By Maria Fagen, Group Training Manager, Westgate Healthcare

In the landscape of elderly care, identifying the signs and symptoms of dementia is of utmost importance. Memory loss, confusion, communication challenges, and emotional vulnerability are among the most common indicators. At Westgate Healthcare, our team members and dementia specialists are trained to identify and assess these symptoms, tailoring care plans to meet the specific needs of each resident.

It’s crucial to understand that different forms of dementia may present with varying early indicators. For instance, Lewy body dementia may initially manifest with hallucinations rather than memory loss, while Alzheimer’s disease often presents with memory-related symptoms early on. Frontotemporal dementia, on the other hand, may involve changes in personality as an early sign. Despite these differences, overlapping symptoms become more apparent in later stages, emphasising the need for comprehensive care and monitoring.

There are currently around 900,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK, and this number is set to rise to a staggering 1.6 million by 2040. These statistics underscore the urgent need for specialised care and support for individuals affected by dementia. Additionally, 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia, highlighting the prevalence of this condition among the elderly population.

Dementia, a progressive cognitive condition, presents unique challenges for both individuals with the condition and their caregivers. It requires not only patience and empathy but also specialised knowledge and skills. Westgate Healthcare’s dementia training combines classroom learning with practical demonstrations using modified equipment and simulated scenarios, allowing our teams to better comprehend the difficulties faced by those living with dementia. This hands-on approach enables our caregivers to develop a deeper understanding of the condition, laying the groundwork for person-centered care that preserves the dignity and uniqueness of each resident.

Furthermore, dementia training empowers our teams to employ effective communication strategies, transcending language barriers and cognitive limitations. Techniques such as validation and reminiscence therapy enable caregivers to connect with residents on a meaningful level, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing confusion or agitation. Additionally, training equips our team with practical skills to create dementia-friendly environments within our care homes. From optimising physical spaces to implementing structured routines and engaging activities, every aspect of Westgate Healthcare homes is designed to promote independence and enhance quality of life for residents living with dementia.

Continuous team member training ensures that our caregivers remain abreast of the latest developments in dementia care research and best practices. As the field evolves, so too does our approach, with ongoing education enabling us to refine and improve the quality of care we provide.

Maria Fagen has over two decades of invaluable care experience, including Domiciliary care. Her vast knowledge made her uniquely qualified to transition into the training realm, a position she has held for the past seven years.  Leading all Westgate Healthcare team member training sessions, Maria’s expertise covers a range of essential topics, ensuring that our staff are well-prepared to deliver exceptional care. At Westgate Healthcare, our commitment to training goes beyond compliance; it reflects our dedication to excellence in elderly care. By investing in the professional development of our team, we enhance the lives of residents living with dementia and enrich the overall care experience for everyone in our homes.

About Westgate Healthcare

Westgate Healthcare is a family-owned and run care group, founded by a nurse and her husband, and you’ll find that family feel in all eight homes across Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and London. With more than 25 years’ experience providing specialist and general residential care for people in later life, we’ve shaped our care experience by listening to and learning from the people who come to live with us, as much as from the specialists who train our teams. We believe that life is to be lived and loved, so we put individual choice at the heart of home design and activity planning. 

All inspected Westgate Healthcare homes are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the sector regulator, The Care Quality Commission.