The most recent courses ran throughout January and February in Albury, New South Wales (NSW), and connected with 15 carers of people living with dementia and more than 20 volunteers working to support these individuals and the community.
Running across one or two days, the courses cover a range of topics relevant to those caring for or supporting those living with dementia to help them not only better understand dementia and the impact it has on the person with the diagnosis, but to also empower locals to help locals.
Dementia Australia’s General Manager Services Barbara Williams says the number of participants and the feedback received from the recent courses and workshops in Albury were a great indicator of the need for the continuation of the workshops, not just in NSW, but across the nation.
“In Albury throughout January we ran two-day carer education courses and had 15 in attendance, with 22 participating in our volunteer workshop during February,” Ms Williams explains.
“All of the courses are aimed to provide family carers with a basic understanding of dementia and the impact it has on the person diagnosed.
“It also offers some understanding of management strategies to improve the quality of life for them and the person they care for.”
As part of the carer courses, Ms Williams says there are five topics covered, including the nature of dementia, effective communication and activities, understanding and responding to behaviour changes, the impact of dementia on the person and their carer, as well as community services and planning ahead.
She adds that three topics are included in the volunteer workshops, including understanding major causes and symptoms, how brain damage affects function and behaviour, and effective engagement when visiting a person with dementia.
“When we talk about community services and planning ahead, we always engage with local providers who come to the session,” Ms Williams explains.
“These courses and workshops are also in place to help reduce isolation, provide a local support network, empower locals to help locals, and to make sure people are able to get the support they need in their local community.
“I believe these courses are making a difference to the community and to individuals by improving the lives of people living with dementia and building capability among the community to support fellow community members.”
Ms Williams says Dementia Australia offers a number of these courses and workshops across the country, particularly in non-metropolitan areas, throughout the year and encourages anyone interested to check in with the peak body for any local and upcoming sessions.
“It’s great to see that it is something that is gaining popularity and support in local communities and given the support in Albury we are looking at bringing the courses back in the future,” she explains.
“We have a lot of workshops starting to run via webinar too so if people don’t have any courses coming up in their local area face to face, there may be some that you can access via the internet from the comfort of your own home.”
Dementia Australia has upcoming sessions and courses planned for North Ryde and Hamilton throughout March, with other courses also available in other states.
To find out about similar workshops planned for other states and territories, contact the Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.