Dementia Care Skills Lacking – Senate Report
Thursday, 27th March 2014 at 11:22 am
A Senate Committee report has found the current aged-care workforce in Australia does not appear to have the skills and training to adequately support people living with dementia, pointing to the overuse of physical and chemical restraints.
The report tabled in Parliament said there is need to significantly improve the skills in this sector as a matter of priority.
Staff without the necessary skills to provide dementia care can actively exacerbate the behavioural and psychiatric symptoms of dementia (BPSD) creating additional stress for workers, patients and families.
The Chair of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert handed down the inquiry report into care and management of dementia in Australia, with a focus on BPSD.
Senator Siewert said Australia was not yet prepared to address the increasing prevalence of dementia and provide the best possible care to patients.
The committee has made 18 recommendations to improve the care of people living with dementia.
“The number of people with dementia in Australia is expected to rise to around 900,000 people by 2050, making this one of our most pressing health concerns. Without action to improve dementia care, pressure will increase on our community, residential and aged care and health systems, and people will not receive the care they deserve,” Senator Siewert said.
“Without doubt, one of the most confronting aspects of this inquiry was the issue of restraints – both physical and chemical, in the treatment of people with dementia and BPDS.
“Evidence to the committee indicated that unfortunately, medication, locked rooms and physical restraints are all measures which are used. The committee heard evidence that in some instances, restraints were used for convenience and the protection of facilities, rather than the clinical needs of the patient.
“However, the committee received evidence and visited facilities that demonstrated best practice, and it is clear that if these best-practice measures are undertaken, the use of restraints can be virtually eliminated.
“The committee took these issues very seriously and recommended a number of measures, including improved mechanisms for the reporting and monitoring of medication and the development mechanisms to report all forms of restraint used in aged care facilities.
“A focus on person-centred care, appropriate planning and design and improved staff training are all vital aspects of reducing the use of restraints and improving the quality of care patients receive.
“The committee’s recommendations cover the need for investments and improvements in community, respite and residential care, with the need to focus on a person-centred approach. The committee heard that without proper skills to manage dementia, and a proper understanding of symptoms, symptoms and BPSD can be exacerbated, causing stress for patients, staff, carers and families,” the Senator said.
“Current aged care services are not always best suited to the sometimes complex needs of dementia patients. While there is no one model for the perfect approach to care, the committee heard and saw excellent examples from providers who providing support to people with dementia, with a focus on person-centred care, high quality staff training, and the planning and design of facilities.
“A key aspect of improving dementia care is proper support and training for the aged care workforce. The recommendations seek to ensure that effective and innovative training tools are utilised around the country, and that the Commonwealth supports this process.”