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Dementia Australia launches new 'micro-lessons' app for home care workers

Peak body for dementia, Dementia Australia, launched a new mobile app for home support and community care workers that aims to build the skills of these workers to provide quality care for people living with dementia.

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Dementia Australia developed Ask Annie and Talk with Ted in partnership with Deakin University's Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute. [Source: Shutterstock]

The app, Ask Annie, teaches short, self-paced learning modules to support and community care workers to refresh their skills and learn new tips and techniques to provide better care to people with cognitive issues.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe, says the Ask Annie tool was designed with the help of community care workers to make the app accessible and educational.

"The app is an easy to use, convenient training tool, able to be purchased by provider organisations as a multi-license package for their staff to access anywhere and anytime," says Ms McCabe. 

"Once the team member signs up to the app, Annie is there to provide encouragement, tips and to offer ongoing training that is accessible whenever the care worker wants to schedule in a quick 10 or 15 minute check-in across the country.

"There are more than 130,000 people working in home support and community care across Australia and they play a vital role for people living with dementia, their families and carers.  

"With almost half a million Australians living with dementia – which is projected to increase to 1.1 million people by 2058 – our community needs a greater focus on quality dementia care and ensuring continued training and support is available for the workforce."

Dementia Australia developed Ask Annie in partnership with Deakin University's Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2), and with support from an independent charity fund, Gandel Philanthropy.

Aged care service provider BlueCross will be utilising the Ask Annie mobile tool for their home support and community care workers.

General Manager of BlueCross, Bridget Howes, believes Ask Annie will significantly assist their workers to develop their skills and improve care for clients with dementia.

"Ask Annie can help to strengthen the skills of our team so that they can be even better carers for people living with dementia,” Ms Howes said.  

"The fact that it's accessible on a mobile phone and for our home carers, on the tablets they use at work, makes it really convenient too. It means that, for example, if one of our home carers has questions about how to care for a client living with dementia, like mealtimes or showering, they could take a few minutes before they arrive at their home to brush up on some tips that could help alleviate any challenges that may arise in the situation.

"After a quick refresher, they would feel more equipped and empowered to better support the person in their care."

CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, Vedran Drakulic OAM, says Ask Annie is a great example of how technology can be utilised to improve dementia education and aged care in Australia.

"Ask Annie provides workers in the aged care industry with the opportunity to receive dementia-specific training that is practical, accessible and flexible enough to fit into their demanding days," says Mr Drakulic.

"The vision for Ask Annie was to create a unique and immersive learning experience that directly leads to learning outcomes that can be translated into everyday practice.  

"Gandel Philanthropy is proud to partner with Dementia Australia to launch Ask Annie, and to further develop online learning experiences that lead to better care for people living with dementia."

Ask Annie follows the recent launch of Talk With Ted, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program that simulates a discussion with a person with dementia.

Care workers can "Talk with Ted" to experience what it is like talking to a person living with dementia, and understand how they convey emotions and what verbal responses you may experience.

Ms McCabe says, "Talk with Ted is a world-first in dementia education and applies a person-centred approach to developing skills, which ensures users learn how to put the individual and their needs at the forefront of every interaction.

"The tool allows workers to practice their communication skills in a safe environment, where they can learn from their mistakes and improve their practice.

"This type of experiential learning, that is both engaging and innovative, helps people to recall exactly what they’ve learned and makes them more likely to implement these new skills – which means better care for our loved ones living with dementia."

This program was also developed with Deakin University's A2I2 and collaborated with care workers and people living with dementia.

To learn more about Ask Annie or Talk With Ted, visit the Dementia Australia's Centre for Dementia Learning.

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