The Dementia Care Support Worker: A New Role for Care Worker Graduates of the Bachelor of Dementia Care
Lea, EJ and Doherty, KV and Page, K and Hill, J and Robinson, AL, The Dementia Care Support Worker: A New Role for Care Worker Graduates of the Bachelor of Dementia Care, Alzheimer's Association International Conference, 22-26 July 2018, Chicago, USA (2018) [Conference Extract]
HTML (Conference abstract published on conference site) Pending copyright assessment - Request a copy 226Kb
Over half of Australian nursing home residents have a dementia diagnosis, similar to the USA. Unregulated care staff provide the majority of daily care within nursing homes, and constitute 70% of the sector workforce. Despite a desire to deliver the best possible care, these staff rarely have the formal knowledge or capacity to translate evidence into reform of care practices to deliver better resident outcomes. To address this dementia knowledge gap, the University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre initiated a Dementia Care Degree Program in 2012 (528 graduates to date). However, while care workers emerge with dementia expertise, no formal role for graduates exists within the Australian aged care sector. There is therefore an imperative to configure new roles to better care for increasingly frail and dependent residents. This paper addresses a project to develop a new role for a care worker who has graduated with a Bachelor of Dementia Care. The 2-year Improving Dementia Care Program began in May 2017 and aims to develop, implement and evaluate the impact of this Dementia Care Support Worker role across three Tasmanian sites. This will generate a model for a new aged care role which capitalises on the strengths of care worker graduates of the Dementia Care Degree Program. This model will present an opportunity for care worker graduates to bring their rich clinical experience in working with people with dementia in nursing home environments together with contemporary knowledge of dementia to a peer support role. Qualitative process evaluation of the Improving Dementia Care Program has found that the Dementia Care Support Worker has been exploring and trialling different care practices, strategies and therapies for residents living with dementia, advising colleagues about dementia and care, developing and promoting evidence-based resources and education, and supporting colleagues to trial evidence-based approaches to their care work. Key stakeholders have been found to be highly supportive of the role, citing its impact on improving staff understanding of dementia and initiation of practice change, and expressing their hope that the role will be effective in driving organisation-wide change to improve residents’ quality of life.