Calls for dementia education to be part of workforce discussion

Maree McCabe AM, CEO, Dementia Australia

Dementia Australia today reiterated the need for regular dementia education for aged care workers, as recommended in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said any discussion informing the Jobs and Skills Summit in September to focus on building numbers and capacity of the aged care workforce, in the short and long term, must include quality dementia care and education as an issue.

The Albanese Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit will be held on September 1- 2 at Parliament House Canberra, and will cover five broad themes:

  • Maintaining full employment and growing productivity.
  • Boosting job security and wages.
  • Lifting participation and reducing barriers to employment.
  • Delivering a high-quality labour force through skills, training and migration.
  • Maximising opportunities in the industries of the future.

Attendance at the summit will be limited and invite-only, with Treasury to invite submissions and engage with the wider community over the next 12 months. Further information on the summit.

“While it is crucial to have aged care providers and union representatives at the Summit, it is equally important that those able to build the capacity of the workforce and develop meaningful and rewarding career pathways are also included,” Ms McCabe said.

“Embedding a minimum level of compulsory dementia care education is as important as increasing staffing numbers and wages.

“In the short-term, upskilling the current workforce using existing tools such as the ‘Ask Annie’ mobile learning app and the government-funded ‘Dementia Essentials’ course will begin to alleviate some of the pressures and challenges of caring for someone living with dementia.

“We know 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.

“When people living with dementia receive care from professionals that have completed dementia education, fewer incidences of changed behaviour are experienced.

“With a longer-term focus and vision that includes dementia specialisation in all pathways to nursing and aged-care qualifications, we can ensure aged care and dementia will become a more specialised and attractive career to pursue for healthcare professionals and will attract the qualified staffing numbers needed for the future.

“Approaching workforce issues through a focus on the number of staff, without requiring staff to have completed dementia care education, will result in more under-skilled and more underqualified staff and will guarantee the issues identified by the Royal Commission will continue.

“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, all staff employed and entrusted to provide care must be appropriately trained in dementia care.

 “The sooner the whole aged care workforce is accessing appropriate dementia care education and training the sooner we will begin to see the changes needed to improve the health, lifestyle and care outcomes for people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers.

“We welcome the Federal Government making improving aged care a priority and we look forward to continuing to work together with the Government to ensure quality dementia care and compulsory dementia care education are embedded within this priority in the ongoing aged care reform process.”


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