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New package helps put perspective on hospital stays for people living with dementia

Hospital staff across the nation are now able to put themselves in the shoes of their patients living with dementia, all thanks to the release of a new and free experiential training package.

The new and free Insights into the Hospital Dementia Experience toolkit aims to help hospital staff deliver the best quality care to people living with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)
The new and free Insights into the Hospital Dementia Experience toolkit aims to help hospital staff deliver the best quality care to people living with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)

Developed by Dementia Australia and funded by the Department of Social Services Aged Care Services Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Program, the Insights into the Hospital Dementia Experience toolkit aims to help hospital and Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) staff deliver the best quality care possible to people living with dementia.

Executive Director of Client Services for Dementia Australia, Susan McCarthy, says caring for people living with dementia in a hospital setting presented unique challenges for both the individual and staff.

She says it has been developed to increase understanding and empathy towards people living with dementia during times when they are admitted to hospital.

“This training package enables staff to put themselves in the shoes of a person living with dementia, and provides greater understanding of how the condition might impact on an individual’s hospital experience,” she says.

“Through the use of simulation and debriefing exercises, we aim to inspire participants to adopt a more sensitive, informed and considered practice leading to a more positive experience for the person living with dementia, their families and carers, as well as for the staff who work with them.”

The training focuses on the importance of person-centred care and understanding behavioural responses. The stimulation and debriefing exercise are designed to give participants a deeper insight into what it may be like to have dementia and the impact it can have on a patient in a hospital setting.

Ms McCarthy says the training package has been tested through pilot workshops with educators from across Local Health Districts of New South Wales (NSW), with the results of the evaluations incorporated into the final package.

She adds that during the development of the package, people living with dementia, their families and carers were invited to share their own hospital experiences to ensure the training captured the realities of a hospital or MPS stay for a person living with the disease.

A reference group made up of consumers, dementia care specialists, members from the NSW Health Education and Training Institute and the Agency for Clinical Innovation was also established to help guide the project.

“We thank everyone who has been involved in the development of this training package and look forward to both patients and staff benefiting from the insights it provides,” Ms McCarthy says.

The package, which includes a facilitator guide, participant handbook and simulation resource, is available to download now for free for educators from hospital or MPS sites across Australia at the Dementia Australia website.

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