Victorian aged care provider launches new dementia care strategy

Improving universal understanding of dementia, choice for consumers and organisational culture are central to a Victorian provider’s new three-year dementia strategic plan.

Improving universal understanding of dementia, choice for consumers and organisational culture are central to a Victorian provider’s new three-year dementia strategic plan.

Southern Cross Care Victoria (SCCV) said its 10-point plan aims to support home and residential aged care clients with dementia to live active, meaningful and purposeful lives.

The priorities involve developing a highly-skilled workforce, improving choice and access to care, providing better integration and continuum of services, building dementia-friendly environments, and changing community attitudes towards dementia.

SCCV CEO Andrew Newton said the strategic plan ensured the organisation would innovate services to achieve best outcomes for clients and their carers.

The new approach was developed through a consultative process and included key areas identified by residents, clients and the wider dementia community, he said.

“One of our key priorities is to remove any stigma often associated with dementia. To do that, we are ensuring that our workforce and our services and environments are dementia friendly,” Mr Newton said.

Staff training, technology underpin strategy

SCCV dementia consultant Ben Gatehouse said the challenge presented by the “dementia epidemic” was the impetus for the strategic review and development of the three-year plan.

There are 353,800 people living with dementia in Australia and it is estimated there will 900,000 people by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Australia.

“Some of the initiatives we have commenced include ensuring our staff have comprehensive knowledge and skills in dementia support,” Mr Gatehouse told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Ben Gatehouse
Ben Gatehouse

All employees will have their role matched to a minimum dementia education requirement and be required to participate in training.

To build dementia-friendly communities and improve awareness of dementia, SCCV will run community education forums and reach out to local groups, schools and hospitals, he said.

Technology will also be incorporated into dementia care across residential and community services, with each facility incorporating virtual reality device into dementia care from early 2017, Mr Gatehouse said.

“We have found that for some of our residents living with dementia using the virtual reality device can improve levels of entertainment and stimulation while reducing symptom of agitation.”

In community services, Mr Gatehouse said the organisation would explore further opportunities to expand its range of flexible, responsive dementia respite and wellness programs across the state.

Under the strategy future SCCV facilities will include interior and external spaces that promote autonomy, independence and freedom for residents living with dementia, he said.

“Designs will promote engagement with meaningful environments and activities, which enhance each person to live the way they want to and support their uniqueness and personal values.”

Technology that supports building and sustaining relationships, such as smart TV’s and access to tablets, computers, smart phones, MP3 players and virtual reality devices, will be key features of facility design to promote healthy active ageing for residents living with dementia, he said.

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Tags: andrew-newton, ben-gatehouse, dementia, Southern Cross Care Victoria,

4 thoughts on “Victorian aged care provider launches new dementia care strategy

  1. As I have a mother with vascular dementia and a father with Alzheimers I find it very difficult to swallow that the use of ipods or smart phones and computers will be able to be used by people with dementia. My parents can’t even use the microwave because their perception of what is there is not the reality. Even if my parents wanted to use technology which they never did, they would have no idea how to use a smartphone with their illness. Maybe you know better than I, but I know my parents would absolutely NOT be able to deal with any technology. My mum can’t even use a remote control for the TV anymore and neither can my father as he forgets how to use it. GOOD LUCK!

  2. I understand that using these things are not for everyone, but my husband at 81yrs has Frontal Lobe Dementia and does get a lot of enjoyment from his ipad, he does forget at times how to use some features, but has a carer who visits weekly to work through things with him and leave instructions in a note book.

  3. Providers should be paying attention to Graeme Samuel’s message…aged care ‘hotel’ services are not what we need. keeping everyone at home for as long as possible means that residential care should be focusing on smaller facilities with HIGHLY SKILLED care staff to manage the high level care needs of our future clients.

  4. Aged Care in Rural Australia works very well because most of the staff looking after the residents know them and their families including their lifestyle choices.
    Some staff are family of the residents.
    I feel this familiarity helps to keep dementia residents engaged more.

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