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How To Become A Dementia Support Worker

Strengths And Limitations Of The Review

How can an Alzheimer’s Society dementia support worker help you?


Our extensive systematic mixed studies review of the international and national academic literature of models of support for community-dwelling people with dementia and their carers is the first to our knowledge to include both quantitative and qualitative studies and all models of support. Previous systematic reviews have focused mainly on the case management role, our review looks at all models of support for people with dementia, their families and carers. The investigation of both international and national models of support is also a key strength.


A limitation to this review was that it was not possible to conduct a meta-analysis of results due to the heterogeneous nature of the articles and the interventions implemented. Furthermore, it is also possible that some studies were not identified as a result of the search terms that were used in each database.

Get A Carer’s Assessment

If you care for someone, you can have an assessment to see what might help make your life easier. This is called a carer’s assessment.

A carer’s assessment might recommend things like:

  • someone to take over caring so you can take a break
  • training in how to lift safely
  • help with housework and shopping
  • putting you in touch with local support groups so you have people to talk to

A carer’s assessment is free and anyone over 18 can ask for one.

Psw Training To Properly Serve Dementia Patients

There are PSW courses that provide necessary training that will properly equip support workers with skills and knowledge required to confidently engage their dementia patients. Andrea Nicholson is one of the six-member team that provides specific skills training for PSWs who deal directly with dementia patients.

There is a common fallacy that implies that all personal caregivers are adequately trained to properly cope with their patients that are in various stages of dementia.

Truth is that far too many caregivers are not properly trained to manage the immense responsibility of caring for patients with dementia.

PSW training courses that are provided through Alzheimers Society of Toronto, equip PSWs to understand and meet the unique and specific needs of patients with dementia.

Read Also: Does Prevagen Help With Dementia

In This Guide We Discuss Exactly What To Consider And How To Succeed When Looking At A Career As A Support Worker

So you’re thinking about getting a Support Worker Job?

With an ageing population, increasing rates of dementia, and over 11 million people in the UK living with a limiting long-term illness, impairment, or disability, the demand for support workers is high.

This means that support work is readily available, and new staff are often taken on without prior training or experience. If you are new to support work, but the idea of it appeals to you, there are a number of things you should consider before looking for work.

Support Workers In The Community

Dementia Care

A support worker in the community visits people who need assistance in their own homes.

They may be people who have been discharged from hospital, or are elderly and losing their mobility, or they simply need a small amount of assistance in order to maintain their independence.

The tasks a support worker will usually perform include personal care, bathing, dressing, cooking and sometimes a small amount of cleaning if required.

The range of needs that a person has will depend greatly on their mobility and how much treatment they are receiving.

It may be that you will work alongside a community nurse as part of manual handling guidelines set down when moving a person, or you could be working on your own to ensure a service user has a healthy cooked meal that day.

You could also be a children and families support worker in the community working closely with both parents, guardians and children to provide emotional and practical advice.

This could involve working alongside a social worker or a case manager, so a key part of the job of a support worker is to be able to actively participate both as part of a team and as an individual.

Being a support worker is a hugely rewarding career.

It can offer a real sense of achievement and reward in the knowledge that you are helping to make someones life better.

However, it can also be stressful and you could find yourself working in isolation on some occasions.

About the author

  • Matt FarrahCEO & Co-Founder

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Dementia Specific Education For Personal Support Workers

The role that a Personal Support Worker plays within the Healthcare System in Ontario is of massive significance.

Because of the diversity of services that are provided by Personal Support workers, it is vital that they take part in continuing education and training programs. Personal Support Worker Education cannot be underestimated in its ability to equip workers for the massive responsibility of meeting the needs of the patient.

One of the areas in which the need for improved training and awareness exists is in dealing with patients/clients with dementia.

What To Expect From A Career As A Psw

Personal support workers play a vital role in the health-care industry, working in private homes or health-care facilities to help provide patients with care and comfort. Ontarios colleges prepare students for these careers with a combination of skills training, lab work and clinical placements that equip them to confidently enter the workforce. Full-time accelerated and standard programs can be completed in anywhere from six months to one year and part-time programs in up to two years. That means there are many ways to learn and train at a pace that works for you.

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Help With Incontinence And Using The Toilet

People with dementia may often experience problems with going to the toilet.

Both urinary incontinence and bowel incontinence can be difficult to deal with. It can also be very upsetting for the person you care for and for you.

Problems can be caused by:

  • urinary tract infections
  • constipation, which can cause added pressure on the bladder
  • some medicines

Sometimes the person with dementia may simply forget they need the toilet or where the toilet is.

