Flinders University is leading a national program to assist people living with dementia and their carers around Australia.
The new Australian Government-funded project, with a $770,517 NHMRC grant, aims to improve post-diagnosis care for people with mild to moderate symptoms of dementia through three methods – evidence-based occupational therapy, exercise and carer support.
“These three guidelines focus on promoting independence, delaying functional decline and reducing carer stress and ill health and are relevant for the majority – up to 85% – of people with mild to moderate symptoms of dementia who are living in the community,” says Dr Laver, an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow from the Rehabilitation, Aged and Extended Care research group at Flinders University.
With more than 353,800 Australians with dementia, with more than 1.2 million Australians involved in their care, the cost of dementia on the health and aged care systems is calculated to be at least $4.9 billion per annum.
The project will also involve establishing a national a national quality collaborative to implement guideline recommendations.
It will involve other Flinders researchers Professor Maria Crotty, Monica Cations, Associate Professor Billingsley Kaambwa and Associate Professor Craig Whitehead along with experts from Griffith University and University of Sydney as part of the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre,
The aim of the project is to implement and sustain improvements for people living with dementia at 30 sites across Australia.
The project involves:
- Recruitment of up to 30 health professionals across Australia who will take on the role of ‘implementation clinicians’
- The implementation clinicians will be trained and supported to develop and then enact a theory informed site-specific implementation plan.
- Testing the efficacy of incorporating patient mediated tools (educational leaflets and prompting checklists).
- Running a social media campaign to increase awareness about more effective post-diagnostic care for people with dementia and their carers.
The project is called ‘Agents of Change’: Improving post diagnosis care for people with dementia and their carers through the establishment of a National Quality Collaborative to implement guideline recommendations.
Dr Laver, an experienced occupational therapist, has recently coordinated the development of the Clinical Practice Guidelines and Principles of Care for People with Dementia and subsequent dissemination activities and development of companion resources.