Linda Schnitker

The development and evaluation of an educational program for the care of older people with dementia in emergency departments

Linda Schnitker
2015 AADRF Project Grant
Project Snapshot

Outcomes from this project will contribute to improving the way older people with dementia are cared for in emergency departments (ED). It will enable translating available evidence into clinical practice by developing adaptable educational programs for ED staff. We will work closely with experts - people living with dementia and carers and health care professional in emergency medicine and nursing, and dementia care- to develop this program by reviewing the literature and using experts’ ED clinical experiences. The program will enable older people with dementia presenting to EDs to receive guideline-supported care and improved health outcomes. For example, this educational intervention will ensure that people with dementia are screened for delirium and properly assessed for pain (so that pain is identified and managed) in ED. Finally the educational program’s implementation in two Australian EDs will occur. Feedback gathered from attendees will be used to further improve the program.

Detailed Project Summary

Research shows that the quality of care provided to older people, including those with dementia, in emergency departments (ED) is suboptimal. This project will develop and pilot test an education program – the Geriatric ED Dementia Care (GED-DC) training program - to improve the care of older people with dementia in ED. The project will include two studies: Study 1 will develop the training program and Study 2 will evaluate the training in clinical practice. Study 1 has three phases. In Phase One, the needs of Australian EDs to improve the care quality and outcomes of older people with dementia will be explored. Phase Two includes gaining a full understanding of the specific details and implementation process of a geriatric ED training program developed and pilot tested in the USA. Ultimately in Phase Three an Australian geriatric ED training program will be developed in consultation with dementia and emergency care experts, people with dementia and carers, researchers, and curriculum developers. Then the program will be tested in two EDs. The resulting GED-DC training program will enable more effective and responsive care of older people with dementia in EDs, which may improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population and their carers.

Publications and Presentations resulting from award
Where are they now?

Dr Linda Schnitker is based at The Dementia Collaborative Research Centre: Carers and Consumers, School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology.