Staff learn best-practice dementia care in micro chunks

An education program is launching next week to help aged care workers cope with the challenging aspects of delivering care to people with dementia.

An education program is launching next week to help aged care workers cope with the challenging aspects of delivering care to people living with dementia.

The implementation of the Dementia Microlearning Program coincides with Dementia Action Week, which commences Monday 18 September.

Funded by Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation Australia in partnership with Flinders University, the aim of the microlearning project is to build a research-led, on-the-ground game plan for addressing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.  

New South Wales and Queensland provider Whiddon is one of seven aged care operators across the country engaging with the program. “We’re the only residential aged care provider in NSW participating in this research project,” Whiddon deputy chief executive officer Alyson Jarrett told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Over the course of the 12-week project, which can be accessed via an app, 2,000 members of Whiddon’s care team – including registered nurses, assistants in nursing, community care workers along with ancillary support staff in catering, laundry, cleaning, maintenance and administration roles – will interplay with the program.

Alyson Jarrett

“It’s looking at delivering evidence-based microlearning to people working in residential aged care to support the delivery of best practice care to our residents and clients living with dementia,” said Ms Jarrett.

The program consists of five-minute practical exercises. “It’s targeted at that short, sharp approach,” said Ms Jarrett. “We find that the longer modules aren’t as effective as the shorter, sharper-type modules.”

Indeed, a recent study conducted by the now defunct Aged Care Workforce Industry Council found that 91 per cent of aged care workers agreed that they liked the microlearning approach to training while 82 per cent agreed they found it more productive than a one-hour e-learning module.  

Many of the program’s microlearning exercises are action-learning activities, said Ms Jarrett. “So looking at real-world scenarios and how we address those in real time.”

The app features an algorithm that assesses the participant’s learning journey. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all for every person,” said Ms Jarrett. “It’s about understanding the individual’s response.”

The app also offers peer-based support. “If someone is struggling or somebody’s doing really well, we can match those people up so that they can support each other,” said Ms Jarrett.

Dale Feeney

Dale Feeney is deputy director of care services at Whiddon Laurieton in Port Macquarie.

She told AAA: “I’m really excited that Whiddon is introducing this tool at our sites because we found here at Laurieton that sitting with your staff and talking to them is valuable. This [program] is going to answer a lot of their questions and help them with delivering their relationship-based care.”

An estimated 400,000 Australians are currently living with some form of dementia. That number is expected to double by 2058. Across Whiddon’s 25 aged care homes, 50 per cent of its residents have received a dementia diagnosis.

Ms Jarrett told AAA that the Dementia Microlearning Program will enable Whiddon employees to better care for those residents living with dementia. “By encouraging staff to practice in that relationship-based care approach, and also have a mastery around dementia knowledge, provides them with the tools to do their job.”

She added: “That has positive outcomes for our residents but also good outcomes for [the staff] because they are seeing success in their approach in caring for people living with dementia.”

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on LinkedInX (Twitter) and Facebook, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to our premium content or AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation Australia, Alyson Jarrett, Dale Feeney, Dementia Microlearning Program, featured, flinders university, whiddon,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *