People living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable in community. Prolonged periods of isolation during the pandemic has exacerbated symptoms of those with dementia. Emotional and physical support provided by care partners has been lacking.
Maree McCabe AM, CEO of Dementia Australia, talked to Re Aged Care , about the aged care sector being under pressure before the pandemic and especially during it. A number of initiatives and policy improvements have recently occurred.
In October 2021, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) adopted the essential visitor protocol for visitor access to residential aged care facilities (RACF). This stated people in residential care should be allowed to take advantage of reduced restrictions and participate in activities outside the RACF such as outdoor exercise and visitation with friends and family.
According to Dementia Australia, having quality dementia care is integral to ensuring mandatory dementia education is available. Dementia Training Australia delivers a 3 days Dementia Essentials course focuses on good communication, planning, developing appropriate activities, observation skills and understanding how changed behaviour can impact the way they respond and their overall wellbeing.
Dementia Australia has developed a Dementia Practice Health Check. aligned with the existing Aged Care Standards. As a self assessment tool it’s split into 3 modules; a manager survey, staff online survey and delivery of a health check report with recommendations for staff training.
In February 2022, the Parliamentary Friends of Dementia, a Dementia Australia initiative, commenced to raise awareness among Members of Parliament about issues that impact people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers.
The event gave opportunity to discuss the workforce and need for mandatory training.
Looking at the priorities of day to day dementia care, the Dementia Learning Guide has been updated and re-released at the start of 2022. The guide provides best practice knowledge to improve staff morale, reduce staff turnover, raise fewer complaints, better consumer confidence and more importantly in improving care.
The aim for the guide is to develop a workforce that is empowered and feels supported caring for people with dementia, to ultimately lead to improvements in the levels of dementia care.