Baptist Community Services – NSW & ACT launched its Stronger Carers Program this week. L to R: Program manager Marleina Fahey, Consumer Advisor Helen James and Baptist Community Services General Manager Home Care Annette Hili. 

Baptist Community Services (BCS) NSW & ACT has this week launched a free skills-building intervention program comprising tailored carer coaching, relaxation and stress management, and social networking for carers of people living with dementia.

Stronger Carers will be delivered by a coach in the family carer’s home aiming to equip them with the skills, tools and confidence to care for their loved one while also managing a balanced lifestyle.

Monday’s launch of the program coincides with Dementia Awareness Week 2013, which runs from Monday 16 September to Sunday 22 September.

Speaking at the launch, Stronger Carers manager and BCS dementia consultant Marleina Fahey said the program aimed to empower up to 300 at home family carers of people living with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in metropolitan Sydney between October this year and March 2015.

The impetus for the program’s development was recognising the need for more hands-on, convenient and targeted support mechanisms for family carers, Ms Fahey said.

“There are a lot of carer support options currently available through organisations like Alzheimer’s Australia (NSW); but there isn’t anything that targets family carers to build their skills and their resilience at home in the environment where the challenges are occurring.

“We’re hoping the program will be able to deliver more direct, practical and relevant care strategies to make better use of the time family carers have to invest in developing their carer skills and understanding the needs of their care recipient.

“It is important to support family carers so they can maintain their own quality of life and that of the family members they look after,” Ms Fahey said.

The program will be delivered by three dementia carer coaches and supported by a project reference group with membership from Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, Carers NSW, BCS staff and a consumer advisor, she said.

The in-home program will be available in 39 areas of greater metropolitan Sydney for six-to-10 weeks at a time.

Each cohort will include seven-to-10 participants who will have the opportunity to socialise with other carers through social clubs called Care for a Cuppa Café.

Contact Marleina Fahey on 02 9023 2708 or to register interest in this program, which is funded by the commonwealth government under the Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants.


e-Learning resource for residential aged care

With $1.45 million funding, also from the government’s Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants scheme, Flinders University and McCarthy Psychology Services are teaming up to rollout a dementia care training program to aged care facilities nationwide.

The project involves distributing an e-learning resource, Personalising Practice Resource Kit, to every aged care facility in Australia over three years from July 2013.

It will be facilitated by 30 workshops across all states and territories and a web-based support service to help staff use the resources.

The Personalising Practice Resource Kit includes:

  • A DVD of practical information and tools to help aged-care staff improve dementia care across 19 themes, including strategies to enhancing independence, wellbeing and meaningful activities through to simple environmental changes
  • A DVD with 26 short video messages about person-centred care as well as an accompanying training manual
  • A video featuring the experiences of aged care staff using the resource

McCarthy Psychology Services CEO Bernie McCarthy (pictured) said the funding was recognition of the value and importance of the person centred approach in improving dementia care in residential aged care.

“My hope is that it will lead to improving quality of life for people in care,” Mr McCarthy said.

“For this to happen, the person centred approach will need to be taken up and supported by leaders in all aged care homes within Australia,” he said.

Acting head of Flinders University’s Palliative and Supportive Services Discipline Dr Sam Davis said the resource was a simple and direct way of helping aged care staff translate best practice research into their everyday work.

“A lot of staff recognise there are things they could do better but they don’t know how to facilitate those changes so these tools will help make their jobs a bit easier and empower them to enhance the care they already provide,” Dr Davis said.


Get involved in dementia week activities

Students and teachers at Holy Family Primary School, Mt Waverley, in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, are putting their ‘Hands Up To Fight Dementia’ for Dementia Awareness Week. In this photo: Ramani, Mara, Sarah, Meeka, Paul, Laura and Paul Wakeling, Principal.

Alzheimer’s Australia is calling on all Australians to ensure they take steps to adopt a brain healthy lifestyle in its campaign to mark Dementia Awareness Week 2013.

The national awareness campaign is supported by financial assistance from the Australian commonwealth and state governments and coincides with World Alzheimer’s Day on Saturday 21 September.

While there isn’t yet a cure, scientific research has shown a person may be able to reduce the risk of developing dementia or delay its onset by taking action in their 30s, 40s and 50s, said Maree McCabe, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia Vic.

“It’s never too late to incorporate brain healthy habits into your lifestyle,” Ms McCabe said.

“It can be as simple as going for a walk, eating more vegetables and fruit or looking after your cholesterol and blood pressure.

“The time to act is now.”

Alzheimer’s Australia’s Your Brain Matters website features resources and activities on being brain healthy including a 21-day challenge to establish life long healthy habits for your brain.

To coincide with Dementia Awareness Week, Alzheimer’s Australia is hosting events, activities and education sessions across the country.

See the following for information on what is happening in the following states and territory:

Key facts and Australian statistics 2013 supplied by Alzheimer’s Australia

  • More than 320,000 Australians are living with dementia
  • There are 1700 new cases of dementia in Australia every week
  • Approximately 24,400 people in Australia have Younger Onset Dementia
  • Three in 10 people over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 people over 65 have dementia
  • An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia
  • Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia
  • Dementia symptoms are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made (on average)

For more on Alzheimer’s Australia’s support services, education and information, see or call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.


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