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Dementia education and training framework

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The new dementia core skills framework comprehensively details the training and knowledge needed by all staff involved in the dementia care pathway

Citation: Wright C (2015) Dementia education and training framework. Nursing Times; 111: 48, 24.

Author: Colin Wright is skills framework manager at Skills for Health.


Dementia can affect anyone, regardless of age. While it is true that most people with dementia are over the age of 65, more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 are living with dementia (Alzheimer’s Research UK, 2015). Nurses and other health professionals need support to care for those with dementia, and Health Education England (HEE) has been working with Skills for Health and Skills for Care to develop the Dementia Core Skills Education and Training Framework.

Framework development

The framework, commissioned and funded by the Department of Health, is designed to underpin the implementation of the national dementia strategy (DH, 2009), the prime minister’s challenge on dementia (DH, 2015a) and the HEE mandate to develop the right people with skills and values to provide dementia care (DH, 2015b). The framework supports the development and delivery of appropriate and consistent dementia education and training for the health and social care workforce. Its development was steered by an expert advisory group that ensured multi-organisational and multistakeholder representation.

What is the framework?

The framework is a comprehensive resource that details the essential skills and knowledge necessary for all staff involved in the dementia care pathway. It will enable organisations to:

  • Standardise dementia education and training;
  • Guide the focus and aims of dementia education and training delivery through key learning outcomes;
  • Ensure the educational relevance of dementia training;
  • Improve the quality and consistency of education and training provision.

By setting out the skills, knowledge and behaviours expected for the delivery of dementia services, the framework will be of value to a range of stakeholders, including staff at both a personal and team level, trainers, assessors of occupational standards, service managers, education commissioners and education providers.

How it works

The framework is structured into three tiers to reflect the scope of HEE’s principal mandate requirements, as well as to ensure that the education and training needs of staff across the broad spectrum of health and social care settings can be met, regardless of whether they provide clinical care, offer information or provide support and assistance in other ways (Box 1).

Box 1. Framework tiers

  • Tier 1: Raising dementia awareness, in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes for all those working in health and social care settings
  • Tier 2: Developing knowledge, skills and attitudes for roles that have regular contact with people living with dementia
  • Tier 3: Enhancing knowledge, skills and attitudes of experts working with people living with dementia

The training/teaching and assessment methodology is not prescribed in the framework – the aim being that education and training should be developed to suit the local context. The framework is presented in 14 subjects and is structured to guide the user through a range of relevant information, including learning outcomes, links to relevant guidance, legislation, national occupational standards and other relevant frameworks. Further guidance, including suggested standards for training delivery, are also provided. Interactive hyperlinks to sources of information ensure reference material can be readily accessed.

Implementation phase

The framework was launched jointly through Skills for Health, Skills for Care and HEE media channels. HEE is also planning a stakeholder engagement event to support implementation.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I read the article on Admiral Nursing with great interest. I have worked as a Community Psychiatric Nurse specialising in Care of the elderly for nearly 25 years. I have also spent 4 years working in Liaison Psychiatry in two Acute hospitals also in Care of the Elderly. Whilst I am in total agreement with all the points made about recognition of the importance of carers needs, I feel astounded that there seems to be no recognition for the work of Mental health nurses such as myself and the team's I have worked with over all these years for what we do. The article actually described to the letter what we do.

    Over the past 25 years I have seen changes in emphasis as we now diagnose so many more people at a much earlier stage we just don't have the resource to provide the level of on going support for an indefinite time period as we used to. Dementia is now so wide spread up to a third of patients admitted to acute hospitals will be have it though many are likely to be undiagnosed. My point is really to say that CCG's could Commission our service more widely to provide this specialist care and feel we should recognise and make better use of what we have and address the challenges of what is preventing this.

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