News & Events

Challenges of dementia

June 9, 2019

Working with people who have dementia can be extraordinarily challenging and OCAV is ensuring staff are as well trained as possible. Twenty-five staff from Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility at St Helena, will participate in a three-day course, Dementia Essentials, in July.

Thirty five of the residents at Liscombe House have a dementia diagnosis, which may range from someone with cognitive loss to someone who no longer has any recognition of people, is no longer mobile and is in poor physical condition.

It is estimated that 104,622 Victorians live withdementia (2017), with an expected cost to the economy of $3.7 billion.

“The range of dementia diagnosis is vast and in some cases, presentation can change quickly. This makes the care of people with dementia very challenging for staff and they do a remarkable job,” said Shaaron Robilliard, OCAV’s Director of Nursing & Quality Manager.

Dementia Essentials is a nationally-accredited course and covers:
·      Person-centred care
·      The nature of dementia
·      Effective communication
·      Impact of dementia
·      Activities for engagement
·      Understanding changed behaviours and developing effective responses
·      Supportive environments

Shaaron said the training would echo an important part of OCAV’s care practice, which is about getting to know the resident with dementia and their needs, rather than using the same approach to treat and care for people with dementia. She said some residents could be angry, aggressive and violent at times, while others residents just loved to talk, laugh and all individuals responded to affection and a warm friendly approach.

Liscombe House has developed a care profile on all residents with a dementia diagnosis so that staff learn about their likes and dislikes and what things might trigger aggression, anger or sadness as well as calming methods.

“It is so important to know the residents so that we can understand who they are and care for them better,” Shaaron said.

Shaaron said the Dementia Essentials training was important because the Personal Care Attendant course, which aged care workers undertake, includes very little training and education about dementia. This is despite the growing number of people with the disease. Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in Australians aged 65 and over.

She said another big challenge for staff was the unpredictable and changing nature of the disease in some residents.

“A resident can be very aggressive in the morning and then calm and warm and friendly in the evening, so staff need to be able to identify changes and protect other residents and themselves from violence,” Shaaron said.

“Our staff know the residents with a diagnosis of dementia and are able to monitor and document changes. They know how to respond if they see a person’s behavior changing or if their appetite diminishes and they are not sleeping well.”

“I want to give them a hug and say don’t worry everything will be alright. I can’t say that, but I can promise that we will provide the best possible care for people living with dementia in our care.”

OCAV as part of its Vision 2020 has published a Vision-2020-Dementia-booklet, which outlines the organisation’s seven-point plan to create dementia-friendly villages.

Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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