Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2013 Contents services person -- in uniform, acting in
crisis mode and possibly surrounded by
flashing lights from vehicles -- was there?
Particularly in the dramatic context of
flood, fire or storm.
It is hard enough without dementia
to comprehend the massive impact of
emergency situations, but with impaired
cognition the task becomes even more
difficult. Similarly, in a fire, how would
a fire-fighter know in that moment --
when their primary concern is dousing
the flames and securing lives -- whether
someone has dementia? There are no
outward signs that let you know. It is so
often the subtleties that tell the story
and in those emergency situations,
these can be easily overlooked. Our
fire-fighters do an amazing job but this
resource asks them to stop and think;
'could this be dementia?'.
Our correctional system is an industry
that many people may not consider as
part of a dementia awareness program.
But if we consider that people with
dementia are all around us -- our clients
and consumers -- it stands to reason that
they are also in our correctional system.
In America -- where the correctional
system is more overloaded than Australia
-- they have begun programs where
prisoners act as carers for people with
dementia. Here in Australia, while we
may not have considered it in the past, it
is something we do need to consider for
Dementia as a result of head injury
or drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise
and unfortunately our prison population
includes a lot of this demographic. How
does a correctional services officer know
when someone is 'acting up' or having
trouble with their memory or may be
cognitively impaired? The resource
supports them to consider the question,
'could this be dementia?'.
DIGNITY IN UNDERSTANDING
Working with Short Focus Films, our
Alzheimer's Australia SA team consulted
widely with peak industry reference
groups in the target industries seeking
to develop a resource that really reflects
the experience of dementia through their
employee's eyes. While the industries are
diverse, the challenge of how we maintain
dignity with dementia was a paramount
goal from the training.
Just because a person has dementia
doesn't mean they can't be supported
to complete their banking transaction
or shop for themselves or their families.
It was important to portray dementia in
all its subtleties -- confusion, agitation,
anxiety and across a span of ages. Using
contextualised short films to explore
day-to-day situations that might be
encountered, the films reflect a diverse
experience of dementia and allow you to
observe and question what is happening
within each industry.
The films are accompanied by
industry-specific fact sheets and
facilitator guides. With additional
narration in the introduction and
conclusion segments by Dr Andrew
Rochford ('The Project', Channel 10),
the resource can be used as a stand
alone training program or integrated into
existing training programs.
"Is it Dementia?" was formally
launched in Adelaide on 10 May by
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing,
Mark Butler, and has been widely
endorsed. It is available via the web
on www.isitdementia.com.au or on a
DVD-rom. In addition to the six specific
industries, the resource also contains
a generic module, which can be used
by any industry or community, giving it
broader application to increase dementia
awareness. If you would like more
information about the resource, please
contact: firstname.lastname@example.org n
Marie Alford is Head of Operations for The
Dementia Centre, HammondCare. She was
formerly General Manager, Alzheimer's
Australia South Australia and Director of
the South Australia and Northern Territory
Dementia Training Study Centre.
ARE WE ACTUALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
The first NHMRC Partnership Centre, 'Dealing with Cognitive and
Related Functional Decline in Older People', was launched on 9
April 2013 by Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler.
The centre's focus places a strong emphasis on applying existing
knowledge and creating new knowledge that will directly improve
support to older people.
I am currently visiting services for people with dementia in
Europe. This focus on providing measurable and applied outcomes
that actually make a difference and have had a solid economic
analysis is also being reflected in the funding of work in the countries
I have visited.
My colleagues and I are currently engaged in planning for the HammondCare 2014
International Dementia Conference. The question of change for the better is central to the
theme of the June 2014 conference. Professor Mary Marshall will address the conference
and reflect on the changes that have occurred over the last 30 years and how this
shapes the way forward in supporting people with dementia. The call for papers for this
conference was recently launched and can be found at www.dementiaconference.com.
I think we need to pause and ask the question: will what we are investing in actually
make a difference and be meaningful to those we serve? I am hoping that the papers we
receive will indeed confront and address this important challenge.
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 53
Australian Ageing Agenda's regular
dementia supplement is guest edited
by Colm Cunningham, director of
HammondCare's Dementia Centre.
For further information, email
Marie Alford, left, with Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, at the launch of 'Is it Dementia?'
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