International dementia awards – the winners

Successes in dementia care and support from around the world were recognised at the International Dementia Excellence Awards last week, among them a project to support people with younger onset dementia and their families.

Above, L-R: Neil Mapes, director of Dementia Adventure and winner of the Risky Business award, Keryn Curtis, editor of Australian Ageing Agenda and Professor June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre in Scotland.

By Stephen Easton

A South Australian aged care provider was recognised among the winners of the International Dementia Excellence Awards (IDEAs) last week, for its program to support people with younger onset dementia and their families.

Life Care took out the Life Engagement category for their Side by Side project at an awards ceremony last week, held during the Risky Business conference in Sydney.

The awards are organised by the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) at the University of Stirling in Scotland, which has a partnership with HammondCare and the Dementia Centre, the organisers of Risky Business.

Younger onset dementia affects people very differently to other forms of the disease that affect people later in life. According to a statement from Life Care, people with the condition often find themselves “suddenly unemployed with families to support”, become isolated from social networks and lose self-esteem.

But through the Side By Side project, the organisation “is providing an opportunity for people with the condition to re-engage with the community to maintain skills and retain self-confidence”.

Accepting the award in Sydney, Life Care’s CEO, Allen Candy, said the project worked by allowing people with younger onset dementia to spend time in a working environment and to meaningfully interact with others in everyday activities while allowing their regular carers to have some much-needed respite.

He also thanked Bunnings Warehouse, the first company in Adelaide to support the project, for welcoming individuals with younger onset dementia from Life Care’s Norman House specialist respite care facility to work with team members at its Mile End store.

“Each participant is partnered with a “buddy” from Bunnings to undertake a range of different tasks,” Mr Candy said in the statement.

“It is a socialisation process through which the participants are developing new task skills while having a valued workplace role. There have been some outstanding outcomes for participants and their families from the Side By Side project.”

The Side By Side project was initially supported by the Australian Government through the Dementia Community Support Grants program, and the University of South Australia is working with Life Care to evaluate the impact of the project on participants and their regular carers.

DSDC director and member of the IDEAs judging panel, Professor June Andrews, was in Australia to speak at the conference and present the awards, which she said would raise awareness of innovative practices in dementia care. 

“Everyone who was nominated is an absolute star. We do need to go after the bad people who bring harm, but we also need to celebrate the many, many people who do so much good,” Prof Andrews said. 

Giving a speech the following day at the conference, Prof Andrews noted that despite a large body of research around the world on dementia care, some attempts at innovation seemed to substitute creativity for scientific evidence. Only projects that are genuinely successful and evidence-based, as well as innovative, should be recognised with accolades, she said.

The IDEA for Team of the Year went to the staff of HammondCare’s Woonona Cottage, which provided respite care for a woman who developed the disease at the age of 30, shortly before giving birth to a child. The full story is on the HammondCare Health and Aged Care blog.

The full list of winners of the 2012 International Dementia Excellence Awards:

Volunteer of the Year (Aust only)

Dodi Rose, National Gallery Victoria

Team of the Year (Aust only) 

Woonona Cottage staff, HammondCare, NSW

Employee of the Year (Aust only)

Libby Palmer, Dementia Advisor, Community Care (Northern Beaches) Ltd, NSW

Dementia Design Innovation of the Year

Dementia Design Checklist adaptation, IHC Successful Ageing Project, New Zealand

Risky Business

Dementia Adventure, Neil Mapes, Director, Essex UK

Dementia and the Arts

Also A Mirror, ECH Inc. and Urban Myth Theatre of Youth, South Australia

Life Engagement

The Side by Side project, Life Care, South Australia

Researcher of the Year

Professor Sube Banerjee, Professor of Mental Health and Ageing, Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and director of the Centre for Innovation and Evaluation in Mental Health.

The international judging panel included Professor June Andrews, Australian dementia advocate Sue Pieters-Hawke, Dr Marie-Jo Guisset Martinez of Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, France, and the CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glen Rees.

The awards were supported by the Department of Health and Ageing, Alzheimer’s Australia and Australian Ageing Agenda.

Tags: awards, awards-for-excellence, dementia,

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