Understanding And Supporting A Person With Dementia

Bob and Jo’s story – Dementia Support Workers – Alzheimer’s Society

This page can help you understand what a person with dementia is going through in order to give them the help and support they need to live well.

  • You are here: Understanding and supporting a person with dementia
  • Understanding and supporting someone with dementia

    Living with dementia can have a big emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person. Many people with dementia describe these impacts as a series of losses and adjusting to them is challenging.

    This page aims to give people – and carers in particular – a better understanding of what it is like to have dementia. It looks at ways to support someone to live well with the condition, based on that understanding. It also looks at how supporting someone with dementia can affect carers.

    Press the orange play button to hear an audio version of this page:

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    Data Sources And Search Strategy

    Literature indexed in the scientific databases MEDLINE, CINAHL and PsychINFO, was searched. Google Scholar was used to identify studies that did not appear in the scientific databases.

    The search conducted in EBSCO MEDLINE, CINAHL and PSYCHOINFO used key words and subject headings limited to English language published between 2003 and December 2014. Subject headings included: OR . Key words included: key worker, link worker, support worker, , case manager, , clinical nurse consultant, admiral nurse, , navigator, nurse specialist then all of these searches were combined with OR. Finally, the combined search of roles was added together with the combined search of dementia using AND to produce the final search.

    What Do I Need To Include In A Cv

    There are lots of different ways of writing CVs but for a simple CV, make sure you have your job history, professional skills, schools and education and, finally, references.

    Also, remember to look for the particular words they use. There will definitely be a ‘person specification’ that tells you the kind of worker they are looking for. Using the same words as those included in the specification will help them understand you’re a great choice for the job.

    Previous Job Experience

    Start with your current or most recent job. Make sure you include your employer name, start and end dates, and a short explanation of what you had to do. Don’t go into lots of detail here keep it short and sweet so it’s easy for them to read.


    These should be your last employer, college lecturer, school teacher, or a reliable member of the community that knows you, like your doctor or vicar. Make sure you ask these people first about using them as a reference. It wouldn’t look good if, for whatever reason, they didn’t respond to a request for a reference!

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    How To Support Clients With Dementia

    Over 55% of support workers on Mable provide dementia care. With over 425,000 people living with dementia in Australia, there are an estimated 300,000 nationwide support workers for this widespread condition. Weve compiled some everyday tips to help those with dementia feel comfortable in their environment with the help of one of Mables dementia support workers, Janelle.

    Janelle has been providing dementia and aged care to 10 clients through Mable since 2015. Before Mable, Janelle worked in nursing homes where she gained years of experience in all stages of aged care. In April 2018, she received her Bachelor ofDementia Care after three years of study. Today, Janelle continues to provide specialized dementia care with pride and flair. Below, Janelle has generously shared some tips with the Mable Team on how she cares for her clients with dementia.

    How To Prepare For Dementia Support Worker Interview

    Personal Support Workers: How to Help Clients with Dementia

    The best way to prepare for a Dementia Support Worker Interview will vary depending on your experience and qualifications. However, some tips that may help include:

    Reviewing the job description carefully so that you are familiar with the responsibilities involved in the role

    Thinking about any additional skills that you have and how these may benefit the care process

    Practicing your interview questions with a family member or friend so that you are confident when asked by the interviewer

    Having examples of previous work experience ready to discuss in an interview will help demonstrate why you are suited for this role. These should be based on situations where you had to apply your skills in a real-life situation.

    Good luck!

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    Support Workers In Learning Disability

    If you are a support worker working with people who have learning disabilities, you may be working with just one individual or a group of individuals living together in a supported environment.

    You will work on building a relationship with the individual whilst you support them with living their lives.

    Promoting independence and wellbeing in a person with learning disabilities is the biggest part of being a support worker.

    The individual care plan will very much depend on the service user and their capabilities, but as a support worker you will ensure they are safe whilst still getting the most satisfaction from their activities.

    Some people undertake volunteer work during the days, others live almost independently by shopping, cooking and cleaning for themselves.

    In your capacity as a support worker you can offer your opinion and advice about any activity or issue, but ultimately the final decision of the person you are supporting must be respected.

    For example, you could advise about healthy food choices when assisting an individual with making their shopping list, but it is their choice if they actually buy what’s on the list when they get to the supermarket.

    You could be involved in assisting them with any type of physical activity such as helping them exercise, or with recreational activities such as shopping, playing games, or cooking and cleaning in their home.

    Some service users may be able to live independently and will only need support when going out.

    If You’re Struggling To Cope

    Carers often find it difficult to talk about the stress involved with caring. If you feel like you’re not managing, don’t feel guilty. There’s help and support available.

    You may benefit from counselling or another talking therapy, which may be available online.

    Talk to your GP or, if you prefer, you can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service.

