Dementia training has a new format. Microlearning sessions are intended to allow users to learn at their own pace, while building on and reviewing material from previous sessions. The intervals between sessions help to boost to retention. A study that received the 2021 Gold Innovative Research on Aging Award tested the effectiveness of a dementia-focused microlearning intervention among nursing home staff.
The study included 250 staff members from 10 nursing homes who participated in the microlearning intervention. The intervention consisted of 52 weekly sessions, delivered by an online learning system that participants were able to access at their convenience. Each session was about six minutes long and presented content from one of five topic areas, followed by a two-question quiz.
The researchers assessed the quality of the intervention with pre- and post-dementia attitude and job satisfaction surveys, focus group sessions, and exit interviews with managers. Survey results showed that participants’ attitudes toward dementia significantly improved, such as enjoying and being more confident about interactions with people living with dementia, and interpreting difficult behaviors more positively. Participants also reported higher job satisfaction.
One theme of the focus group findings was that the short format made the learning sessions enjoyable and easy to remember. Participants also liked how what they learned was directly applicable to real-world scenarios. Managers found microlearning to be useful and saw improved learning among their teams. They even found new ways to utilize the short sessions, such as in team huddles to discuss best practices for handling a particular issue.
While microlearning is not anything new, it has been underutilized in senior living. The ease-of-access of the training allowed staff to complete the weekly sessions whenever their busy schedules allowed, and on any device. Beyond that, the training was effective in enhancing dementia attitudes and boosting job satisfaction. The study did not include a comparison to staff completing their standard training, but microlearning appeared to be a feasible method of training for nursing staff.
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Inker J, Jensen C, Barsness S, and Stewart MM. Implementing microlearning in nursing homes: Implications for policy and practice in person-centered dementia care. Journal of Applied Gerontology (2020);40(9):1062-1070.