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£1.2m training site to help all Norfolk care homes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:30 07 October 2020

Professor Chris Fox, of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, was an advisor on the original WHELD programme which has been digitlised to be accessed by all care homes in Norfolk. Picture: Chris Fox

Professor Chris Fox, of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, was an advisor on the original WHELD programme which has been digitlised to be accessed by all care homes in Norfolk. Picture: Chris Fox

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Reducing distress in dementia patients and ensuring care home staff have access to support has formed a new £1.2m online training platform accessible to all of Norfolk’s care homes.

The E-WHELD project has been described as “vital” by its creators who hope it can be rolled out to 1,500 homes across the country.

The aim of the online system is to help staff access information to support dementia patients, their own mental health and improve their skills.

The Wellbeing and Health for People with Dementia (WHELD) programme, has been made accessible online to include resources, training and solutions to challenges care homes have experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.

Project leaders say in addition to “upskilling” staff, it will also improve residents’ quality of life and reduce the use of sedative medications.

The project is led by the University of Exeter and King’s College London and involved researchers from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

Professor Chris Fox, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, was an advisor on the original WHELD programme.

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He said staff faced challenges around training or getting access to health and social care support due to the pandemic.

Professor Fox said: “WHELD has been tested over at least two large trials and improved wellbeing of residents and reduced sedative medication use. “The new E-WHELD will allow expansion of these benefits across the care sector providing evidence based support for support looking after people with dementia.”

He said in future staff faced handling the emotional stress for those living with dementia, but would have the tools to do so.

Professor Fox added: “This will allow families to perhaps have better interactions with their loved ones in residential care for example by seeing less distress.”

He has begun approaching care homes in the region about using the site.

Professor Dag Aarsland, of King’s College London, said the impact of coronavirus may have increased emotional stress in those living with dementia,

He said: “This project will address these challenges and help to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia in care homes, helping families and carers adapt to these challenging times better.”


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