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Dementia: Understanding and Managing Challenging Behaviour

This free online course will help you learn more about managing challenging behaviour in people with dementia.

20,250 enrolled on this course

A carer supports an elderly woman with dementia
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

If you are a carer looking after a family member with dementia in your own home or a professional working with people with dementia, this free online course will help you better understand the person and develop the skills needed to manage their challenging behaviour.

Understand and manage challenging behaviour

The symptoms of dementia vary (depending on the cause and the individual), but often include memory loss, mood changes, communication and motivation problems, a reduced ability to plan and problems with controlling their own behaviour.

Some symptoms, such as restlessness, agitation and communication difficulties, can be challenging for you as a carer, and this can cause you high levels of stress and burden.

Learn from other dementia carers and academic experts

Dr Alison Coates is a dual-trained adult and mental health nurse and has experience of working in a range of different clinical environments. She is the author of the textbook ‘Nursing Older People’ and currently works at the University of Birmingham teaching mental health nursing with a focus on older adults. Dr Chris Wagstaff has experience of working in a variety of different clinical environments over the past 25 years and has taught widely about a number of different mental health issues. Nutmeg Hallett has a background in forensic nursing, is currently undertaking PhD research investigating violence prevention in clinical settings and is a lecturer in mental health nursing.

In this course, we will use case studies to explore these challenging behaviours and find out how other carers manage them both at home and in a residential care setting. You will explore how using a person-centred approach can reduce challenging behaviours. We will cover specific interventions that can help you, particularly focusing on de-escalation skills.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds CHRIS WAGSTAFF: My name is Chris Wagstaff, and I’m a senior lecturer in mental health nursing here at the University of Birmingham. I have over 20 years’ experience of working with people of a variety of different mental health problems. There are an estimated 44.4 million people in the world with dementia. In the UK alone, around 800,000 people have dementia. And as the population ages, this figure is expected to double by 2040.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds NUTMEG HALLETT: Though dementia is not a normal part of ageing. The risk does increase with age. And in the over 80s, 1 in 6 will have dementia. However, it does not only affect older people. And in the UK, around 15,000 people under the age of 65 also have dementia. The symptoms vary depending on the cause and the individual, but often include communication and motivation problems, memory loss, mood changes, and problems controlling behaviour. Hi, my name’s Nutmeg. I’m a postgraduate researcher, focusing on the prevention of violent and challenging behaviours.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds CHRIS WAGSTAFF: Many people with dementia will be cared for in their own homes, looked after by family members. This can cause high levels of stress and burden. Some symptoms can be challenging for careers. And this course aims to help people and enhance their understanding of the person they care for and develop some of the skills needed to manage challenging behaviours. This course will also build on the skills which healthcare professionals already have.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds NUTMEG HALLETT: This course will explore how a person-centred approach can help you understand the individual you’re caring for. We will help you provide care in a way that reduces or removes some of the challenging behaviours.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 seconds CHRIS WAGSTAFF: Person-centred care is about putting the individual with dementia at the centre of everything that is done. It’s about understanding the perspective of the individual with dementia. It’s about valuing individuality. It’s about the importance of their relationships and their interactions with the environment and other people.

Skip to 2 minutes and 25 seconds NUTMEG HALLETT: The course is relevant for both carers of people with dementia and healthcare professionals.

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 seconds CHRIS WAGSTAFF: The course will use case studies to explore the management of those behaviours that challenge in the home and in residential settings.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds NUTMEG HALLETT: We hope that by joining us, you’ll learn more about managing challenging behaviour in dementia. That you’ll improve the care you can give and improve the quality of life for dementia sufferers.

What topics will you cover?

  • The first week of the course provided an overview of Dementia, looking at prevalence, diagnosis and symptoms. It introduced the concept of ‘Patient Centred Care’ and the case study;
  • The second week of the course built on the case study, looking at how a holistic assessment can help carers work with behaviours which are often difficult for carers.
  • In the third week the focus moved to the problems of communication and dementia. The concept of ‘De-escalation’ is introduced and how de-escalation can help address challenging situations.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify, from a global perspective, the prevalence, symptoms and diagnosis of dementia
  • Contribute in discussions and learning forums which are designed to help carers and other people involved in care giving deliver appropriate interventions for people with dementia
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how effective communication skills can assist in managing and maintaining relationships with people with dementia, their carers and other people involved in care giving
  • Identify strategies that may potentially help carers, and other people involved in care giving, with issues involving food and meals for people with dementia
  • Reflect on strategies that may potentially help carers, and other people involved in care giving, with issues around people with dementia wandering
  • Explore and evaluate the use of ‘De-escalation skills’ when providing care for people with dementia

Who is the course for?

This course is relevant for carers of people with dementia and healthcare professionals working with people with dementia.

Who will you learn with?

Chris is a senior lecturer in mental health nursing. He worked for the NHS for 14 years before entering higher education and is part of the 'Risk, Aggression & Violence' research programme.

Lecturer in mental health nursing.
Postdoctoral researcher within the Risk, Abuse and Violence research programme, focusing on violence prevention in mental health settings.

Lecturer in mental health nursing
I have been a mental health nurse for 25 years. My interests are in older adult mental health, loneliness and mental health inequalities.

Who developed the course?

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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