Home care providers are moving to ensure their frontline workers are better equipped to provide care for people with dementia.

Dr Claudia Meyer

Bolton Clarke is rolling out a new tool across its home care services to help people with dementia understand risks so they can exercise greater choice about the activities they undertake.

It can also help minimise conflict between people with dementia and their carers.

The Enabling Choices electronic tool grew out of a previous Bolton Clarke Research Institute (BCRI) project that used conversation cards to help health professionals have conversations with clients around self-care, mobility and driving.

The new tool, designed by specialist dementia nurses and Bolton Clarke’s digital team, includes picture prompts and plain language talk about risk.

It also allows conversation notes to be printed as a dignity in risk record for clients and families, and can be used over several sessions moving from simpler topics to more sensitive issues if required.

Dignity of risk is a requirement under the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

Understanding perceptions around risk

BCRI research fellow Claudia Meyer says the tool helps identify perceptions around risk and provides information and ideas to aid decision making.

There is a potential for conflict about what’s deemed to be risky activities … between people with dementia … their carers and their healthcare providers.

Dr Claudia Meyer

“There is potential for conflict in what is deemed to be risky in activities of daily living between people with dementia and memory loss, their carers and their healthcare providers,” she said.

“As clinicians we have a duty of care to keep people safe, but what the client thinks about risk with things like driving or going out might be different to what the carer or family thinks and is really important.

“This tool allows for some guided conversations and keeps notes of each discussion and outcomes, so it can also be used with dignity of risk forms to record the decisions people make.”

Positive response

The tool has been piloted with frontline workers, people with dementia and their carers and Dr Meyer says the response was positive.

“Our employees who have tried it love it and say it makes it so much easier to have those tricky conversations and keep track of decisions made.”

Bolton Clarke says the new tool will help the organisation support around 5000 home care clients with a formal diagnosis of dementia, as well as those with cognitive impairment.

Dr Meyer says the organisation is looking at expanding its use to residential facilities.

Dementia resources

Home Instead founders Sarah and Martin Warner

The Wicking Centre’s Professor James Vickers says it’s vital that evidence-based, contemporary education is available to frontline aged care staff to ensure the highest levels of care for people with dementia living at home.

Meanwhile, in-home care provider Home Instead has partnered with the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre giving staff providing care with people with dementia access to specialised education and training.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Home Instead to deliver a package of learning resources to their staff,” he said.

Home Instead Australia co-founder Sarah Warner said the partnership would provide the organisation’s CAREGivers with access to current education resources to increase their understanding of dementia.

“(The) specialised training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to provide quality care for every client,” she said.

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