Skills for Health

Skills for Health is your Sector Skills Council, for all health employers; NHS, independent and third sector. Everything we do is driven by your skills and workforce needs.

10 February 2016
Communication, Health, Care

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Skills for Health is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the health sector across the United Kingdom (UK). Our strategic aim is to develop a skilled, flexible and productive workforce for the whole health sector in all UK nations, to raise the quality of health and healthcare for the public, patients and people who use services.

Skills for Health is uniquely positioned across the whole health sector to support workforce and skills development. We have an effective model of joint working with Skills for Care to ensure cross sector issues are considered and addressed in a way which supports patients and people who use services to move between truly integrated services. This work reflects the different structures, workforce and cultures which exist in each of the sectors.

 Skills for Health, working in partnership with Skills for Care, has developed and is implementing a Workforce Training and Education Development Action Plan to ensure that the sectors have an appropriate qualification framework that supports the National Strategy for Dementia and the new Government commitment to improving dementia services.

 We play a crucial role in shaping education supply and provision for the sector but workforce and skills development is wider than just qualifications and we have a range of tools and resources that are relevant to Dementia services.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Diversity of the workforce

One of the key challenges for Skills for Health is the diversity of the workforce and the wide range of differing needs in terms of skills development, ranging from dementia awareness through to detailed specialist knowledge. Dementia crosses traditional sector boundaries with individuals passing between health care and social care service provision. Each sector has very different structures, professions, cultures, languages and service funding arrangements which can bring challenges for workforce and skills development. 

Financial constraints

Against ever increasing financial constraints there is a risk that support and commitment to new or ongoing workforce and skills development will be viewed as a low priority. The challenge is to ensure that employers continue to value their staff resource and recognise the long term benefits to patient outcomes of having a skilled and flexible workforce.

Organisational change 

The NHS across England will be undergoing significant structural change over the next 2-3 years and our challenge will be to support employers during this period to ensure that a workforce which can support effective operational delivery remains a priority

2. Actions

  • The authoritative sector voice on skills and workforce development

    Engage with health sector employers to ensure we can be the authoritative sector voice on skills and workforce development for the whole sector.

    We are currently working with partners such as Health Education England (HEE) and The Department of Health (DH) to support the development of their Dementia Strategy.

    We are also working with a number of employer networks throughout the UK which are focused on Dementia. These local networks have enabled the sharing of good and best practice. A number of workforce transformation projects supported by funds and other resources from Skills for Health are also be part of this work.

  • Development and application of workforce policy

    Inform the development and application of workforce policy through research and the provision of robust labour market intelligence.

  • National Occupational Standards

    Champion an approach to workforce planning and development that is based on the common currency of National Occupational Standards.

  • Flexible and modernised workforce capable of improving productivity

    Implement solutions which deliver a skilled, flexible and modernised workforce capable of improving productivity, performance and reducing health inequalities.

  • Resources specific or relevant to Dementia; available or in development

    Skills for Health has developed National Occupational Standards (NOS) or competences to describe what individuals need to do, what they need to know and which skills they need to carry out to effectively perform an activity.

    They can be used by all health professions, and all levels of staff, whether in the independent or voluntary sectors or in the NHS.

    Skills for Health has developed and is implementing , jointly with Skills for Care, a Workforce Training and Education Development Action Plan for Dementia

    The Action Plan has been formally submitted under a joint report to the Department of Health. The Plan is being implemented through the range of ongoing Sector Skills Council commitments for example developing the Qualifications and Credit Framework. (QCF).

  • Supporting a range of local dementia workforce development initiatives.

    Skills for Health, jointly with Skills for Care, has developed a range of units and qualifications (linked to existing National Occupational Standards) that specifically support workforce development for dementia services. These units and qualifications are:

    • 8 units at level 2

    • 8 units at level 3

    • Level 2 Award Awareness of Dementia 200

    • Level 2 Certificate in Dementia Care

    • Level 3 Award Awareness of Dementia

    • Level 3 Certificate in Dementia Care

    • In addition, there are level 2 and 3 dementia specific learning pathways as part of the level 2 and 3 diploma in health and social care (available from January 2011).

