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Insight sought on design of specialist dementia units


The Commonwealth Government is seeking feedback on the development of the proposed specialist care units to support people with very severe dementia-related behaviours.

The Australian Government announced it would establish Specialist Dementia Care Units (SDCUs) to support people who experience very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) in June 2016 in response to calls from experts and aged care stakeholders.

The $7.5 million election commitment was confirmed in the December 2016 Mid-Year Economic Fiscal Outlook with at least one SDCU to be established in each of the 31 Primary Health Networks nationally.

The Department of Health has released a consultation paper this week to provide information about SDCU developments to date, which have been informed by targeted consultation and analysis of existing services and best practice.

It is now seeking feedback on the future direction of the initiative, particularly with:

  • how SDCUs will intersect with existing supports for people with dementia
  • the proposed high-level model of care
  • funding and administrative options.

SDCU’s aim to fill the gap consistently identified by stakeholders in the ability of the aged care and health systems to provide appropriate care for the estimated up to 1 per cent of people with dementia who experience very severe BPSD.

The units are intended to complement similar existing and planned state and territory government investments in services for people with very severe BPSD, according to the paper.

The department said SDCUs would:

  • provide care for people with very severe BPSD who are unable to be effectively cared for by mainstream aged care services due to the risk of harm they present to themselves or others
  • deliver care within a dedicated 8–12 bed unit with a residential aged care setting
  • offer transitional support that focuses on reducing or stabilising symptoms, with the aim of enabling the person to transition to a less intensive care setting
  • operate as the third level of Australian Government programs to assist people with dementia, complementing the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response Teams
  • enhance the existing health and aged care service systems for people with very severe BPSD, including complementing state and territory government funded services and supports for people with BPSD.

The consultation paper is available here and the consultation period ends on 21 January 2018.

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5 Responses to Insight sought on design of specialist dementia units

  1. Kim Bromley November 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    This is a fantastic initiative…. After working in aged care for nearly 20 years as a Diversional Therapist, some of the most important factors are right design, Home like environment with several areas to wander and sit or be active , not just one lounge dining space.

    Most importantly trained, caring staff that have a good ratio of staff to resident, including all therapies ( Diversional, Music, Art, Aromatherapy, Physio)

    Diversional Therapy Services every day from at least 9am to 9 pm, to assist in providing residents with individual person centred leisure and recreation opportunities to engage in groups and individual activity…. a lot of behaviours May stem from boredom, frustration and lack of communication..

    . Having adequate staff numbers who are not rushed to shower, dress and feed 5-9 residents is key, a relaxed home like environment with a routine tailor made to the resident that is flexible and staff who are trained in dementia care and can identify when to approach a residents, when to engage and when to allow space….

    You need to consult all areas of care from nursing, to all therapies, to catering experts as well

  2. Timothy John November 30, 2017 at 12:16 am #

    I am not an expert, nor do I work in the “industry” but I think that isolation is a huge problem, for the aging and with people with dementia.
    Gated “villages” should be built where residents are safe and secure…they should have familiar facilities, like corner shops, post office, a pub with music, community hall/centre, health care, dentist etc etc. etc. a safe ‘walkable’ space for the residents, to live and engage in.
    As I said…I am no expert, but I think ‘natural’ and familiar stimuli would be of benefit.

  3. Val Fell November 30, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    Couldn’t agree more, Timothy. It has been done in other parts of the world and I understand a few organisations are planning similar facilities here- not sure of the location.

  4. Irene McInerney December 2, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    Val, in Hobart Tasmania there is plans for a block to be converted to a Dementia village. What a grand thing

  5. Leah Bisiani December 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

    Having worked with people living with dementia for 30 years I would like to share a more suitable solution. That is using empathy and compassion. Having fun dementia only facilities most of my career I have proven this mindset described above is destructive and cruel. Its time for us to cease fostering stereotypical assumptions based on our own fear of dementia onto those living with it. We must acknowledge that our negative attitudes are usually the impetus to creating and triggering the very behavioural expression we then use to label and judge people living with dementia. Not only does this affect our perception of dementia and how we treat people, but affects how a person living with dementia perceives themselves. As always, I do my best as a cognitively aware person, within my limited ability, to view life through the eyes of those inspirational people who live with dementia. I hope these articles written to expose subjective attitudes toward dementia and especially behavioural expression, helps shake up those who continue to foster these disrespectful mindsets. Time to be accountable for our own behaviour. Shame!!

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/understanding-unequivocal-rights-people-living-dementia-leah-bisiani

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/medicated-motivated-questioning-abusive-practice-chemical-bisiani

    https://lnkd.in/gvbmQpq

    Leah Bisiani
    MHlthSc/Dementia Consultant/RN.1

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