Learning lessons from dementia workforce education to develop general hospital dementia change agents for the future: a constructivist grounded theory study

Anna Jack-Waugh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In recognition of the often poor experience of people living with dementia in general hospitals and the lack of dementia curricular content for health and social care professionals, the Scottish Government commissioned a dementia workforce development programme (Dementia Champions) for qualified health and social care professionals in 2011. This constructivist grounded theory study aimed to construct a theory of the learning experienced by the dementia champions before, during and after the programme. The reported experience of change in the champions' professional and personal perspectives about people with dementia was the focus of this study. The findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the long-term negative impact of knowledge and skills gaps in dementia education and on people living with dementia and health and social care professionals. This negative impact has implications for individual professionals, service leaders and health and social care systems internationally. Data was co-produced through intensive interviewing, a focus group and email interviewing with nineteen Dementia Champions. Construction of the theory emerged from direct engagement with the data using the constructivist grounded theory approach. The findings illuminate how, before the programme, professionals were educated, socialised and defined to fail people with dementia. On the programme, multiple learning interventions in which interacting with the lived experience of people living with dementia, their families and colleagues became the stimulators of change. These learning interventions stimulated a disrupted self-definition and actions to resolve this disruption. Once the self-definition was restored, the participants faced the complexity of working with people living with dementia with passion, pride and new thinking. These findings further illuminate the importance of expert facilitation and the inclusion of people with dementia and their families as peer educators in health and social care dementia education. Further research on the negative outcomes of gaps in initial professional education is important.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-663
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Early online date8 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023


  • dementia
  • education
  • workforce
  • general hospital
  • nurses
  • allied health professionals
  • leadership
  • training


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