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    Support Workers In Mental Health

    Mental health is a very varied area for a support worker to work in.

    You could be working with individuals who have a drug or addiction problem, depression, or dementia.

    Support workers in this area are sometimes called STR workers, which stands for Support, Time and Recovery Worker.

    The emphasis is on providing support to the individual, giving them time and in so doing, aiding their recovery.

    Your work could include arranging peer support groups for people with a particular issue, or working alongside a psychiatrist, social worker or community mental health team in managing a caseload of individuals with a range of mental health problems.

    Your role will be to promote independent living, give regular and practical support and assist the service user to gain access to resources they might otherwise be unaware of.

    This could be through a community mental health team, early intervention service or day care centre.

    There are STR or support workers based in all these locations.

    Its important that you have a genuinely caring nature, and the willingness to help the individual overcome their problems, as well as the ability to prioritise your workload.

    Its common that an individual will be under the care of a multi-disciplinary team, so your ability to pass information effectively between other team members is essential.

    Implications For Policy And Practice

    Small changes help make a dementia friendly community – Alzheimer’s Society

    This review identified how dementia support workers are able to respond to the needs of people with dementia and their families throughout the course of the disease. Despite a paucity of high level evidence for the role the findings highlighted that dementia support workers have a unique potential to achieve person centred care and continuity of service through offering a single point of long term contact to the consumer. The needs of a person with dementia and their families vary over time and with these changes the need for assistance from health services also varies accordingly. The personalised nature of the support worker service mitigates the risk of this population reaching crisis point which is when many have been observed to access services . The inherent nature of the support worker service means the model/role can overcome issues such as fragmentation of services, poor service co-ordination and poor collaboration between providers by providing a real person to assist with dementia related needs .

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    What Qualifications Do I Need

    We’ve found job listings that don’t mention qualifications at all they just want the right kind of person. However, many job listings will mention NVQs in Care.

    If you’re looking at an entry-level job, they may talk about an NVQ2 in care. If you’re looking for anything more senior, they’ll mention an NVQ3. Generally, they don’t mind whether you have one or not, but you must be willing to work towards one. Getting an NVQ on the job is simple, and you usually get around a year to complete them.

    You don’t need to be academic for these as all they require is evidence of your skills. If you’re in a position where you can attend college, you can do your NVQs there.

    The downside is that you get less practical experience, but it does give you more time to become really good at what you want to do.

    Invite Them To Contact You

    End the letter by inviting them to contact you if they have any questions, and remind them of your phone number and email address again. This makes it easy for them to get in touch with you if they need to.

    I’ve Got An Interview!

    Congratulations! The next steps involve getting ready and making sure you’re 100% clear on everything you want to say in the interview.


    It’s important to double-check your route before you go to the interview. Even if you’ve made the trip a million times, don’t risk it. Double-check the transport times or, if you’re driving, make sure the day before that your fuel tank is full.

    Check your council’s website or Twitter feed, check timetables once again, and make sure your car is running happily the day before!


    Check the day before that your outfit is clean, ironed, and ready to wear. Again, like transport, it’s easy to ignore this one because you think, Well, I do this everyday. All it takes is one little coffee stain to suddenly make your morning complicated.

    If you want to get your hair cut, or nails done do it a few days beforehand. One mistake and suddenly you’re turning up to interview with a terrible dye job that you can’t fix in time.


    You don’t have to spend hours on this but do have a look at their website or a leaflet about them before interview. This way, you don’t get surprised with any tricky questions like What did you think of our last fund-raising event?”.

    Questions for them


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    Dementia Support Workers Bring New Life To Veterans

    Two specialist dementia support workers whose roles have been funded by a £26,000 grant are helping to boost the wellbeing of our residents.

    Anna Cartman and Precious Declan are providing one-to-one support and activities for our veterans to improve their quality of life and slow the progression of their dementia.

    The activities include quizzes, reading poetry, enjoying scents and textures and learning a foreign language.

    The roles have been created with the help of a grant from the Veterans Foundation.

    Karen Miller, chief executive of Broughton House, said Anna and Precious are having a greatly beneficial impact on residents who have dementia or who are living with cognitive decline.

    In a short period of time, they have helped our residents to regain their desire to connect socially with other people, improve their quality of life and their wellbeing and slow the progression of their condition, said Karen.

    Having Anna and Precious on board has been particularly important during the Covid crisis, as residents have been unable to see family or friends for long periods, increasing their sense of isolation. In common with other care homes, we continue to operate under strict rules due to our residents vulnerability.

    Veterans with dementia have been particularly at risk in terms of their wellbeing, as they struggle to remember and understand why they are not seeing friends or family, which can be very distressing for them.


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