Dementia awareness training

UCLPartners is working with Health Education England (HEE) in north central and east London to lead a cultural change in dementia care across our partnership by ensuring that all healthcare staff receive basic, appropriate dementia awareness training.

UCLPartners is supporting the NHS to improve healthcare delivery, by ensuring it has a workforce that is skilled to provide high quality dementia care at all stages of the condition; and able to understand its importance. As the number of patients with dementia are expected to continue growing, demand for quality dementia care will increase.

 Strategic objectives

  • Develop a model of training which builds capacity within organisations, allowing them to increase dementia awareness so that staff can interact with people with dementia compassionately and confidently
  • To facilitate a culture change whereby dementia becomes embedded in the organisational consciousness and is considered at every point of planning and strategy.

This project aims to catalyse for dialogue about improving dementia care across a wide community of partner organisations.

Dementia care in England

The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020, published in early 2015, outlines a need for the promotion of awareness and understanding of dementia in Britain and global action on dementia. The report calls for improved public awareness and for all NHS staff to receive training appropriate to their role by 2020, as well as:

  • Equal access to diagnosis of dementia as for other conditions
  • Meaningful care and support for patients and carers
  • Increased funding for and accessibility to research

The 2014 HEE report on dementia education laid out ten principles of dementia education across three tiers of training, to be implemented (as part of courses) for all levels of health and social care staff.

Basic dementia awareness training (Tier 1 – training of primary care)

Tier 1 training is essential information aimed at all health or social care staff. It provides basic dementia awareness and is relevant to all roles, but those who are in regular contact with dementia patients should have more in-depth training.

Progress to date

Funded by HEE in north central and east London over the last two years, UCLPartners has developed a combined train-the-trainer model. Nearly 40,000 clinical and non-clinical healthcare staff have received this Tier 1 training to date.

Our Tier 1 training course has been awarded Dementia Friends accreditation. Dementia Friends is a programme run by the Alzheimer’s Society to change people’s perceptions of dementia with an aim to create communities in which people living with dementia feel more understood and included. The accreditation recognises educational programmes that deliver dementia awareness training and gives anyone attending our session the choice of becoming a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends are asked to commit to helping people who are living with dementia.

Our training attendees are therefore able to register as Dementia Friends as well as counting towards HEE training ambitions, which look to have all health and social care staff trained by 2018.

Current workstreams

Our project currently consists of the following three work streams:

1. Dementia awareness in primary care

The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 highlighted the role GPs play in coordination and continuity of care for people with dementia, as part of the commitment that from 1 April 2015, everyone will have a named GP with overall responsibility and oversight for their care. However, the Alzheimer’s Society 2015 annual report on quality of life for people living with dementia surveyed GPs in England and found 23 percent felt they have not had sufficient training in dementia to understand how to manage people living with the condition. GPs need more training and knowledge in order to deliver the joined-up care necessary to support a person to live well with dementia, which we aim to provide by developing a dementia friendly GP practice scheme. This model will include all practice staff attending a Tier 1 training session and the practice committing to an action, similar to other schemes in the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends programme.

Our aim is to create 100 dementia friendly GP practices across the north, central and east London area by 31 March 2017.

2. Enhanced dementia awareness training (Tier 2)

Tier 2 training is aimed at staff in general healthcare settings or who are in frequent contact with people with dementia, providing more practical knowledge than the general information provided in Tier 1 training. It can also be seen as a starting point for staff to develop more specialist knowledge. Following the project’s experience of embedding Tier 1 training within trust’s education and training, we will deliver train-the-trainer sessions and support existing Tier 2 training across north, central and east London.

Our aim is to train 5,000 staff in Tier 2 by  31 March 2017.

3. Evidence of impact

UCLPartners will evaluate the influence of training, by examining the care provided for people living with dementia, and their carers, in both new dementia friendly GP practices and across our participating trusts.

Dementia awareness training has real potential to impact those who are trained and the people they care for. Read a story from Whittington Health which shows the impact training can have. This story is not an isolated account of the positive effect of dementia awareness training. There are many opportunities ahead, and we encourage all of our partnership organisations to continue to internally coordinate, schedule, and deliver dementia awareness training to their workforce and evaluate the outcome. The enduring commitment of all our partner organisations continues to inspire our work.

Partnership networking

We continue to ensure community of care networks are developed and embedded within the healthcare system. We are working with health and social care staff to create these partnerships and forums for sharing best practice in dementia care.

The London Health Commission report highlights a need for greater and stronger partnering between health organisations, providers, and people who use services in order to improve health and social care. This is particularly relevant when it comes to long-term conditions.

These have included:

  • London Ambulance Service: Tier 1 dementia awareness training sessions were made available to London Ambulance Service (LAS) in early 2016. Training sessions have been attended by clinical and non-clinical staff, and will continue throughout this project. A number of LAS clinical tutors have attended  train-the-trainer sessions in order to deliver knowledge as part of induction and refresher training.
  • Optometrists: UCLPartners is working collaboratively with the College of Optometry and the UCL Dementia Research Centre to develop and deliver enhanced training to optometry professionals across the UK. In 2016, dementia training sessions were delivered at two industry conferences: Eyecare 2016, Glasgow in January, and 100% Optical, ExCeL London in February. These sessions were delivered jointly with the UCL Dementia Research Centre and gave a great opportunity to raise awareness amongst this field of healthcare professionals.
  • Pharmacists: There is a collective focus to provide easily accessible training and resources on dementia to pharmacists. Three training courses have been held specifically aimed at pharmacists, using materials developed with support from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Green Light Pharmacy, and the North-East London Local Pharmaceutical Committee (NELLPC).
  • Dentists: In February 2015, UCLPartners and Eastman Dental Hospital held their first dementia awareness conference for dentists and dental care professionals. Feedback from the event showed that all dental professionals felt more confident in providing advice to patients and delivering treatments. A second conference was held with new speakers and knowledge sharing in November 2015.

In the video below Alistair Burns, the National Clinical Director for Dementia at NHS England, speaks about dementia awareness and the need for training.

Join Dementia Research

Join Dementia Research is a national service that aims to accelerate the pace of dementia research by allowing people with and without dementia to register their interest in studies, helping researchers find the right participants at the right time. UCLPartners was the pilot site for the initiative and continues to support its work as part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator. Anyone can sign up to take part in a study and help researchers develop methods of care and treatment. Find out more and register.

Free online course from UCL: The Many Faces of Dementia

The first session of a new free online course has recently finished. The Many Faces of Dementia, run by Dr Tim Shakespeare, Alzheimer’s Research UK Fellow at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, explores four less common dementia diagnoses.

The Many Faces of Dementia is available on FutureLearn and runs for four weeks each time it is on. Watch a trailer to find out more, and register interest for future sessions of the course.


Challenge on Dementia 2020: Putting Words into Action – on 10 March 2016, the second UCLPartners dementia conference examined the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020 a year on; and how we in London have set out to meet the challenge.
Presentations from the day are available here.
Watch the video from the conference here.


Sian Jones, Senior Project Manager

Follow us on twitter: @UCLPartners #dementiaaware