Above: Dr Cindy Jones, Centre for Health Practice Innovation at Griffith University
Health and aged care professionals have a new educational resource to help them navigate the delicate and challenging issue of managing sexual expression while caring for people with dementia.
The free eLearning resource, developed by Dr Cindy Jones from the Centre for Health Practice Innovation at Griffith University in Brisbane, aims to increase awareness of intimacy, sexualities and sexual behaviours specific to people with dementia and to guide their carers on how to better support them.
Based on national and international literature and research, and funded with support from the Department of Health and Ageing and Queensland Dementia Training and Study Centres (DTSC), the authors say it is designed to assist health professionals working across all care settings and is the first resource of its kind.
It is also the first e-learning resource in Australia to include concerns and issues faced by non-heterosexual people with dementia, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI).
Dr Jones said it became apparent that there was a real gap in the education of health professionals regarding sexualities and dementia, with no other comprehensive resource specifically addressing the needs of this group.
“Our research revealed that when presented with these challenging situations, interventions taken by health professionals are often quite reactive rather than proactive, with many staff simply not knowing what to do.
“The important message is that expression of sexuality is a part of life no matter what age we are and that older people with dementia therefore also need to be considered,” says Dr Jones.
Meredith Gresham, Senior Dementia Consultant – Research & Design, at HammondCare in New South Wales was part of the expert panel reviewing the new resource.
“The modules really produced thoughtful discussion. The conclusion points are fabulous. I would like to congratulate Dr Jones on the work,” she said.
The resource provides a framework to guide the development of policy and guidelines to address issues of sexual expression in care settings. There is also a facilitator guide providing workshop information for which ‘train the trainer’ education can be applied.
This resource is available from the National DTSC website as a PDF document to download, and as a CD-Rom. Two workshops are also being planned for April 8 at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane and June 25 at the Gold Coast Hospital.
For inquiries or a hard copy, please contact Sandra Jeavons on 07 3138 5943 or email Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org