1 Introduction to Parkinson’s

1.1 Introduction

Health and social care professionals from various professions will be taking this course. We will therefore use the word ‘client’ to refer to a person with Parkinson’s that you work with. You may usually use ‘patient’, ‘resident’ or another term.

How to study the course

In this course, you will work online at a pace that suits you. You can study it on your own and in your own time. However, if you are in a workplace, you can also use the course as an opportunity to connect with your peers and as a framework to support group work with colleagues.

Our approach

We take a person-centred approach to care. Person-centred care means focusing on someone’s needs as an individual and recognising that their life is not defined by Parkinson’s.

People with Parkinson’s and their carers (if they have one) are experts in their own condition and should be consulted on what they think their needs are. Anyone involved in the care of a person with Parkinson’s should help them to focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.

In this section we look at the following questions:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is parkinsonism?
  • What is Parkinson’s?
  • What causes Parkinson’s?
  • How many people have Parkinson’s?
  • How old are people when they get Parkinson’s?
  • How is Parkinson’s diagnosed?
  • How does Parkinson’s progress?

As you work through the course, think about not only your role but also that of other professionals.

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Fiona Barrett
Hello, I’m Fiona Barrett. I’m the education programme manager for Parkinson’s UK, and I’m delighted to welcome you to the Understanding Parkinson’s online programme. This programme has been designed for all levels of health and social care professionals working with people with Parkinson’s and I hope you find it useful. The course itself is designed around a series of sections where we look at different aspects of Parkinson’s.
Starting with the first session, this is a general overview, so we’ll be looking at what is Parkinson’s? What’s the impact of living with Parkinson’s? And we’ll be able to look at that from a number of different perspectives.
We’ll hear from a person living with the condition. We’ll hear from carers and family members of people who live with Parkinson’s and lastly we’ll hear from professionals who are involved in the care of people with Parkinson’s. Most importantly in this first section, you’ll begin to identify where your role is in supporting people with Parkinson’s.
There will be a number of reasons why you’ve chosen to take up this learning opportunity. Perhaps some of you have been directed here by work. Perhaps some of you have come across our marketing material and perhaps some of you have just stumbled across this. Whatever the reason, I sincerely hope that there’s something here that will help you in your work role.
The course has been designed to help you to confirm what good practice is happening around you in the workplace at the moment, help you to identify best practice and where this can be introduced in your own work environment, and it gives you space to reflect on what your previous experiences, both positive and negative, of working with people with Parkinson’s. And space to reflect on the learning and to think about what changes you might now make because of that learning. So what do we cover in this first session?
We will look specifically at what Parkinson’s is and what causes Parkinson’s to develop, and there are many reasons for this, not all of which we know. We don’t have the answers to everything at the moment, however we will look at this in some detail. We will also look at the range of conditions that present within Parkinsonism, and we’ll look at what we refer to as the key motor and non-motor symptoms.
You will know, no doubt, that Parkinson’s is considered to be a movement disorder, but for many people living with the condition, what we refer to as the non-motor symptoms are actually much more impactful on their quality of life than those visible motor symptoms. At present count, I think we’re looking at 36 non-motor symptoms, and most people will experience around about half a dozen of these in the journey with their Parkinson’s. So we’ll look at these in detail and look at how you can support people to manage these particular symptoms.
In this section, we’ll also look at the age of onset, or the most common age of onset. We’ll also look at the progression of Parkinson’s, how long does it take for the condition to progress? And we’ll look at what we call the key phases of Parkinson’s. But most importantly, what we’ll be looking at in this section is what does person-centered care mean for an individual living with Parkinson’s? We use this term a lot in our workplaces, but what does that mean for you? How do you deliver person-centered care to a person with Parkinson’s?
Claire Hewitt
Before you start this course, it’s important to think about how you will learn online and how you’ll progress through the course. This may be your first-ever online course, or you may have undertaken a number before. You can either download this course and use it on an appropriate mobile device, or you can work through it online.
As you work through the course, there will be a quiz at the end of each section, testing what you’ve learned in that section. And then at the end of the course there will be a final quiz which will be a review of all the sections and what you’ve learned. Once you’ve completed those quizzes, you will be able to earn a digital badge, and this demonstrates what you’ve learned in the course. Also, as you work through the course, there will be some reflective exercises. These are really important so that you can think about your practice in the past and reflect on what you might be able to do in the future to improve your practice. Enjoy the course.
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You can download this resource and view it offline. It may be useful as part of a group activity.

Learning outcomes

The purpose of this section is to give you an understanding of the common symptoms of Parkinson’s and how the condition progresses.

By the end of this section you should be able to identify and describe the following:

  • the range of common conditions in which symptoms of parkinsonism may be experienced
  • what Parkinson’s is and what causes the condition to develop
  • the key motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s
  • the average age of onset of Parkinson’s
  • the typical phases and timeframe of the progression of Parkinson’s.

1.2 Why are we here?