The real impact of caring for someone with dementia

Proving the value of lifelong learning, Sharon Platt undertook a Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Dementia Care after her parents were diagnosed with the degenerative condition.

Sharon took the qualification to gain a broader insight into the disease and to help support her parents through difficult times. When her parents were diagnosed, it was quite a distressing time, and Sharon often f elt helpless. This, she says, was due to her lack of understanding of dementia.

Sharon studied the course via distance learning, meaning she could fit this around her busy life, travelling between home, work and the hospital. However, this was no easy feat. Sharon stated: “I think there’s a perception, not only of vocational qualifications but of online learning, that it’s easy, but that certainly wasn’t the case!

Sharon went on to say: “It’s not as simple as just reading and writing an answer, or ticking some boxes, and I think a lot of people are under the impression that it is. I had to complete a comprehensive workbook and send it back to the qualification moderator. She gave me really good, detailed feedback so that I could finish it. I had to finish one book before I could start another – this made sure I really knew my stuff.”

While there was a lot of background reading, the qualification included a lot of practical examples, which helped Sharon to apply her learning to her real-life situations. This practical application was essential to get the most out of the qualification.

Throughout the qualification, Sharon learnt about person-centred care, how to approach someone with dementia and respond to different types of behaviours. She learnt that you should never question or contradict someone with dementia, because they sometimes cannot remember. This helped Sharon a lot, as previously she would try to explain things that had happened to her parents, only for them to get confused or upset.

Sharon also found the learning resources that came with the qualification helpful, stating: “They were really high quality, I was impressed. They were so valuable. In addition, I received phone support from Tribal, who created the materials. They called me up to check my progress, which was really helpful. I also got an instruction pack which contained loads more information, like how to understand dementia and someone suffering from it. I could interpret my parents and understand how they were trying to describe things. But I could also describe dementia to others.

“I also found it useful that every module would tell me if I was on the right track. It’s encouraging to know that you’re heading in the right direction - that spurred me on. I had set deadlines and that helped to keep me on track and focused.”

Overall, how did Sharon find the qualification?

“It was really challenging, which I didn’t quite expect, but it made me push myself. I found it really interesting and thanks to the practical examples, I was able to apply my learning. That’s the most important thing for me. I didn’t take this qualification for my career, I did it so I could better understand the condition my parents are suffering from, and so that I could take care of them in the right way.

“Soon enough, the care staff at the hospital asked me to keep an eye on my parents and other patients which meant that they really trusted me, and this felt great.”

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051. This means we need to be prepared to deal with this, both in and outside of the Health and Social Care sector. The Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Dementia Care meets the needs of the sector, giving learners an in-depth insight into dementia and providing the skills needed to work in this essential area.

Find out more about our health and social care qualifications.