How do we develop effective leadership for dementia care services?
Continuous Quality Improvement in services is a fundamental element in the provision of care for people with dementia. The pursuit of evidence based practice located in a person centred approach remains at the forefront of our aspirations. However, such aspirations will remain out of our grasp without consideration of an essential cog in the wheel - namely strong clinical leadership.
It has been suggested that this is probably the hardest of all roles in embedding an improvement culture, as clinical leaders need to balance attention and demands from the current system, whilst supporting the transition to new ways of operating.
So- how can this be achieved? Historically, emphasis has been placed on management styles and strategies, but there is a difference between management and leadership. Arguably, health and social care systems are over-managed and under-led. Rather than authority being assigned and legitimised by virtue of a title (and experience), leaders need to have the capacity to influence others, be inspirational and be able to articulate their vision so as to bring others to a place they would not have been otherwise.
Effective leadership depends on an honest appraisal of your own strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style. By developing an awareness of how your actions affect others, how different situations demand different approaches, and expanding your personal repertoire of leadership strategies you will become a more confident and effective leader. As individuals we need to develop our self-awareness as to how our own leadership style and activities align with the ideal type. For this we can consider tools and techniques which facilitate this, including feedback and self-assessment.
From a consideration of self we need to move to a consideration of others and give thought to how to maximise the potential of the team we lead. Understanding the differences in team roles and their variety can help us to work more effectively with others to promote positive outcomes. Motivating others is an important skill that is also addressed including analysis of a broader definition of labour encompassing aspects such as ownership, identity and pride in the workforce.
Eventual movement from one place to another, improved, place is the desired outcome and an understanding the processes involved in change is an essential pre-requisite to bringing about successful change.
As John Donne once wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself” highlighting the important point that we do not fully thrive when isolated from others.
DSDC’s new two day programme, Effective Leadership for Dementia Care Services, addresses the important topic of leadership and dementia care. Aimed at Front-line Leaders (e.g. Ward Managers, Supervisors, Team Leaders, Shift Leaders) and Operational Leaders (e.g. Registered Managers, and Service Managers), the two day course explores a range of relevant information aimed at assisting you to develop your leadership skills will help you identify what characterises good leadership and its associated traits and behaviours.
The course provides an important opportunity to network within and beyond dementia communities, including the potential to liaise with and gain support from other likeminded people who have undertaken this programme of development.
We look forward to welcoming you to be part of this exciting project in developing today’s leaders in the promotion of more effective dementia care services.
Dr Kevin Hope is an independent nurse consultant and Honorary Professor at the University of Stirling. He is a registered nurse having worked in general, mental health and older persons care. Kevin is an experienced educator with a track record of success in supporting and supervising health care students towards professional registration, graduation and post graduate awards. He was responsible for the development, delivery and management of a post graduate Master’s Degree in Dementia Care which had, as part of its remit, the development of future leaders in the field.
Additionally, he was part of the team who successfully tendered for and delivered an educational programme and learning resources to support early Interventions for people receiving a diagnosis of Dementia across Scotland.
His current role sees him working alongside staff at the Dementia Services Development Centre addressing dementia awareness and skill development in the workforce across all sectors as well as advancing positive models of leadership that promote effective dementia care.