Dementia diseases increasingly challenge people and societies across the world, due to the risks of social isolation, economic challenges, and impact on family life. However, this challenge is not just felt and borne by the people with dementia, but also by their friends and families. People with dementia need extra care – and their carers call for more development of knowledge and attention about the challenge before them, about dementia, but also personally in the role as carer.
Being a carer can be a professional choice – often involving training on practical and mental issues and theoretical understandings, that one would face as a professional career. But informal carers are often left with little or no formal training to rely on – and a huge emotional challenge by their direct relation in addition to the challenge of simply being able to maintain a somewhat normal life also.
The Dem@entoring project tries to support these informal carers in three ways – by learning about dementia itself, by learning how to manage the role of being an informal carer and by learning about how to share these experiences with other informal carers.
The Dem@entoring tool
The Dem@entoring tool is an online platform that offers an education and training program. The aim of the program is to provide carers with specific knowledge and skills and to create and train dementia carers as e-mentors to provide mentoring to other carers in the set of peer support groups. The Mentors will be trained on how to deal with the practical and psychological burden of dementia. This training program will focus on carers’ needs providing all the necessary information about dementia symptoms, progression and available treatments, specific skills enabling them to effectively cope with issues related to dementia, training in the management of the physical, psychological and financial burden of dementia.
In addition, Mentors will be trained in mentoring skills to provide their knowledge and experience to other carers – mentees – through the online platform. By joining a dementia support group, Mentees will have the chance to meet and get to know others who are going through the same experiences. They will have the opportunity to discuss topics that are relevant to their situation. They will learn more about dementia and how to cope with caring and finally, they will be part of a peer support group (network) with people sharing common experiences.
An adult learning and education approach have been applied, addressing health and wellbeing to enhance an understanding of dementia for these informal carers and allow them to efficiently cope with the dementia symptoms, jointly raise awareness, and decrease stigmatization. The e-mentoring training program is being implemented in different EU-countries.
What does this guide do?
The Mentoring Relationship Cycle is a guide on how to use the Dem@entoring tool in your organisation. The model takes you through a series of steps that can improve your planning, uptake, and impact of activities, initiatives, and reporting.
The overall aim is not only to create an impact but also to have a circular approach, to reuse and include experiences within your organisation. By applying these steps, continued development across the community of stakeholders and users can be enhanced.
Following the steps, you will have designed a strategy, the necessary templates and tools to be used, created the basis of the necessary cooperation and networking structures, but also a list or database of collaborators and trainers to cooperate with.