‘Ask Annie’ body language tips released to enhance dementia workforce skills

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Dementia Australia is today launching the latest module in the Ask Annie app, ahead of Aged Care Employee Day on Sunday, to enhance care workers’ knowledge of how our body language can impact a person living with dementia.

The free body language module adds new content to the Ask Annie app which provides care workers with interactive, self-paced teaching modules, to refresh, strengthen and refine their skills. 

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said the new module will help care workers with positive interactions and develop trust through building their knowledge of body language and the impact body language can have.

“Good communication in dementia care is critical. Being aware of our body language, how it might be interpreted and ensuring it is as positive as possible can help people living with dementia feel at ease, build trust and connect,” Ms McCabe said.

Body language is physical behaviour which is used to communicate a person’s thoughts and intentions.
 
“Facial expressions, body posture and even the personal space you provide can make all the difference to the experience of a person living with dementia during interactions in everyday settings – whether it be when eating a meal, or supporting them to have a shower,” Ms McCabe said. 

“We’re very pleased to offer this as gifted content, in celebration of our aged care workforce.”

Dementia Advocate Bobby Redman, Chair, Dementia Australia Advisory Committee lives with dementia and says the app will be very useful in helping carers to be aware of their body language, which is so important, especially as language skills reduce. 

“It is vital to remember that our senses are impacted by dementia – vision, hearing and touch all change, and we may experience things in a very different way,” Ms Redman said.

“Please help us to cope with these changes by using clear body language to supplement what you are saying – actions speak louder than words.”

Ms McCabe said Aged Care Employee Day is an important opportunity to acknowledge the essential role care workers play, where despite the pandemic, they continue to provide care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Our clients often share stories of inclusive and creative ways residential aged care managers and teams provide care such as regularly inviting a resident known to be a night owl to join staff when they sit down to share a pizza; another when a care worker told us about a client smiling and reminiscing about being 16 again when she played her a favourite song or, when families were unable to visit, the staff encouraged them to send emails that they printed and gave to the residents to keep and read for themselves – the care worker involved said with one resident she knew the emails were kept, neatly folded in her handbag and often re-read,” Ms McCabe said.  

“We thank the aged care workforce for their professionalism, compassion, empathy, respect and the difference they make to the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers.”

The Ask Annie app content continues to grow and the new body language module joins another four gifted modules already available.

Dementia Australia is focused on adding to the educational content in Ask Annie to ensure care workers have access to new information and the opportunity to continue to expand their knowledge.

Ask Annie can be downloaded for free individually via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store with free access to five modules.

The full application with access to all modules is $60 per person per year, with multi-license packages available for organisations. For information on purchasing packages please email cdl@dementia.org.au    

Dementia Australia thanks The Lionel & Yvonne Spencer Trust and The John & Mary McAlister Howden Charitable Trust for their support in developing the new body language module. 

Ask Annie was developed by Dementia Australia with Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2),and funded by a Gandel Foundation multi-year Major grant. 

For more information, please visit dementialearning.org.au/askannie  
 
Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia, and the almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au 

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Media contacts: Cady Moshos, 0482 188 146, cady.moshos@dementia.org.au

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.