Maritime charity says training is key to tackling dementia crisis –

Maritime charity says training is key to tackling dementia crisis Published:  01 March, 2013

Seafarers charity calls for more dementia training for home workers.

A maritime charity which provides dedicated nursing and care to former seafarers living with dementia, said more training for care home workers is key to treating the UK’s growing number of dementia sufferers, after a report by the Alzheimer’s Society claimed that up to 80% of care home residents are affected by dementia.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which provides care and accommodation to retired seafarers, opened a dedicated dementia centre two years ago after discovering that 40% of its residents were living with some form of the disease.

The chief executive of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, said that whilst it is important not to confuse properly diagnosed dementia with the memory loss associated with natural aging, it is essential that care homes invest in specialist training for staff and create the right environment to care for those living with dementia.

He said: “Dementia is a complex condition which requires staff intensive, tailored care and plenty of mental stimulation to prompt memories and prevent feelings of isolation which are often associated with the disease. When we realised that 22 out of our, then, 54 residents had dementia we recognised that specialist support and training was required. So we built a specialist dementia annexe, invested in training for our staff and employed extra activity co-ordinators to ensure the best possible quality of life for our residents. This then allows families and friends to enjoy an improved quality of life.

“Since the unit opened in 2011 we have supported many people suffering from the condition and have witnessed first-hand the positive impact that early diagnosis and dementia therapies such as music and reflexology therapy, and the installation of memory boxes, can offer.”

The charity’s comments follow reports in the media that 320,000 of the 400,000 people living in care homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now have dementia or severe memory problems according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which is based in Banstead, Surrey, has some 90 staff which provide dedicated nursing and care for the home’s 68 residents, together with supporting sheltered accommodation and 14 acres of grounds. The centre caters for up to 36 residents living with dementia and offers high quality facilities, trained staff, a sensory garden and range of specialist therapies designed to enhance quality of life. Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society is one of the only care homes to offers inter-connecting rooms so couples can continue to live together while accessing specialist care.