Dementia training at region’s mental health trust not good enough, former employee claims

Conrad Debney, who used to work at NSFT. Photo: Conrad Debney

Conrad Debney, who used to work at NSFT. Photo: Conrad Debney - Credit: Conrad Debney

Dementia training for staff at the region's mental health trust does not match up to recommended standards, a former staff member has claimed.

Conrad Debney worked for Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) for 15 months from 2016, but before that had been working in mental health services in Norfolk for nearly 20 years from 1991 to 2010.

In his most recent role he was responsible for training staff in how to care for those with dementia.

But since he left the trust he said training standards had dropped and now comprised of just part of a one-day session incorporating various parts of mandatory training.

Mr Debney, from Buxton, said: 'After I left I was very concerned because this is a trust which covers most of East Anglia and we've got around 34,000 people in Norfolk and Suffolk with dementia. So I was very concerned that we've got staff who are actually struggling in difficult circumstances and they want to do the best they can, but they're not being offered the training.'

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According to a study commissioned by Health Education England, best practice for dementia training is that each session is tailored for the group receiving it, it should be delivered by someone experienced in dementia care, and should last at the very least three and a half hours.

But Mr Debney said that was not what was happening at NSFT.

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He said: 'Dementia care involves philosophy so it's about understanding the person who is still in there. It can be very hard to connect with them but it's very important.'

Duncan Forbes, director of human resources and organisational development at NSFT, said: 'NSFT runs a comprehensive programme of dementia training for all our staff who work with service users with the condition.

'This training includes regular updates to ensure our practices are in line with the guidance best suited to meet the needs of our patients.'

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