St John Western Australia (WA) has just completed a new custom training program to support clients living with dementia.
The free training program was developed by Dementia Training Australia (DTA) and provided to St John’s front-line Patient Transport Officers, with the aim of building communication skills when caring for people living with dementia, enhance awareness of person-centred care, understand strategies that prevent escalation of distress, and how to optimise transitions of care.
Dementia affects 500,000 Australians and is on track to directly affect 1.6 million by 2050 without a medical breakthrough.
St John WA Metropolitan Manager Clinical Education, Dave Cutler, said the program was an important part of the St John WA Transport Officer training as they regularly interact with older patients. Whilst dementia is not a part of normal ageing, it does occur more often in older adults.
“The response from our team has been phenomenal. Our overarching goal with this program is to improve the overall patient experience when being transported by our officers and provide a sense of comfort to any family, friends, or carers at the scene,” Mr. Cutler said.
“Dementia poses a unique challenge to healthcare providers, as patients at different stages of dementia will experience different challenges. All symptoms of dementia can impact how we communicate with patients, from minor memory loss to an inability to communicate. This is why a lot of the training focused on building rapport with the patient and involving them in decisions where possible, with aim of easing the burden of some of the daily challenges they face.”
Dementia Training Australia Director WA and SA Ellie Newman said that this was the first time DTA had collaborated with St John WA to provide a tailored training program to meet their needs.
“The customised program involving online modules and face-to-face learning developed by DTA for St John WA sets a standard for dementia education with an important group who care for vulnerable people not only in metropolitan Perth but right across Western Australia,” Ms. Newman said.