Nov 28, 2017

Promised Specialist Dementia Care Units: Government Seeks Community Input

The Government is seeking community input on how to best implement planned new Specialist Dementia Care Units (SDCUs) for people living with severe behaviours associated with advanced dementia.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the establishment of the units was an election promise and part of the Government’s comprehensive strategy for dementia care and treatment.

A Specialist Dementia Care Unit provides one-on-one care for people who experience very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and are unable to be supported in a mainstream aged care service.

This may include someone with a high level of mobility and more likely to put themselves or someone else in danger. It could also involve someone showing very severe and persistent behaviour, very severe depression, noisy outbursts, a lack of inhibition, unpredictable moods and possible suicidal tendencies.

A Specialist Dementia Care Unit provides care for people who require more support than can be provided through Severe Behaviour Response Teams or existing residential care services.

“These units will make up the third tier of the innovative plan we have been rolling out across the nation, building on the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and the Severe Behaviour Response Teams,” Minister Wyatt said.

“With an estimated 350,000 Australians already living with this condition, we understand the importance of doing everything we can to support improved dementia care, treatment and research.”

The Minister said the SDCU feedback would inform advice to Government on the final shape of the initiative, including funding and administrative options.

“We want to hear from individuals and organisations who have knowledge about or experience of dementia, especially an understanding of the needs and care for people with very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD),” said Minister Wyatt.

“This may include aged care workers, health professionals, academics, peak body representatives, policy makers, people with dementia, and their families and carers.”

Once the preferred model of care and administrative arrangements are decided by Government, there will be further targeted consultation with stakeholders on detailed implementation and transition strategies.

“It’s proposed that SDCUs could operate as small units, comprising eight to 12 beds, within larger residential aged care facilities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“They will provide a person-centred, multidisciplinary approach to care for people with very severe BPSD who are unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream aged care services.

“The units will offer specialised, transitional residential support, focussing on reducing or stabilising symptoms over time, with the aim of enabling the person to move into a less intensive care setting.“

Minister Wyatt said it was projected that around one million Australians could be affected by dementia by 2050.

“The Turnbull Government is focussed on tackling dementia, through partnerships and innovation, including a $200 million investment in world-class dementia research,” the Minister said.

“We have also implemented improved dementia care over the past two years, including consolidating a single, nationally consistent Dementia Training Program for the aged care and health workforce.”

Location of the units will be based on demographic and geographic needs, with some regions likely to require access to more than one unit. The makeup of the units will be developed in consultation with the aged care sector and dementia experts.

A key priority is to ensure people living with dementia in rural and remote locations will have access to a unit, particularly in areas which currently cannot access specialist support services.

Specialist Dementia Care units will be rolled out over the next four years across Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network regions.

Stakeholders wanting to provide feedback on the SDCU initiative can visit the Department of Health’s Consultation Hub to read the paper and make a submission. Respondents can provide input on some, or all, of the topics and questions in the consultation paper.

People encountering any difficulties using the Hub should email for assistance.

The consultation period closes on 21 January 2018.

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  1. In my opinion anti-psychotic drugs should be banned for people with Alzheimer’s especially when they use them for sleeping because they only work for a short while then they increase them adding to the confusion and then actually making these poor people psychotic paranoid and manic, I think they should be banned by the Government , if anyone wants to speak to me about the experience we have had with my husband and these vile drugs you are welcome to contact me
    Furthermore there should be more staff on at night and people suffering from dementia should be allowed to walk around rather than be drugged all the time with both or either anti-psychotics or benzodiazapans, if more funding is needed so be it, drugging them with Temazapan and Alapam ( which I know aren’t antipsychotics ) makes them more at risk of falls and are also addictive so more is needed if they are used on a regular basis.
    Lastly all staff working in these facilities should have compulsory dementia training provided free by the Government before they can work in a facility , just like a police check.
    I feel very passionate about this, these poor people being drugged up all the time, their brains are scrambled enough as it is without adding to it by chemical restraint , its time something was done about it because reading people’s testimonies , a lot of facilities put doctors under pressure to prescribe these drugs, they are too interested in profit to take on extra staff.
    God knows what goes on at night and the poor souls with dementia can’t say, they are so very vulnerable , I really feel for those who either have no family to advocate for them, or family who don’t care .

