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Nurs Older People. 2020 Feb 5. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1225. [Epub ahead of print]

Exploring the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of people with dementia.

Author information

Dementia Intervention Team, Active Ageing and Community Care, Qormi, Malta.
Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.



An appropriate level of knowledge, a positive attitude and awareness of learning needs are essential to provide high-quality care to people living with dementia.


To explore the knowledge, attitudes and perceived learning needs of formal carers of residents living with dementia in one long-term care facility.


Questionnaires were sent to nurses and nursing assistants working in one long-term care facility in Malta. A total of 207 completed responses were received from these formal carers. The questionnaire comprised scales: the Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Scale, the Dementia Attitude Scale and the Dementia Learning Needs Assessment tool.


Formal carers' knowledge about dementia was satisfactory. Increased knowledge was associated with being a nurse and working on a specialist dementia unit. Overall, formal carers' attitudes towards people with dementia were positive. Nurses identified managing behaviour that challenges as the most important learning need, while for nursing assistants it was how to assist family caregivers in coping with Alzheimer's disease. Nurses and nursing assistants considered learning about the use of technology to be the least important learning need. Being a nurse and working in a specialist dementia unit were predictors of better knowledge. Working in specialist dementia units was also a predictor of positive attitudes towards people with dementia.


Policymakers should be aware that continued investment in specialist dementia units should be an intermediate and long-term goal because of the projected increase in the number of people living with dementia and the need to ensure these individuals receive optimum care.


career pathways; carers; dementia; education; healthcare assistants; neurology; patients; professional issues; research; staff attitudes; training


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