Transforming the capability of the dementia workforce


Dementia Australia - Chief Executive Officer

Last updated on 13 October 2022

Maree McCabe AM, CEO of Dementia Australia, wants to see broader dementia training across the whole aged care workforce. [Source: iStock]

Opinion – “The Final Report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety stated “dementia care should be core business for aged care services, and particularly residential aged care services”.

Whilst acknowledging the broader workforce pressures affecting the sector, Dementia Australia maintains that education needs to be embedded in the solutions being explored for the current aged care workforce crisis, as well as considered a vital long-term solution.

We know dementia education leads to fewer high-risk incidents, lower rates of inappropriate use of medication and more positive staff attitudes and morale, which ultimately results in better service delivery and quality of life for people living with dementia.

When people living with dementia receive care from professionals that have completed dementia education, fewer incidences of changed behaviour are experienced.

All registered nurses, all new care staff and all those currently working in the aged care system must have a minimum level of dementia care education, as recommended by the Royal Commission.

This is critical to delivering the impact needed to raise the quality of care for people living with dementia.

Dementia prevalence in residential aged care is significant. We know an estimated two-thirds of Australian aged care residents have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.

With this high prevalence, the ability to deliver high-quality dementia care must be fundamental to residential aged care operations.

Quality dementia care must be top of the agenda for every plan, framework, strategy and review of the aged care system reform process including residential, home and community care.

It’s not just Government that needs to implement change. We need to see a commitment to quality dementia care from Boards, directors and governance committees across the aged care, disability and healthcare sectors by addressing dementia as an ongoing priority.

The sooner the whole aged care workforce is accessing appropriate dementia care education and training, the sooner we will begin to see the changes needed to improve the health, lifestyle and care outcomes for people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers.

In the short-term, upskilling the current workforce using existing tools such as the Ask Annie mobile learning app and the Government funded Dementia Essentials course will begin to alleviate some of the pressures and challenges of caring for someone living with dementia.

Dementia Australia has continued to reinforce the need for compulsory dementia education in the three and a half years since the Royal Commission began.

People living with dementia, their families and carers have told us what they need, and Dementia Australia is committed to supporting the industry in that transformation such that it elevates the quality of care and support for people impacted by dementia.

We know from our work and broad consultation with people living with dementia, their families and carers, that if we get quality care right for people living with dementia then there will be quality care for all.”

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