Apr 06, 2022

Ask Annie: A mobile mentor for aged care workers

Dementia Aus Ask Annie app hero image
Nikki Cartisano, aged care support worker, CO.AS.IT, using the Ask Annie app. Image: Supplied.

Workers who support people living with dementia are particularly vulnerable, as clients with this condition often express their unmet needs through behaviours – some of them challenging to manage.

It can be hard to always know what best practice care looks like on the frontline, especially for support workers who are new to their role. Having somewhere to turn to for insight goes a long way towards building confidence and a sense of assurance on the job.

A dementia mentor at your fingertips

One innovative solution addressing this need is Ask Annie – a new smartphone app to support workers in providing quality care to people living with dementia.

The app has been developed by Dementia Australia and Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute, in collaboration with Australian community care workers, and is suitable for both individual use and organisations.

Designed for straightforward learning while on the go, it offers short, self-paced learning modules supported by videos, searchable topics, easy-to-read summaries, and interactive quizzes that help support workers apply their new understanding.

Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe, said, “Ask Annie is an absolute breakthrough in learning. And it’s about micro-learning. It’s about accessibility. And one of the things that is so fantastic about this app, it is self-paced, it is for home and community care workers, and often in that environment, it is difficult for care workers to get access to information. Ask Annie is also now available for residential aged care workers.

In a bid to support the care industry, particularly during the pandemic, three modules in the Ask Annie app – The Key Ingredients, Key Concepts, and ‘C’ For Communication ­– will be accessible to help both HACC (Home and Community Care) and RAC (Residential Aged Care) workers with the difficult conditions they are currently experiencing. The Communication module is part of the CAUSEd problem-solving tool.

Jacqui Simao, Workforce Manager at BlueCross, who deployed Ask Annie across the organisation’s support workers and community carers as part of the app’s trial, said it is a “game changer” in aged care training.

“The feedback we’ve had from our staff about Ask Annie has been overwhelmingly positive. They find it really easy to navigate, easy to understand, and the content is very relevant to their work,” she said.

The importance of relevant training

Aside from a convenient learning format, Ask Annie also equips aged care workers with highly relatable dementia-specific learning that is directly applicable to their care.

According to Dementia Australia, the app promotes a person-centred approach, which focuses on putting the individual’s needs and wants at the forefront of every interaction.

Ask Annie also helps aged care workers understand how people living with dementia may be attempting to communicate their unmet needs through changes in behaviour . It brings common scenarios to life and offers tips based on best practice care – like the kind of advice you would receive from a mentor on the job.

“It is best practice, but it presents that information in real-life scenarios that are highly relatable,” said Ms Simao.

“Carers will be able to very easily recognise [that] these are the things they experience with their clients, or things that their clients [are] experiencing. Because it’s so relatable, they can take that information and apply it directly to the care they’re delivering.”

Ultimately, this equips aged care workers with the support they need to confidently deliver positive outcomes for their clients – in an enjoyable way.

Dionne Lewis, a personal carer at BlueCross, added that the app is also “really fun” to use.

“This is the first thing that’s come along, apart from our regular training, that addresses the issues that we face so accurately, and it’s so easy to use,” said Ms Lewis.

“If I had the time during a shift to quickly look at it, I could see myself doing that. But I could see myself using it regularly between shifts, because it just updates your skills as you go every day. I would highly recommend it to everybody because it’s fun, immersive, and very, very intelligent.”

 

In a bid to support the care industry, three modules in the Ask Annie app – The Key Ingredients, Key Concepts, and ‘C’ For Communication ­– will be now accessible to help support both HACC (Home and Community Care) and RAC (Residential Aged Care) workers during this difficult time. The Communication module is part of the CAUSEd problem-solving tool. For more information, visit the Dementia Australia website.

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