    1. May I suggest if you really want to make a difference become a residential care worker, the industry is always looking for new staff who are passionate about about aged care, staffing levels and ratios simply can’t keep pace with the number of residents being admitted with a dementia diagnosis and the associated behaviours, and what we must remember is the safety of other residents in the facilities who are entitled to be safe. This is coming from a person wth 5 years experience working with residents with a dementia diagnosis , contact your local state or federal mp and voice your concerns because we need help to improve ratios because we are fighting hard hi achieve this outcome

    2. Di Rolands, your words of wisdom are well said, you have a clear understanding of the needs of those with Dementia. The need for trained staff is well stated, however the training of the Doctors is also an issue. I have heard it stated that they are primarily trained by the Pharmaceutical Companies and have little if any training in Dementia Care. They are after all the first that we consult in the case of suspected Dementia.

  2. As a carer of my mother who has dementia and at the stage where I have to find a care home, the aged care system is terrible. If the government is really serious about supporting and caring for those with dementia they would not be asking families to fork out huge bonds, places would be at least 50% funded. $300k plus bonds are criminal.
    These people worked life times and paid taxes and deserve better care.
    More carers with extensive denentia training are desperately needed. A few in house sessons/workshops is not what I consider adequate. Some of the places are so intent in getting you in that they feel they need to sell you their business and exagerate the level of skills their workers have. One place assured me their carers had the right training to be able to handle my mother’s anxiety, I was using the place as respite, after a few days they basically told me mother could not stay as they could not manage her.

  3. Some Aged Care facilities already have secure units, however when it comes to getting a placement they want to admit the person on a respite basis to assess whether they are “suitable ” even though they claim to have staff experienced in caring for dementia patients. I had the unfortunate experience where my husband was accepted by a facility which I thought was permanent only to be told ( after using up all his respite days) they they could not accept him. When I asked what I was supposed to do the reply I got was “oh take him to the hospital they will find him a place”. These facilities have access to consultancies but I wonder if they ever use them. They could have as many staff as they like but unless they are well trained and passionate the proper care will not be given. You cannot take people off the unemployment queue and say here’s a job for you and give them minimal “training ” then expect them to care for people with complex care needs.

  4. I agree that all antipsychotic drugs they can not be called medication as they do so much damage should be removed from Aged care in particular Dementia care. If these units are to be developed can I suggest that they are built around a home area, a bedroom, lounge and bathroom for each person, with the availability for them to go in and out to other places such as gardens or community lounge rooms?
    Once there the person living with dementia should be taken off all medications and only what is requested by the person or their advocate. trialled again,
    staff must be trained in appropriate behaviour management and person-centred care and when trained only trained staff are to look after people.
    we as a country have taken Care out of aged care, it has become an industry of my way or medication. time we went back to caring in the true sense of the word.

  5. Less medication and more meaningful stimulation is required in an environment that is safe and appropriately equipped.
    Staffing levels must be higher to allow flexibility in routine and freedom of choice for residents wherever possible. Staff need to be friends with their residents and be able to really get to know about them, their life, their life experiences and their families
    Environments must be carefully planned and include areas where residents can be involved in the type of daily activities they may have been involved with before their illness
    Families should be encouraged to participate in facility activities and visit whenever they can
    GP’s linked to facilities should receive education in Dementia and Palliative Care, along with Advanced Care Planning to help residents and families when faced with a life limiting illness
    Staff require training, a lot of training! They need to learn skills in behaviour management and how to encourage residents to maintain their independence and take pleasure in the small things in life
    Music, laughter, fresh air, beautiful gardens, going out for coffee or a nice meal…..
    This could and will be the fate of many of us……..don’t we all deserve the best?


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