21 May 2015

The future of dementia care in Australia - Part Two

Author :

Last week we brought you part one of our interview with Helga Merl, in part two Helga has shared her thoughts on educating those caring for people living with dementia. With approximately 1.2 million* Australians being involved in caring for a person living with dementia the support and education of carers is of the upmost importance.

Do you have three tips for those looking to educate staff on optimal dementia care?

We know that staff find it challenging to work with people living with dementia. We also know that staff identify that education would enable them to provide better care. I held some consultations recently with community care staff and one comment encapsulates what staff want from education “We are sick of being well-meaning. We want to know what we are doing”. 

My three tips.

1.       Understanding that dementia and the symptoms of dementia are caused by progressive damage to the brain. It’s not obvious, from the outside that progressive brain disease is occurring in the individual living with dementia. There is no red light flashing to say that brain is affected. Connecting symptoms such as memory loss to parts of the brain that are affected by irreversible damage empowers staff to understand the underlying disease and anticipate need. 

2.       Person Centred Care principles remain core to all staff education. Understanding the person, knowing their history, what they have achieved and what brings them joy. Knowing the person enables staff to work with an individual not a disease.

3.      My last tip would have to be, educating staff in unmet needs as a model to understand and manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. When staff are trained to identify the possible needs the person living with dementia is trying to communicate through behaviour everybody wins in terms of staff being able to address the persons need and ameliorate the behaviour.

What are the key elements of caring for someone with dementia?

Caring for people living with dementia requires more than being well-meaning, it requires attention to a few key elements including good dementia design principles. Hospitals, health facilities, residential aged care facilities and day centres are moving toward incorporating good dementia design principles into all stages of building and refurbishments. Public spaces, places and communities can also apply these principles knowing that a dementia and aged friendly environment will support and promote access to all segments of our community.

Other key elements include building staff capacity through education, training and clinical leadership. We have a Nurse Practitioner Aged Care Dementia at integratedliving (me) which is proving a support to all levels of staff, particularly the senior clinicians in leading  dementia care.

Finally is building organisational capacity for dementia care through including the voice of dementia at the senior executive level through consumer advisors or access to consumer group input, investment into senior leadership/clinical roles, such as my own and consideration and incorporation of dementia into strategic planning, policy and guideline development. 

Helga has created a great basis for discussion, do you have any other thoughts?

Statistics courtesy of Alzheimer’s Australia 

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field. 

1 comment :

  1. My mom is starting to lose some memory control. More and more she forgets to eat and other personal care things like that. It would be ideal to help her get into a facility that can structure a routine for her.