Improving care for people with Parkinson’s through learning

Fiona Barrett is the Education Programme Manager at Parkinson’s UK. The charity works alongside health and care professionals in the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network to provide resources and learning to drive improvements in the care of people with Parkinson’s. (500 words)

With the recent publication of the updated Parkinson’s NICE guideline and quality standard, it’s a great time to highlight some of the learning we provide to help health and social care professionals improve the quality of care they offer to people with Parkinson’s.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a progressive, fluctuating neurological condition, which affects all aspects of daily living including talking, swallowing and writing. Around 145,000 people across the UK have Parkinson’s, and we estimate 18,400 people aged 45 or over in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018.

People with Parkinson’s often find it hard to move freely. Other possible difficulties include pain, depression, dementia, hallucinations, and continence problems. The severity of symptoms can fluctuate from day to day and people can experience rapid changes in functionality in the course of the day. There is no cure.

A variety of learning opportunities 

The UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network works in collaboration with clinicians across the network, as well as academics and people affected by Parkinson’s, to develop a varied learning programme for all health and social care professionals.

We offer a variety of online resources, from bite sized programmes to more in depth courses. They range from those aimed at staff with no experience of Parkinson’s to those who have some knowledge of the condition.

We also offer two train the trainer programmes and Parkinson’s study days. To find out more about these learning opportunities visit the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network learning directory.

Bite sized learning

A 20-minute narrated presentation that can be quickly viewed by staff gives a short but effective introduction to caring for a resident with Parkinson’s. This is very relevant to people working in care homes as the focus is on support for residents.

A similar approach was adopted in 2017 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where all staff who have contact with someone with Parkinson’s in the hospital (admin as well as clinical staff) were asked to view a 15-minute introduction to Parkinson’s for hospital staff presentation to ensure they have a good basic understanding of the condition.

If you would like to discuss using these resources or how you can embed them into your existing learning platforms, please contact us at

New pathways

In March we launched the first Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist learning pathway. This  provides a gateway to learning that has been mapped to the Parkinson’s Nurse Competency Framework and will make it easy for Parkinson’s nurses to identify and access relevant learning, whatever stage of their career.

And this summer we’ll be launching the first Allied Health Professional learning pathways for occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists. These resources will initially be tailored to support learning around six themes for each therapy profession.

Getting involved with the network

Visit our website to access our resources and find out more about our learning, or to find out how you can join the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network. Working together we can improve care for people with Parkinson’s.

Fiona Barrett is the Education Programme Manager at Parkinson’s UK.