Celebrating Innovative Training In Parkinson’s Awareness Week

Published: 22/05/2019

10 - 14th April 2017 is Parkinson's Awareness Week, an appropriate moment to share some of the innovative training we're rolling out at Bluebird Care Wandsworth so we understand what living with Parkinson's disease really means for those of our Customers affected.

At Bluebird Care Wandsworth we work with a number of Customers and their families living with Parkinson’s disease and are proud to support World Parkinson’s Day on 11th April 2017. This global event is part of Parkinson’s Awareness week (April 10-14th) a great initiative bringing people and organisations together to increase public awareness and understanding of the disease.

There are approximately 10 million people worldwide and 127,000 people in the UK living with the condition – that’s about 1 in every 500 people. Though celebrity sufferers like Michael J Fox, Billy Connolly and the late, great Muhammad Ali have raised the profile in recent years, many people are still unclear about what Parkinson’s disease is and the kind of challenges it presents for those living with the condition.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that develops when nerve cells die in a particular area of the brain. This damage affects the way the body is able to move and function. Muscle stiffness, slow movement and tremors are the symptoms most commonly associated with Parkinson’s but there are many other less well-known physical and cognitive issues that people with the disease may experience  – problems with continence, communication, balance, pain, sleep, depression, hallucinations, dementia and anxiety, for example.

Despite the wide variety of symptoms, a large number of people with Parkinson’s are able to live well for a long period of time. However, as the disease progresses, they may need an increasing amount of help to carry out practical tasks and maintain their quality of life. And that’s where we come in – with flexible, tailored homecare, our Customers living with Parkinson’s are assured of the very best support to meet their unique, complex and changing needs. We have earned a reputation for providing excellent care as a result of our commitment to recruiting the very best carers and ensuring they receive exceptional training.

Innovation in training

Some care companies provide staff with courses that tick all the necessary boxes but perhaps don’t go any further than that. At Bluebird Care Wandsworth we want more from our training – we want every one of our Customers to feel that they are being listened to, understood and supported in the right way. Equally, we want our Care Assistants to feel valued, knowledgeable and confident in their abilities to care for people with very specific needs.

So, how do we elevate our training to a higher level? Well, we ask the experts, of course! The true experts on Parkinson’s disease: people living with the condition.  By bringing their expertise into the training environment we can help care staff to attain a level of empathy and understanding that simply can’t be reached by relying solely on more traditional methods. Last year we introduced our interactive Learning Into Practice Workshop and the results were incredible. Staff, Customers and their relatives came together to learn about what living with Parkinson’s really means.

One Customer even said:

“I’ve learned more about my condition today than in many years of going to see my GP. Thank you so much!”

Through sharing their stories and encouraging honest discussion, our Customers and their families were able to give carers a special insight into their daily challenges and needs. This was a fantastic opportunity for carers to see things from the viewpoint of the individuals affected by the condition, which is such an important aspect of the person-centred care we are committed to.

The success of this workshop prompted us to roll this concept out further. As Tony, our Care Manager, explains.

“We now have a Customer with Parkinson’s and his partner coming to be a part of our Skills Assessment Induction for new Care Assistants, to share his experience from the customer perspective, which is really powerful stuff.”

Customer-focussed learning is an essential element of the continuing professional development of our carers. Using such an innovative approach enables us to provide the highest standard of care, specifically tailored to each individual’s unique requirements.

In honour of Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2017, Bluebird Care Wandsworth would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has generously shared their lived experience of Parkinson’s disease with us – your input enables us to learn so much and is absolutely invaluable!