Promoting partnership working in the NHS

The partnership route to dementia awareness

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Employers and Trade Unions at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust worked in partnership to develop workshops to help staff gain a better awareness and understanding of dementia.

The workshops formed part of a wider objective to ensure more accessible learning opportunities for staff. This objective was affirmed in a lifelong learning partnership agreement signed in November 2013. The agreement led to the establishment of the Trust workforce development team, including management and staff side representatives.

The challenge – addressing inconsistent and poorly attended dementia training 

The trust had offered dementia training previously but attendance had been variable and the training inconsistent. The lack of effective dementia training had been highlighted in a Care Quality Commission inspection.To address this the deputy director of nursing, nurse lead for dementia and UNISON met with the Open University (OU) to collectively review learning opportunities. They decided to adjust the learning objectives to reflect the trust’s dementia strategy and acute trust setting. The UNISON lead agreed the programme with the chief executive to secure cross organisation support. 

The solution – the development, in partnership, of dementia awareness workshops

UNISON agreed the learning objectives and the session agenda with the OU. These were to raise awareness of the types of and causes of dementia, how having dementia affects the way a person behaves and functions, seeing beyond the dementia to the person and how it is still possible to live well with dementia. UNISON also led the creation of the application form process, with joint input and agreement from the lifelong learning partnership group.

The trust communication team designed publications and posters, collated applications and updated stakeholders with progress on applications received. The workforce development team promoted the workshops and delivered posters to the wards. They also communicated with ward staff, ward sisters, and managers about the workshops and the benefits  presented, i.e. that it would help to improve patient care and develop the confidence and capability of staff to support patients with dementia, and their carers.

To improve the quality of the workshops, attendee feedback after the course is essential. To ensure high feedback response rates, attendees receive their certificate of attendance only if they return their feedback forms to UNISON within 28 days. This feedback has provided a rich source of information, giving insight into the effectiveness of the sessions and how attendees intended to use the knowledge and skills gained. It has also informed the planning and delivery of future workshops to meet staff needs and enable learning to be optimised.

What has been achieved 

By March 2015 six workshops had been delivered involving 247 staff from a range of staff groups. The workshops have been well received by staff and further workshops are planned. UNISON and the OU are also rolling out similar awareness sessions based on the trusts approach.

A UNISON publication stated ‘The overwhelming success of UNISON’S QEH branch half day dementia courses that have run at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has led to the organisation of a full day conference for dementia awareness. The enthusiasm of the staff has been overwhelming. All types of front line staff will be attending the conference with nurses, other care groups and expert speakers.’

Darren Barber, UNISON: “The reason we put in a lifelong learning agreement was to see ownership for the staff at the trust, to use it as a networking opportunity for all staff across the trust to help development and understanding and support with union learn reps at hand to help to map out there learning experience and guidance. The agreement has been a huge success within the trust and its partnership working.”    

Dorothy Hosein, Chief Executive “The lifelong learning partnership is delivering learning opportunities that benefit both our staff and our patients. Unison have been particularly supportive in widening the awareness of dementia amongst staff and the training courses that have been delivered have enabled us to better understand the condition and adapt our services in order to provide those patients with an improved experience whilst in our care.”

Jade Myhill, QEH apprentice and course attendee “This course gave me the opportunity to learn about dementia and whilst I do not provide hands on care it has allowed me to understand what people living with dementia face on a daily basis this in turn allows me to support nursing colleagues and make services more accessible to this vulnerable group of patients.”

For more information contact:

Darren Barber, staff side chair:

Alison Webb, lead nurse for older people and liason services: