Helping Hands Dementia Experts
Specialist care in the home is at the very heart of Helping Hands and we are determined to help families stay together in their own homes as far as possible.
That’s why we now have the largest number of dementia carers in the industry with over 300 qualified carers, supported in the community by a team of dementia experts – called the Dementia Champions.
The team, lead by Tiffany Smith and Jayne Vale are based in all regions across England and Wales and are on hand to support customers and their dementia carers. Tiffany tells us what led her to be a dementia carer and then later a champion, trained by the University of Worcester.
“Working as an Hourly Carer, I supported a 92 year old lady living with Vascular Dementia. I cared for her as her condition progressed, as she suffered a series of mini strokes. I supported both the customer and her family with various behavioural changes right through to end of life care. This intense involvement gave me a real insight into what it is like for people living with Dementia, which compelled me to learn more.”
Q. Why have you chosen to be a specialist trainer and dementia carer, and why are you so passionate about caring for people with dementia?
The simple answer to this is that I didn’t choose this subject to specialise in – it chose me. I have personal experience with this as my Granddad had Alzheimer’s dementia which is why I am so passionate about learning as much as I can about the subject, so I can pass my knowledge on to others.
Working for Helping Hands has made me realise that my Granddad was misunderstood as he was never officially diagnosed and I don’t want any other families to go through what we as a family went through.
I also cared for a gentleman for over five years who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia. When I first started to care for him he was able to walk and talk but over time I watched him deteriorate to a person with limited speech and no mobility. Both their determination to keep him at home, coping with all that life had to throw at them meant that we were able to care for him in the home that he loved, right to the end and this meant so much to him and his wife.
I strongly believe that all dementia carers, whether they are family members caring for a loved one or a paid carer, they should have knowledge of dementia, to enable them to provide the best levels of care.
Q. You have been working towards a Dementia Qualification, can you tell us more?
After a lot of hard work and dedication I will soon be credited by the Worcester University as a Dementia Specialist. The course that I have been attending has covered a wide range of subjects the key modules that I found of particular interest were:
- Brain functions
- Cognitive capacity and neurological impairment
- Impairments in memory, language, visual perception, spatial awareness, planning and judging
- Different types of dementia
- Cultural diversity in dementia
- Older adult health and the use of psychotic medication in dementia
- Health issues: depression in dementia,
- Assessment and management of pain
Q. What other training qualifications do you have which aid you in your training as a dementia carer?
As well as having many years of practical care experience I have completed my PTTLS course which is preparing to teach adults in the life-long learning sector, which I need to have to pass on my dementia knowledge to carers and customers.
I completed a Death Dying & Bereavement course which allows me to offer counselling to carers and customers, following the passing of a loved one. I have also completed three additional dementia courses held by Warwickshire and West midlands County Councils.
I have completed NVQ Level’s 2 and 3 and also have my A1, which enables me to assess carers completing the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). I am qualified to teach moving and handling as well as train in level three medications incorporating stoma and convene care, surgical stockings and peg training.
Q. Helping Hands recently started to hold Dementia Awareness Days for families affected by Dementia. Why do you think this is so important and what feedback have you had?
Being able to offer this free training and support to families and loved ones of people with dementia shows how important dementia awareness is to Helping Hands. I am very proud and privileged to be able to provide the information and guidance to help those affected by dementia.
Those who attend our awareness days are really interested in how the brain functions and tend to be surprised at why they hadn’t been provided with clearer information after their loved ones were first diagnosed. Understanding which parts of the brain are affected and how it operates, enables them to understand how their loved one is effected and why their behaviour changes.
Some comments that I have received from people that have attended the training are:
“I really cannot see how Jayne could have done any better. She really does understand the condition and was amazing with her teaching skills, I benefited from the day extremely well, Jayne was such an excellent teacher, she has so much knowledge of the subject and related it so well,”
“Thank you so much for giving up your time on a weekend to offer this to us. Holding the training on a Saturday has meant that both my father and I were able to attend, and it was a lovely day trip coming to visit you in Alcester”
Q. What are your three top tips for being a dementia carer?
Above all else you need to:
- Have lots of patience
- Remember that they are still the same person with feelings
- Have compassion and understanding for that person
Dementia Personality of the Year
Helping Hands dementia lead Jayne Vale was crowned the Dementia Care Personality of the Year at the National Dementia Care Awards. The Awards, held as part of the annual National Dementia Congress are already established as the leading UK Event to recognize and reward the very best people in dementia.