2. Skills and Knowledge Framework
2.1 In developing the strategy, it was clear from the working groups and the consultations was that improving staff training around the particular needs of those with dementia would be hugely important in transforming services.
2.2 The final strategy said that improvements in staff response is needed throughout the health and social care system, and in particular in relation to the strategy's two key improvement areas; improvements not only in knowledge about dementia but also in awareness of the need to promote and protect individuals' rights and dignity. From diagnosis and as the illness progresses staff should always be facilitating the co-production of care, in doing so sustaining independent living as far as possible. Staff in general hospitals and Accident and Emergency units often have a poor understanding of the needs of those with dementia (and of their families and carers) and addressing these knowledge and skills gaps would greatly improve care and outcomes. Similarly it would be possible to reduce the number of inappropriate admissions from care homes into general hospitals with better training for staff in long-term care settings.
2.3 Promoting Excellence is the result of nearly a year's work commissioned from NHS Education Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council. The work was overseen by a Programme Board chaired by The Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, Henry Simmons and comprising the range of interests, including people with dementia, carers and professional groups. The project was developed in parallel with the development of the standards and there are through both documents synergies and explicit linkages made.
2.4 The project began by establishing a common understanding of what the baseline of knowledge and skills should be for each particular job description in relation to dementia. The final framework is for all staff who have contact with and provide support for people with dementia and will be used in conjunction with pre-existing knowledge and skills frameworks relevant to particular care sectors and groups. It defines 4 levels of knowledge and skills, from baseline knowledge and skills required by all staff working in health and social care settings through to an expert level for staff who have a specialised role in dementia services. It defines stages in the journey of people's experience of dementia and describes ways in which staff can utilise quality of life indicators - mapped across to the standards - to measure the impact of a changing approach in the workforce in providing dementia services.
2.5 The framework's implementation over the next 2 years includes updating professional qualifications; revising and developing vocational qualifications; disseminating knowledge and learning; developing leadership capacity and integrated workforce capability within existing services; and targeting educational and ongoing training resources in key areas and settings.
2.6 There will be a key role for the third sector and with service users and families and carers in much of this activity; for example in focussing on workforce improvement activity it will be important to work with Alzheimer Scotland advisers and nurses; and with The Scottish Dementia Working Group, whose work of course directly reflects the experience and expertise of those with dementia.