Swift action on aged care workforce welcomed with calls for dementia education as a priority

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Dementia Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s swift action in prioritising aged care in the first week of the new parliament.

Maree McCabe AM, CEO Dementia Australia said we are looking forward to working with the Albanese government to implement these and other measures that support dementia including targeted education.

“Dementia education is a priority and needs to be embedded of the urgent solutions to the current aged care workforce crisis and as a long-term solution,” Ms McCabe said.

“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 almost 18 months ago.

“This is critical to deliver the impact needed to raise the quality of care for all those living with dementia.”

The pandemic continues to present workforce challenges across every sector, Dementia Australia has recommended a number of short, medium and long-term solutions to the new Federal Government.

These include encouraging all care workers to download the Ask Annie app. The first three introductory modules are free and include 22 lessons with information and strategies at their fingertips to empower care workers to better support people living with dementia.

“We invite all staff at all levels in health and aged care to call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 whenever they are seeking further information, support and strategies to better care for someone living with dementia in their care. This service is also accessible via webchat and email at https://www.dementia.org.au/helpline,” Ms McCabe said.

“We know 70 per cent of people in residential aged care have moderate to severe cognitive impairment and we know 65 per cent of the almost half a million Australians with dementia are living in the community.

“People living with dementia deserve to receive quality dementia care by appropriately trained staff – even in the midst of the pandemic.”

In the position statement, Dementia Education and the Residential Aged Care Workforce, released in May 2022, Dementia Australia further explores the aged care workforce solutions recommendations that have been presented and discussed with the new Federal Government.

The statement provides evidence that when people living with dementia receive care from professionals that have completed dementia education fewer incidences of changed behaviour are experienced.

“Dementia education leads to fewer high-risk incidents, lower rates of medication administration and more positive staff attitudes and morale, which ultimately results in better service delivery and quality of life for people living with dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

“We know through multiple surveys of the aged care workforce that aged care staff want ongoing, comprehensive dementia education,” Ms McCabe said.

“The new Federal Government has demonstrated their commitment to tackle aged care reform.

“We will work with government to build the capacity of our workforce to better support people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“We look forward to working together to make a difference to the lives of every Australian impacted by dementia.”

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: Andrea Hogan, Media and Communications Advisor, 0482 167 924, Andrea.Hogan@dementia.org.au – Christine Bolt, National GM Communications, Corporate Communications, 0400 004 553, Christine.Bolt@dementia.org.au

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