Whanganui to introduce 'Walking in Another's Shoes' dementia training

19 February 2014
A training programme designed to help caregivers understand what it’s like to live with dementia and how to better understand those with the condition will be offered to Central Region dementia patient caregivers.
Following a successful demonstration of the ‘Walking in Another’s Shoes’ programme by Hawkes Bay District Health Board (HBDHB), regional health leaders have given MidCentral, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Capital Coast DHBs the go ahead to roll the training out for caregivers and dementia patients in their districts.
Developed by a psychogeriatrician and occupational therapist at Canterbury DHB, ‘Walking in Another's Shoes’ has been available throughout the South Island for some time.
WDHB senior portfolio manager, mental health & health of older people Andrea Bunn says the training provides dementia staff with new skills and a greater understanding of the pivotal role they play in the move towards more person-centred care for people with dementia.
“I’m sure it’s a model of care that will help caregivers, friends, family members and acquaintances have a more positive view of the condition and the care provided,” she says.
“While Walking in Another's Shoes teaches dementia caregivers to view challenging behaviour as a communication of un-met needs, it also has a strong focus on caring for the carer.
“Staff who’ve undergone the training talk about feeling they’re doing a better job. And the trainers appreciate the measures available to gauge the programme's effectiveness.”
‘Walking in Another's Shoes’ involves two separate training programmes. The first one (an eight-month course with monthly classroom sessions and individual tuition in the workplace) is aimed at workers including health care assistants, enrolled nurses, and carers who don't have high-level formal qualifications. 

The second one is aimed at staff with high level professional qualifications – a group that includes registered nurses and nurse managers who participate in an open-ended programme with a focus on peer review and support. Both programmes are said to be evolving and improving in response to feedback from participants.

Mrs Bunn says ‘Walking in Another's Shoes’ complements other aged care training programmes. “But where this is different, is that the dementia educator works alongside the caregiver and the person with dementia,” she says.