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Dementia Care in South Going from Strength to Strength

World Alzheimer’s Day - 21st September 2014: Dementia Care in South Island Going from Strength to Strength

18th September 2014

This Alzheimer’s Day, people with dementia and their families living in the South Island can take comfort in the fact that better, improved dementia care and support is becoming increasingly available, according to the South Island Alliance’s Health of Older People’s group (HOPSLA).

HOPSLA is part of the South Island Health Alliance - a partnership of the five South Island DHBs that supports a clinically and financially sustainable South Island health system. One of its strategic priorities is “improving the quality of care for people with dementia”, and this last year members have seen several positive developments in the way in which dementia care is being delivered and supported across the wider South Island.

Walking in Another’s Shoes Training Reaches Hundreds More The dedicated dementia care training programme “Walking in Another’s Shoes (WIAS) has continued to grow from strength to strength over the past 12 months, with more health professionals and carer/support staff across both Islands now accessing the innovative programme.

- 328 more health care staff completed the gold-standard Walking in Another’s Shoes training in the last 12 months, up 340% from last year. - A dedicated training coordinator now appointed in each South Island DHB - Trainers have teamed up with Alzheimers NZ, Careerforce and Health Workforce New Zealand to support the delivery of person-centred dementia care training to home-based carers - Regional services delivering results in reducing demand on care beds

To view life from another person’s perspective or to ‘walk in their shoes’ is at the heart of the learning programme which is especially designed for carers working in dementia care. Latest training figures show that in the 2013/2014 year a total of 328 home based support and other health professionals received the training, an increase of over 300% from the previous year, when 96 trainees graduated.

Following its original inception in 2012 by Maria Scott at Canterbury District Health Board, WIAS has been under the governance of the HOPSLA, who is responsible for co-ordinating the development and roll out of the innovative programme across the South Island.

The popularity of the training course and its expansion across the South is a reflection of the continuing high quality of training being delivered, as well a credit to the course content and design. As Dr Jenny Keightley, Chair of HOPSLA explains: “The programme is still viewed as the ‘gold-standard’ for residential care for people with dementia, and because it focuses on what a person can do rather than what they can’t it means that hopeful, achievable goals are identified in rehabilitation as well as pragmatic goals around support and minimising harm.”

Since 2013 the training has been rolled out across the South Island and a dedicated WIAS Coordinator has been employed by each South Island DHB to manage the delivery of the programme. These last few months have seen the WIAS programmes impact stretching North with two programmes now established in Hawkes Bay DHB and an educator recently employed in Mid-Central DHB.

During the next 12 months HOPSLA will be extending the programme, so that two new resources will be developed. Dr Keightley explains: “We are planning a masterclass for people who have completed training, which is a support and educational group to help keep trainees current and up to date with their skills. We also hope to develop new resources which are specifically designed for managers of aged residential care facilities, to assist them in fully supporting the delivery of the programme.”

WIAS Joins Forces with Careerforce and Alzheimer’s NZ on new training project
During the past few months the Walking in Another’s Shoes (WIAS) trainers have been sharing their expertise in delivering person-centred care thanks to a collaboration with Alzheimers NZ, Careerforce and Health Workforce NZ, to support a new training programme for people delivering dementia care.

The $1.2 million project is funded by the Ministry of Health will give priority to training those workers who provide home-based dementia care. This new initiative will see approximately 2000 workers gaining skills in recognising, understanding and supporting people living with dementia. From this July the WIAS trainers will be providing training material and supporting the train the trainer model to be rolled out to home care staff.

Regional Initiatives - Support for Home-based Dementia Care Delivers Results in South Canterbury
Several regional initiatives underway in South Island communities are also seeing increasingly positive outcomes for Alzheimer’s patients, staff and their families. One example of these can be found in South Canterbury, where the number of people with dementia being sent out of town due to bed shortages in the region has dramatically declined over the last few months.

Usually eight people a month are sent out of town for dementia care due to insufficient dementia beds being available locally, however currently only two patients remain out of town. This reduction is being recognised as a reflection of the increasingly positive work being done locally for dementia patients, particularly the Presbyterian Support Community First service – which promotes a restorative model of care, assessing the needs of the person with dementia, the stress on their carer, and looks at whether they can both be supported with a package of care to allow the client to remain in their own home.

The resulting reduction in demand on dementia beds is being welcomed as a positive outcome for patients as well as the DHB and the community. Michael Parker, CEO of Presbyterian Support Timaru, and member of HOPSLA commented about the change: “Our staff have been working very hard to deliver the service since 2011 and we are delighted to see that it is making a difference to the lives of those with dementia and their families. Keeping people with dementia in their own home for as long as possible is something we know is better for the person and it is good to see this initiative supporting this outcome for many.”

The developments outlined above are contributing to an overall improved model of care for dementia patients and their families. Dr Keightley explains: “As more and more of our population are living to an old age, it is more important than ever that our system supports quality, person-centred dementia care, in a way which is sustainable and effective for patients and their families. Our focus on delivering gold-standard training is seeing real results for people with dementia and their family and carers, as well as directly supporting DHBs and communities to deliver quality care within their means. “


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