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Educating a health service workforce about dementia: a qualitative study

Lesley Baillie (London South Bank University, London, UK)
Eileen Sills (Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)
Nicola Thomas (London South Bank University, London, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 13 June 2016




People who are living with dementia are core health service users, but there are ongoing concerns about the quality of their care and the need for improved education of healthcare staff. The purpose of this paper is to report a qualitative study that investigated staff perspectives on an ethnodrama (“Barbara’s Story”) which was used to educate an entire health service workforce and promote a person-centred approach to care.


The study used a qualitative, longitudinal design with focus groups held with clinical (nurses, allied health professionals, medical) and non-clinical staff. In Phase 1 there were ten focus groups (n=67 participants) and one individual interview. In Phase 2 there were 16 focus groups (n=77 participants) and three individual interviews.


Barbara’s Story raised awareness of dementia, engaged staff emotionally and prompted empathetic responses and improved interactions. The project’s senior leadership, whole organisation and mandatory approach were well-supported, with a perceived impact on organisational culture. The project helped to embed practice developments and initiatives to support person-centred care. Barbara’s Story is now well-integrated into the organisation’s practices, supporting its sustainability in use.


Whilst there are increasing resources for educating about dementia, there are fewer evaluations, particularly for large-scale educational initiatives, and a lack of focus on long-term effects. The study findings indicate that education about dementia can be delivered to a whole workforce in a sustainable manner, to prompt empathy, raise awareness, support person-centred care and impact on individual behaviour and organisational culture.



The Burdett Trust for Nursing funded the evolving Barbara ' s Story films and the evaluation. White Boat TV company produced “Barbara ' s Story”. The authors acknowledge all staff who were involved in developing and delivering Barbara ' s Story, in particular, the Adult Safeguarding Team. The authors also acknowledge Barbara Jayson, project manager, Trust staff who took part in the focus groups and interviews and London South Bank University academic staff who assisted with focus groups.


Baillie, L., Sills, E. and Thomas, N. (2016), "Educating a health service workforce about dementia: a qualitative study", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 119-130.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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