    • Skills for Health is supporting a range of local dementia workforce development initiatives. These will benefit not only the workforce but also people that use services. In some cases, this work, may lead to resources that can be made available at a national level for sharing more widely. For example, in Oxford a new role of Dementia Advisor has been developed working across GP Practices, which is now being taken forward to become a National Transferable Role.

  • Skills for Health is committed to review its range of projects and products, as appropriate, ensure that the needs of dementia services are reflected.

    • Skills for Health, jointly with Skills for Care, is developing a range of resources that will enable the workforce to support carers better. Version 1 of the framework and supporting resources will be available from Autumn 2010, with Version 2 and impact evaluation findings available from Summer 2011.

    • Skills for Health, jointly with Skills for Care, has developed a suite of principles and competences for End of Life Care.

    • The competences and principles are available on the website. Further work to raise awareness, support implementation and to refine and develop these is ongoing and additional guidance and findings will be available from April 2011.

    • Skills for Health is committed to ensuring dignity is at the heart of all we do, through both our existing products and services, and integral to our ongoing work programmes.

    • Skills for Health has a range of products and resources that support Strategic Workforce Planning, including the Six Steps Methodology and a suite of National Occupational Standards. The National Occupational Standards (competences) include a specific suite, which defines the knowledge, understanding and performance criteria for service commissioners and these could support GP consortia as a common building block, for role development, and subsequent education and training initiatives to support these roles. Use of the Six Steps, across any organisation will help ensure that decisions made on workforce design and the recruitment of new staff and teams are sustainable and realistic; and that they fully support the delivery of high quality patient care, productivity and efficiency.

  • Internal awareness raising

    Ongoing activity to embed consideration of dementia in all skills and workforce development work streams.

  • My Health Skills

    My Health Skills – The online networking platform for healthcare employers.

    My Health Skills will encourage those who are passionate about workforce development share best practice, resources, access information and provide a platform to voice their opinion, ask questions and seek answers!

    Members are encouraged to join a group, start a group, make a change…

    Current dementia related groups:

    Dementia Skills

    Dementia Navigators

    Dementia Core Skills & Knowledge Framework - Expert Group / @myhealthskills

    My Health Skills offers the following:

    A platform to share Best Practice in healthcare workforce developmentProvide links to group related led blogs and other social media platformsShare and access information (Links to news, relevant websites etc.)Share documentation, videosDiscussion forumsWebinarsDigital ‘How to Guides’

    Note: Any members can create their own group that specifically looks at an area of expertise. They can choose for this group to be open or closed!

    This network belongs to the employers! It’s free to join and will connect members to professionals working in the health sector, encourage and promote the sharing of best practice, knowledge and experience whilst providing full access to webinars/blogs from key speakers in the industry around particular themes. 

  • @DementiaSkills

    As part of the My Health Skills Dementia group, we have set up a twitter account that is focussed on engaging with issues and people with a common interest in Dementia.


    Supporting workforce development of those caring for people living with dementia. Our vision is to see a skilled workforce through education and training.

  • The Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia

    This guidance was commissioned by the Department of Health as part of the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy: Living Well with Dementia (Department of Health 2009).

    The guidance was researched and compiled by Karen Davies, Skills for Health and James Cross, Skills for Care.

    Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia - a good practice guide for the wider workforce The person with dementia needs support that encourages continued independence and enables them to enjoy life, with family, friends and carers learning to adapt to their emerging needs. The quality of the wider workforce is critical to improving the experience of the person with dementia.

    The Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia provides guidance for everyone working in health or social care. The principles will enhance workers’ skills and confidence in adapting their actions and communication in order to respond appropriately to the person with dementia.

    The principles are based on current policy and information provided by people who use services, and by practitioners in different health and social care settings. They therefore provide a framework for learning and development and form the foundation for good practice in any setting.

    A partnership approach to support local dementia care In collaboration with local partners, Skills for Health has tailored the Common Core Principles for supporting people with dementia to meet the challenge of caring for East Anglia’s elderly population.

    Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance was involved in finalising the national core principles, which provide a foundation for good practice and support learning and development. Skills for Heath and the Alliance have since consulted with a wide range of local groups and individuals to add two further core principles; identify skills needs and prioritise training for healthcare professionals and the wider population.

    The partnership will address the gap between the Alliance’s vision for dementia care and the current status. The work has already highlighted a lack of understanding that will now be tackled through a regional awareness-raising campaign.

    Ten Dementia Core Principles adapted for Norfolk and Suffolk in consultation with local Stakeholders and the Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance

    Remember the person.The person comes before the task.Communicate sensitively to support meaningful interaction.Promote independence and encourage activity.Provide care interactions that meet the needs and abilities of the person with dementia.Family members and other carers are valued, respected and supported just like those they care for.Understand the behaviours. Recognise the signs of distress resulting from confusion and respond by diffusing individuals’ anxiety and support their understanding of the events they experience.Work as part of a multi-agency team to support the person with dementia.Managers need to take responsibility to ensure members of their team are trained and well supported to meet the needs of individuals with dementia.Know the characteristics of dementia and understand the experience of the person with dementia.Early diagnosis of dementia helps people receive information, support and treatment at the earliest possible stage.Know the early signs of dementia.


  • Supported Workforce Development Projects

    Supported Projects

    Earlier this year I asked for expressions of interest from anyone who wanted to work in with us to deliver a measurable impact through workforce development and change.  We received 30 submissions. We contacted everyone who got in touch, and discussed their suggestions in detail. We are delighted to report that more than 12 of these projects are now up and running with support from Skills for Health.

    Admiral Nursing Services

    The Admiral Nurse Service for the North of West Sussex (Crawley CCG and Horsham and Mid-Sussex CCG) was initially commissioned as part of the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge Fund.  Additional funding from West Sussex County Council allowed for the expansion in the number of Admiral Nurses to be recruited. As the funding from the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge Fund is non-recurrent, the Admiral Nurse roles will be part of a year-long pilot that will be monitored and evaluated with support from Skills for Health in the hope of extending and growing the service should the pilot prove to be successful.

    University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust - Development of Nursing Assistants with and Enhanced Knowledge of Dementia

    The trust is engaging with the Government’s National Dementia Strategy (2009) with a commitment to early diagnosis and good quality interventions for patients and carers. This project seeks to develop the role of 15 existing Nursing Assistants to enable them to provide a person centred and integrated approach to care and support for patients with dementia in an acute setting.  By improving their knowledge and understanding of dementia, these Nursing Assistants will be able to deliver high quality care to patients in a proactive manner more attuned to the needs of people with dementia, including carers and families.  A Transferable Role Template identifying the competences and the learning and development required to fulfil this enhanced role will be developed.

    Western Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland – Development of Frail Elderly Monitoring Role      

    The recent review of health and social care in Northern Ireland – Transforming Your Care – calls for a renewed focus on health promotion and prevention to reduce demand for acute health services, and home as the hub of care for older people, with more services provided at home and in the community.  GPs will be assuming a critical leadership role in new Integrated Care Teams to support closer working between and within hospital and community services.  This project aims to develop a new support worker role, which will be part of the Integrated Care Team, to monitor frail elderly patients, leading to improved crisis intervention for frail elderly patients, an increase in choice for patients and their families in end of life care and an increase in integrated working across health, social care and community sectors.

    The Royal United Hospital (RUH) Bath Improving quality of care: Developing improvements in mental health care and nursing expertise

    A significant number of patients requiring acute care at the RUH have complex health needs and an ever increasing number of these extend to mental health needs. It has become evident that existing options to ensure the patient receives nursing care from an appropriately skilled professional do not always deliver a consistent quality care outcome for both patients and staff and are not always enabling the best and most efficient deployment of resources to match patient need. The Project focus is to develop a new role of band 3 specialist mental health HCA, Implement a selection criteria tool to determine deployment of mental health specialist ie RMN or specialist mental health HCA and to Implement an ‘observation tool kit’ to support nurses in the care of these patients.

