Dr Kathleen Doherty1, Dr. Emma Lea1, Prof. Andrew Robinson1
1Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
The University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre offers a suite of programs to address the need for improved dementia knowledge and awareness, particularly for those providing direct care to people with dementia. The free Understanding Dementia Massive Open Online Course (UDMOOC) provides fundamental dementia education about the brain, the diseases and care, and the Bachelor of Dementia Care (BDC) program provides comprehensive dementia care education which enables development of specialised knowledge. The UDMOOC significantly improves knowledge of dementia in the large cohort of care worker participants and some are motivated to progress to the BDC. For care workers who graduate with a BDC no formal role currently exists to capitalise on their unique combination of knowledge and skills. The 2-year Improving Dementia Care Program began in May 2017 in three Tasmanian aged care home sites to explore a potential new role for care worker BDC graduates. From this program, a new aged care role is proposed, the Dementia Care Support Worker, which recognises the strengths of care worker graduates of the BDC Program. This model provides an opportunity for care worker graduates to combine their practical experience of caring for people with dementia in residential aged care with contemporary dementia knowledge and bring this to a peer support role. Key stakeholders have been found to be highly supportive of this type of role, citing its potential to improve staff understanding of dementia and care for residents living with dementia.
Statement of the value of the information to the delegates and how it relates to the ACSA Summit.
In the context of an ageing population, growing prevalence of dementia, and increased frailty and dependence of aged care home residents, it is imperative that the aged care workforce has the knowledge and capacity to deliver best practice care to people living with dementia. Improving knowledge and awareness of dementia in direct care staff underpins their capacity to deliver care. Evaluation of the programs offered by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre demonstrate their positive impact on the aged care workforce. We collated data on a large cohort of Australian UDMOOC participants whose work sector was residential aged care. From survey responses we examined their motivation for commencing the UDMOOC, interaction with course elements, and knowledge of dementia before and after course completion using the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale. Participants overwhelmingly indicated a desire to improve their knowledge of dementia in order to deliver better care for people living with dementia as a key motivating factor. Knowledge of dementia significantly improved on completion of the UDMOOC. Evaluation of the Improving Dementia Care Program has found that management and staff perceive the Dementia Care Support Worker role as an important role with benefits for the care of residents with dementia, such as by providing support for staff to develop dementia care strategies for specific residents. This presentation is relevant to clinical and organisational leaders and other members of the aged care workforce who are striving to meet 21st century healthcare demands associated with an ageing population.