOA were there to support the running of the day and provide clinical leadership as needed. A patient story video was included to frame the morning and afternoon sessions and the carers generously gave their own time to support the project by telling their stories to camera.

Taking time to evaluate

The evaluation sheets were used to review the course after each day to make on-going improvements. The training was evaluated using qualitative and quantitative measures that were prepared as the course was designed. The results showed a statistically significant improvement in confidence and knowledge of the subject. Qualitative data gave us a good indication of how the training would be put into practice.

The training day is part of a wider remit to improve the provision of advance care planning and specialist end of life care across our Dementia Care pathway. Getting key staff involved in the training days has kick-started the conversation.