Dementia is one of the most prevalent and burdensome diseases in older age. By the year 2030, estimates suggest that there will be 74.7 million people with different forms of dementia worldwide. There is no cure for dementia: drugs address only the symptoms but not the causes of the disease, being in many cases ineffective or even harmful. Non-pharmaceutical interventions are continuously tested and updated to improve patients’ quality of life: these include interventions to increase communication skills, reduce agitation and stress, and use of new technology.
The value of disseminating evidence on these interventions is immeasurable, but surprisingly this knowledge is often not available to care staff. Especially DIRECT CARE WORKERS (e.g. associate professional nurses, medical assistants, care aids, or nursing assistants) are systematically excluded from accessing up-to-date evidence. Paradoxically, these workers face the most DEMANDING WORK SITUATIONS, being at the same time the most burdened group and the least trained one. VOCATIONAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM ARE INADEQUATE, since their working environment usually does not stimulate them to engage in lifelong training activities.
There are several barriers for direct-care workers to participate in effective training initiatives as: a) most of evidence is available only in English and not in other national languages; b) it is generally hard for them to find the time to engage in courses, which can be costly and time-consuming; c) their generally low digital skills prevent them from using existing web-based learning resources; d) they are often hooked in low-paid jobs and lack motivation for engaging in training activities. Nonetheless, evidence suggest that if adequately trained, they can contribute both to improve patients outcomes and their own working conditions.
The main goal of the iDO project is thus to make evidence-based knowledge available for low-skilled workers in dementia care. The project aims to translate up-to-date evidence in an accessible, motivating, engaging and innovative vocational training on dementia care for direct care workers, reaching professionals who are normally excluded from this knowledge.