Exploring the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of people with dementia
evidence and practice    

Exploring the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of people with dementia

Roberta Attard Practice Nurse, Dementia Intervention Team, Active Ageing and Community Care, Qormi, Malta
Roberta Sammut Senior Lecturer and Dean, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
Anthony Scerri Lecturer, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta

Why you should read this article
  • To understand the current level of knowledge of those caring for people with dementia

  • To enhance your understanding of the perceived learning needs of nurses who care for people with dementia

  • To reflect on your own learning needs with regard to caring for people with dementia

Background An appropriate level of knowledge, a positive attitude and awareness of learning needs are essential to provide high-quality care to people living with dementia.

Aim To explore the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of residents living with dementia in one long-term care facility.

Method Questionnaires were sent to nurses and nursing assistants working in one long-term care facility in Malta. A total of 207 completed responses were received from these formal carers. The questionnaire comprised scales: the Alzheimer’s Disease Knowledge Scale, the Dementia Attitude Scale and the Dementia Learning Needs Assessment tool.

Results Formal carers’ knowledge about dementia was satisfactory. Increased knowledge was associated with being a nurse and working on a specialist dementia unit. Overall, formal carers’ attitudes towards people with dementia were positive. Nurses identified managing behaviour that challenges as the most important learning need, while for nursing assistants it was how to assist family caregivers in coping with Alzheimer’s disease. Nurses and nursing assistants considered learning about the use of technology to be the least important learning need. Being a nurse and working in a specialist dementia unit were predictors of better knowledge. Working in specialist dementia units was also a predictor of positive attitudes towards people with dementia.

Conclusion Policymakers should be aware that continued investment in specialist dementia units should be an intermediate and long-term goal because of the projected increase in the number of people living with dementia and the need to ensure these individuals receive optimum care.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1225

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

roberta.sammut@um.edu.mt

Conflict of interest

None declared

Attard R, Sammut R, Scerri A (2020) Exploring the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of people with dementia. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1225

Published online: 05 February 2020