Mar 30, 2021

Transforming the capability of the dementia workforce: “68% of residents are known to have moderate to severe cognitive impairment”

Senior woman looking at memories

Since September 2018, thousands of people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers have shared their very personal, often traumatic and confronting experiences directly with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Royal Commission’s Final Report captures the essence of those issues and demonstrates the Commissioners have listened to Australians impacted by dementia.

Dementia Australia has a clear roadmap for quality dementia care. It is based on the views of people living with dementia, their families and carers, and addresses the gaps outlined in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety providing possible solutions to address these gaps. 

Working with people impacted by dementia, as well as some important sector partners, we have developed an integrated Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care. This collaborative vision, together with its key components, has been presented  to the Federal Government for consideration. 

Quality dementia care must become a core element of aged care in Australia. The Roadmap outlines three key areas that collectively would make a significant difference to the delivery of quality dementia care:

  1. Dementia support pathways
  2. Transformed dementia workforce capability
  3. Dementia-friendly design

Focus area number two addresses the importance of the aged care workforce having the capacity and capability to consistently deliver quality care for people living with dementia. 

This will focus on addressing the most immediate deficits in workforce capacity, along with implementing initiatives to support transformation of dementia practice in the longer term. 

This includes the establishment of dementia practice leaders to mentor and coach other staff in the application of new knowledge and skill and peer-based communities of practice.  

The education and training initiatives will address the needs of different vocational groups within and outside aged care settings and target both the current and the future workforce.

Together with Dementia Training Australia and Dementia Support Australia, we have identified two phases which would be implemented in parallel to address education and training needs and build workforce dementia capability.

  1. Uplift dementia capability of the workforce in the short-term.
  2. Implement initiatives supporting the sustainable transformation of dementia practice in the medium to long term.

The Roadmap has been developed to articulate, measure and evaluate the impact of initiatives to be undertaken by Dementia Australia and other key stakeholders, including the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Department of Health, peak bodies and research organisations. 

Central to this is honouring the voice of people living with dementia, their families and carers in redesigning the system. 

All Australians need to have confidence and trust in our aged care system. We rely on our aged care system to care for our loved ones. We all want to have faith in a system that will care for us to, if or when we will need it.  

With almost half a million Australians living with dementia, and with this figure projected to increase to 1.1 million people by 2058, now is the time to act.

Getting quality care right for people living with dementia will have a profound and lasting impact for all – systemically, economically and as a human right. It is our responsibility as a society to provide appropriate care for those who are most vulnerable.

It is critical that these initiatives are implemented in their entirety and without delay to achieve the systemic change required to provide quality care for everyone in Aged Care.

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