  • Dementia Training

    Train the Trainer events based on the Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia.

    We have recently completed a second round of Train the Trainer events based on the Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia. Through these events we managed to register nearly 650 delegates from across the health and care sectors. The events helped those who attended better understand the principles, learn how to embed them into their training and network with regional and national colleagues. We have also completed follow up sessions with those who attended the first round of events. We supported organisations to identify what they needed to do to take the next steps in implementing the principles into their provision and offered our support to achieve their goals. All organisations who accepted the follow up days received the up-dated training package with additional support material and a number of copies of the printed principles booklets.

  • Dementia Awareness in Schools

    Skills for Health have developed and delivered a Dementia Awareness in Schools package with St Thomas More School in Blaydon. Five workshops were  delivered to a group of 17 year 10 pupils. After the workshops the learners developed an awareness campaign for the school.

  • Skills for Health Quality Mark

    The Skills for Health Quality Mark aims to provide employers and education commissioners with greater assurance and confidence in their investment of their training and development, i.e. assurance that staff are receiving learning and development that is employer led and meets a defined standard of quality.

    The Quality Mark (recognised across the NHS, Independent and Third sector) will generate efficiency savings by; reducing the need to duplicate training when individuals move between organisations; promoting closer alignment between service need and education and development; providing evidence required for accreditation of staff for voluntary registers; providing recognition and credibility to ‘in-house’ education and training

    All training providers, who provide training to the health sector, can apply for the Quality Mark. This includes, private training providers, further education colleges, HE and NHS Trusts/Boards offering internal training. If you would like to know more about the Quality Mark or are interested in applying for the Quality Mark email

  • Core Skills & Knowledge Framework for Dementia

    Skills for Health, in conjunction with partners, are developing a Core Skills & Knowledge Framework for Dementia. The project is focused on workforce development, specific toimplementation of the National Dementia Strategy, the Prime Ministerial Challenge and HEE Mandate.

    The development of a Core Skills & Knowledge Framework will help to achieve these aims by supporting the development and delivery of appropriate and consistent training for three levels of the healthcare workforce.

    Use of the framework wil lengender consistency and ensure greater accuracy in the delivery of dementia training across the health and social care sector

    SfH is also developing an e learning package “Stand by Me” to be used as an educational tool to raise awareness of Dementia

    Skills for Health have also worked with employers to develop new roles to deliver more appropriate dementia services including:

    Nursing Assistant (Enhanced Skills in Dementia Care)

    Well Being Co-ordinator

  • Dementia Awareness for GP Practices/Pharmacies/CCGs

     Dementia Awareness for GP Practices/Pharmacies/CCGs

    Develop a package of support to be piloted within two CCG areas hosting sites of the HEE/NAPC Dementia Navigator training programme, seeking to create a CCG-wide synergy resulting in raised awareness of the Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia, common messages regarding dementia harnessing the power of advertising and repetition and primary care staff that can bring the Common Core Principles to life.

    It will include the design of a resource pack for communication about Dementia and the Common Core Principles for use within GP practices. 

    SfH will support and maintain the Core skills Framework and e learning for Dementia

    Initial Scoping
  • The West Midlands Dementia Innovation Project

    The West Midlands Dementia  Innovation Project is working with healthcare providers, service users, families and carers across the region to address the learning needs of those working with people with dementia. 

    The aim of the project to ensure that the workforce has the right knowledge, skills and behaviours to deliver the best possible services in the right way to meet the individual needs of people with dementia and their families and carers .

    The project started with the development of a "Dementia Service Pathway", which outlines the patient journey: and an "I Story" Pathway, which provides us with an understanding of what people who use dementia services expect and need on their journey. These frameworks were developed specifically to support regional workforce development and learning and development approaches.

    There a number of additional element to the project including:

    • developing a competency  framework, which will identify the skills and knowledge needed to deliver best practice
    • utilising the  competency framework to develop new role templates to assist with ongoing workforce design
    • undertaking a learning needs analysis across the existing workforce to identify any  gaps in current skill levels
    • identifying learning and development opportunities and programmes to meet gaps.
    Being implemented