Knowing that 52% of all residents in aged care are living with dementia, aged care provider Banksia Villages, situated on the NSW South Coast make it a priority to ensure that staff are well equipped to help residents and clients with dementia live as happily and comfortably as possible.
Dementia affects 500,000 Australians and is on track to directly affect 1.6 million by 2050 without a medical breakthrough.
Banksia CEO Graham Wise said that it’s vital to continue investing in training for Banksia staff, and supporting them with educational and professional development opportunities.
“Through our ongoing relationship with Dementia Training Australia, we have been thrilled to partner with them for a thoroughly comprehensive dementia training program for our residential aged care and home care staff,” he said.
Throughout the first part of 2021, 38 staff at Banksia have participated in one of four strands of training, all designed to improve the lives of Banksia residents and clients who are living with dementia.
The comprehensive program incorporates face-to-face training sessions, online training, and consultancy groups.
The Responsive Behaviours Consultancy Group training was an 8-week program designed to reduce and address dementia-related responsive behaviours. The staff who attended were able to gain an in-depth understanding of the reasons for certain behaviours, and develop a range of strategies for addressing these. Registered Nurse, Beverley Plata who attended this training, was most impressed.
“We learned new skills and gained knowledge on how to provide appropriate care, and developed an action plan to improve quality of life for these residents. The difference in the well-being of some of our residents is really noticeable” she said. Beverley and the other participants will become “Responsive Behaviour Champions” and will provide education and leadership to other Banksia staff, now that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed.
Another aspect of the program was the development of a project group that investigated how Banksia can use its environment (including the buildings and gardens of residential aged care facility Banksia Lodge) to better support people living with dementia. The 12 staff in the Environments Consultancy Group have been working closely with Dementia Training Australia Architect Nick Seemann, to develop an action plan to improve the Banksia environment. They are currently focussing on improving access to the beautiful Lodge Sensory Garden and enhancing the residents’ dining experience.
The innovative training program includes a range of learning topics delivered both face-to-face and online. Within this is the nationally accredited Dementia Essentials course which explores strategies to assist with good communication, planning, developing appropriate activities, and understanding behaviour in people living with dementia.
Banksia Villages Project Manager, Liz Paterson-Finlay has been delighted with the outcomes of the program. “We’ve seen an improvement in the comfort and welfare of residents already” she said. “It’s also been wonderful to see staff blossoming as they become more confident in their knowledge and skills – the whole organisation has benefited from this program.”