Leading practice change using Dementia Care Mapping


Advanced DCM Course Participants with Julie Prowse, one of the trainers

Dementia Care Mapping (DCM) is an established approach to embedding person-centred care for people living with dementia in a wide range of health and social care environments. It was founded by the late Professor Tom Kitwood at the University of Bradford and is recognised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Kitwood (1997) described DCM as:

“a serious attempt to take the standpoint of the person with dementia, using a combination of empathy and observational skill”

The University of Bradford provides two levels of DCM training. DCM for Realising Person Centred Care is delivered by experienced DCM trainers / practitioners, who facilitate course participants to learn how to use the DCM observation tool and practice change process to understand and enhance care practices within their own place of work. DCM for Leading Practice Change is delivered by an Advanced DCM trainer alongside colleagues from the University’s School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership. Course participants on this Advanced DCM course learn leadership and management skills to enable them to use DCM at an advanced level to embed the use of DCM and person-centred care across their organisation to improve quality. DCM training has been attended by thousands of people from across the world since it was developed in the late 1980s.

Lindsey Collins, Senior Dementia Care Consultant and Trainer, is the lead DCM trainer at the University of Bradford and tells us about a recent Advanced DCM course:

On our recent DCM for Leading Practice Change course held in Bradford we welcomed course participants from many different health and social care backgrounds, joining us from as far afield as New Zealand. Over the duration of the course, Julie Prowse, Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, and I had the privileged of supporting the development of a wide range of change projects. The projects ranged from specific small scale improvements for individual care planning to wider scale projects that looked to change care culture across multiple sites.

Practice change projects included:

  • Enhancing the lunchtime experience on an acute mental health ward
  • Supporting care staff to be more observant of signs of well and ill being
  • Providing individualised sensory stimulation items for people living with dementia in a care homes
  • Increasing opportunities for meaningful occupation in care homes, taking into consideration organisational, environmental and individual facilitators and barriers
  • Using an approach of provocative propositions to embed DCM action plans (asking care staff to state what care will look like and take ownership for implementing these changes)
  • Developing a DCM strategy to support mappers throughout an NHS Trust to map more regularly and embed person-centred care
  • Using DCM to identify individual needs to enhance the care planning for each individual within a care home
  • Supporting care home residents and staff to enhance their well-being during the transition to a new care home environment
  • Adapting the environment to provide quiet space for individual support and reminiscence
  • Evaluating the introduction of an interactive reminiscence and communication computer programme within a day centre environment

These projects have been implemented by Advanced Dementia Care Mappers over the past four months to improve the lives of people living with dementia. All of the projects were evaluated using DCM and course participants reported positive changes including: increased well-being for people living with dementia and care staff; increased meaningful activities and interactions; reduced interactions that undermine well-being and personhood; and staff feeling empowered to take ownership of the proposed positive changes to care practices.

It is always wonderful to hear real life examples of positive changes in care practices, which enhance the well-being of people living with dementia. We will be following up with those who attended the course to find out about the longer term changes they have facilitated.

For more information about DCM, or to book onto one of our courses, please visit: http://www.brad.ac.uk/health/dementia/dementia-care-mapping/ or contact Lindsey Collins on l.collins3@bradford.ac.uk

Written by Lindsey Collins

Senior Dementia Care Consultant Trainer