Government and providers urged to collaborate more on dementia education

Published on 13 June 2024

Does the aged care sector have a learning culture problem? That’s a key question Isabelle Meyer, Executive Director, Dementia Training Australia presented to providers following her appearance at this year’s National Dementia Conference in Melbourne.

Ms Meyer shared her thoughts on how Quality Care requires Quality Training in her presentation, before talking to hello leaders about the learning challenges many providers say they face.

This comes after one provider in the audience mentioned the roadblocks to obtaining training, for example, paying staff to attend training while also paying additional wages for workers to cover shifts on-site or risk missing out on meeting care minute totals. 

The potential for relevant training to go towards care minute requirements was also mentioned as a way for the Government to provide more support to providers. 

“The Commonwealth Government has provided an incredibly generous, long-standing program of developing education that can help people meet the requirements of care minutes,” Ms Meyer told hello leaders.

“It’s up to organisations to prioritise training and education. It’s up to organisations to allocate resources and consider that a learning culture will help them mitigate risk, it will help them deliver care and it will help them meet their registration and accreditation requirements. 

Ms Meyer added that it’s clear providers and their workforces are under a lot of pressure because there are not enough nurses or healthcare professionals across the entire healthcare system. 

“I genuinely don’t believe that money is the issue here. It’s a long-standing challenge that the Government and providers need to work together because unless we increase the capacity of the workforce, the amount of capability we can build by having excellent training offerings is going to be diminished,” she added.

“I know providers struggle to roster people off to attend training. I also know there are a lot of health professionals who do their training in their own time because they want to be good at what they do. That’s to be applauded. 

“This is a journey we are all on together and I don’t think this is about money. I think it’s about ‘Do we have a learning culture’ in the health sector?”

Dementia Training Australia has been incredibly active in recent months, developing and launching several new resources for aged care providers and professionals. 

This includes Learning Pathways, a navigation tool that will help individuals search for and find the right training for their career goals. Organisations can also use it to put together training packages for their staff. Direct support is available from DTA training consultants. 

Another tool being launched in July is their National Education Standards Framework. The Department of Health and Aged Care commissioned the development of the Standards Framework to improve the consistency and quality of dementia education and training at various educational levels. 

“The Standards Framework works through 14 domains and four tiers within those domains to give you a sense of the skills and knowledge you need when you’re supporting someone living with dementia,” Ms Meyer said.

“It will give you your development journey professionally and personally and the confidence to know ‘I can do this but I might need some additional training coaching or mentoring before I can do this’.”

DTA also worked with Dementia Australia to develop and deliver their latest virtual reality training tool, D-Esc.

These new tools, in addition to their existing offerings, are an essential step towards increasing the capacity of the aged and healthcare workforce. Ms Meyer said they regularly hear from participants who want training that expands their confidence, not just their knowledge.

She said providers who embrace a learning culture will see positive outcomes for attraction and retention.

“We know from the feedback we get that being able to access training makes workers feel valued. A lot of our learners say what they’re looking for is not just to learn new skills or improve their knowledge. They’re looking to develop confidence and that can only come if they have access to mentoring support, which we also offer, and consistent access to training,” she said.

“Valuing training will improve workforce attraction and retention. It will improve the quality of care that we can deliver especially for people living with dementia but also across the whole of the aged care sector.”

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Isabelle Meyer
National Dementia Conference