A campaign has been launched to promote a free accredited dementia education program to encourage aged care staff to increase their skills.
Delivered through Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning, the 12-month online course – from which successful students will receive a Certificate IV in Dementia Practice – has the backing of the peak body’s national patron Ita Buttrose.
In a video message released on Thursday, Ms Buttrose said – after caring for her father who had vascular dementia – she knew firsthand how important it was to have skilled care workers and leaders who understand the disease and the need for person-centred care.
“This qualification is an excellent opportunity to explore further study in dementia care,” Ms Buttrose said.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said – as well as enhancing the skills and knowledge of existing workers – the training program would strengthen the capacity of graduates to be dementia practice leaders.
“Strong leadership was recognised as a critical element of sustained improvements by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and in response, the federal government.”
The creation of an integrated pathway for students into higher education and dementia leadership is something that Dementia Australia had been working towards for many years she added. “I am delighted that we can formalise this process.”
Designed and delivered by Dementia Australia as part of Dementia Training Australia, the program – one of four Leadership and Practice Change programs announced at the end of October last year – includes 14 units of competency. Students will be able to develop skills in such areas as ethical principles, and effective communication and leadership.
This week Dementia Australia has announced a new partnership with the University of Tasmania that will credit eligible graduates for one unit – Effective Communication for Dementia Care – within its Diploma of Dementia Care.
Professor James Vickers – director of the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania – said he was delighted Dementia Australia had developed the course.
“Our partnership recognising learning achieved through the Certificate IV qualification towards the Diploma of Dementia Care at the University of Tasmania will help build expertise in dementia further, providing a skilled workforce that will boost the quality of dementia care nationally.”
The three other free programs available to aged care workers are:
- Demonstrating Dementia Leadership: a program that explores the knowledge and skills required to lead teams and individuals by modelling good practice and demonstrating how to influence team performance. The content covers two units of competency from the 10993NAT Certificate IV in Dementia Practice: BSBLDR411 Demonstrate leadership in the workplace, and BSBLDR414 Lead team effectiveness
- Leading Quality Dementia Care: a program that explores the benefits of self-leadership in the context of supporting people living with dementia, working collaboratively with staff, working in partnership with families and thriving within organisational frameworks. The program provides four modules of learning including trust, communication, diversity and stress management
- Community of Practice: designed to build relationships to support members to share knowledge and lead improvements in practice. This national network of CoPs will build on the success of the previous program that was funded by the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation and evaluated by Swinburne University of Technology.
With 65 per cent of all those in residential aged care having a moderate to severe cognitive impairment and 70 per cent of the almost half-a-million Australians with dementia living in the community accessing in-home care, staff at all levels must be appropriately trained in dementia care said Ms McCabe.
“Dementia education leads to fewer high-risk incidents, lower rates of inappropriate use of medication, and more positive staff attitudes and morale – which ultimately results in better service delivery and quality of life for people living with dementia.”
For more information about the Certificate IV course click here.