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Skills development in dementia care
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Yrkeshögskolan Höga Kusten in Kramfors has carried out a mobility project with the Municipality of Varde in Denmark, in connection with the course Specialised Auxiliary Nurse for Dementia Care. The project comprised two activities, an initial visit by teachers and administrative staff, followed by a three-week work experience for two of the students at a dementia care home. Yrkehögskolan (Higher Vocational Education) is post-secondary education which offers courses in close co-operation with the workplace and business organisations. Courses receive state grants from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education, based on an established need for a specific occupation. Most of the students offered a place on the course, Specialised Auxiliary Nurse for Dementia Care, already have long experience of work within nursing and health care. One of the course units is called Learning in a work environment (Lärande i arbete, LIA), an internship which is intended to give the student further knowledge, skills and abilities within dementia care, both in theory and practice. The student chooses a LIA internship which is expected to provide the best opportunities for his or her personal development. Before the start of the academic year 2015-16, Yrkeshögskolan Höga Kusten submitted a successful Erasmus application and teachers and administrative staff paid an initial visit to Varde during the autumn of 2015. These people are key figures connected with the course; they organise and develop the course and are employed as teachers. They have long experience within teaching and as leaders/managers within nursing, health care and the school system. The aim of the mobility project was to raise quality and creativity, increase the employability of the students and strengthen co-operation between Swedish and Danish dementia care. During stage one of the project, staff visited Social og Sunhetsskolen in Esbjerg, which trains auxiliary staff within nursing and health care. The visit provided us with new insight into factors which promote a good learning environment and also, in the long term, the recruitment basis for this area of work. Afterwards, we visited both a short-term care home and a dementia care home where the students later did their work experience. At these homes we learned what ways of working are used with a view to achieving person-centred care. We were also shown around the homes. The dementia care home had a living environment which was specially geared to the service users. The initial visit included preparations for the students’ subsequent work experience, too. We also visited Centret för Sundhetsfremme, where three dementia consultants work. Work with dementia within the municipality is guided by a dementia strategy which is in operation from 2013 to 2017. The Municipality of Varde shared the core of their vision with us; that people with dementia and their families are to receive individual help which supports them in their everyday lives and gives them autonomy, while minimising their disability. The centre co-operates with the municipality’s dementia care homes and co-ordinates help, provides information and works to support development and guidance. In connection with the mobility project, two cultural activities also took place; a visit to the open-air museum “Den gamle by” (the old town) in Aarhus and another to the village of Blåvand near the Atlantic coast. We can now sum up and evaluate the results achieved by the mobility project. Overall, we can say that the achievements of the mobility project are very good and knowledge and perspectives have grown with regard to how dementia care can be provided in a high-quality way. This has furthered and will continue to further the content and quality of the course. We will pass on our experience to future students and those we co-operate with. Both staff and students have gained new knowledge and skills which increase their understanding and their ability to cope, and this benefits the nursing and care of people with dementia and their families. Another result of the project is that contact has been made between people involved in our project and our hosts and so sharing of experience between Sweden and Denmark in the field of dementia care will continue. Since the first mobility project was a great success, we applied to carry out a similar mobility project in 2016-17, too. We are happy to have been accepted, another positive result of the first mobility project. In the long term we believe that the mobility project will encourage both students and staff taking part to continue to make contact across national and cultural borders, promoting both the exchange of knowledge and cultural diversity in Europe.
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