23 March 2016

How to build capacity for dementia care

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Improving outcomes for people living with dementia is a key priority across Australia for aged care providers, healthcare, and government.

Dementia care is core business for aged care providers, as the number of people living with dementia and the complexity of cases increases, the delivery of integrated and responsive care will also become progressively difficult.

To make it really sink in, Alzheimer’s Australia provides us with some warning statistics – one states in Australia there is a new case of dementia every 6 minutes!

Statistics show, the number of people living with dementia is significantly increasing so what can we do about it? As a medical breakthrough isn’t in the near future, aged care providers across Australia need to embed good governance structures to improve care for people living with dementia.

Both HACC and RAC providers must ensure care is being optimised and recognised that dementia care is now person centred – caring for people living with dementia needs to be about how to make their life and the lives of their family and friends more comfortable.

A few leaders from our esteemed speaker panel from Akolade’s first Dementia Strategy Summit in October 2015 share with us tips for building capacity for dementia care.

Michele Lewis, Chief Executive at mecwacare has shared her top three tips for those looking to improve the governance of dementia care:


Ensure that people of all ages are educated on the importance of Advance Care Planning and have an ACP in place. This will ensure that a person with dementia will have their wishes known and hopefully respected when they are no longer able to make informed choices.


For the person impacted by the dementia and their significant others, education regarding the process of dementia, its effects and potential impacts, particularly early onset dementia.

Options for care:

Needs to be considered. Is it appropriate for a 50 year old to be placed in a nursing home, when the family can no longer manage them at home? Perhaps there could be some guiding principles around this and how to better support individuals and their families.

Lenore de la Perrelle, Senior Manager ACH Group Dementia Learning and Development Unit at ACH Group has shared her top three tips for those looking to educate staff on optimal dementia care:

Person first:

Understanding the person, their interests, experiences and needs and how a service can be of service is the key.

Emotional engagement:

Staff need to be able to engage and respond to the emotions behind the person's responses to provide safety and trust in the relationship. This also is the case for services in how they support staff. It needs to be a consistent approach.


Walking the talk, hands on leadership showing how it is to be done and how staff can develop the skills and approaches needed to be engaged with people with dementia and their families. This needs reflective practice to be able to be aware and become better service providers.

As Dementia raises to the second leading cause of death in Australia, now is the time for medical breakthrough. Health and Aged Care facilities need to rapidly improve systems to provide better support for consumers, carers, providers, and the millions of Australian families affected.

After finishing University with a degree in Business Marketing, I decided to make a big jump across seas for the first time and move from the east coast of America to Sydney, Australia. I landed my first job in a sales position in the event industry and soon thereafter moved into a marketing assistant role – following I had the pleasure of interviewing with Akolade which got me to where I am today.

Akolade is a fun, innovative company that brings together people from different walks of life to implement change. As the Marketing Manager, I have the pleasure of wearing many hats which motivates me to succeed, reach people in an array of avenues, grow our events to their full potential, and raise our story. As for me, I am a kind dedicated woman who loves to work hard, exercise, cook, be social and have some fun.

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