DTA news update

Reducing ineffective and dangerous medication use 

By DTA Director Andrew Stafford
An alarmingly high proportion of people living with dementia in residential care use antipsychotic medications, even though they are of limited benefit for the majority of ‘symptoms’ for which they are prescribed.
Concerns continue to be raised by dementia care practitioners and advocacy groups about the potentially unnecessary use of these prescription medications. In a recent statement, Associate Professor Edward Strivens from the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (ANZSGM) calls for increased use of alternatives to medications, and for better access to quality medical care.

He rightly argues that the general rules of medicine still apply in residential aged care – medicines should only be used to treat medical conditions in line with professional guidelines.
There is now more than 30 years’ worth of data suggesting that antipsychotic medications don’t work very well for most people with responsive behaviours, and may cause serious adverse effects. Despite these issues, it seems that their widespread use continues in some – not all - residential care facilities. Most clinical guidelines now recommend that antipsychotic medications should only be considered when all non-medication approaches have failed, and only for severe symptoms of aggression and/ or agitation. 
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Taking the rights of people with dementia seriously

Scalabrini's newest facility marks the emergence of a new paradigm in Australia, writes DTA Executive Director Richard Fleming.  

A few times in my career I've had the privilege of watching a building grow from an idea into a beautiful reality.

The Village by Scalabrini, opened by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt in Sydney last month, began with an idea, a tiny spark that was translated into a magnificent building through hard work and a clear vision.

It was the vision of former Scalabrini CEO Chris Rigby, carried forward by current CEO Elaine Griffin and Scalabrini's board of directors.

The Scalabrini vision for people living with dementia is full of life. It is about seeing the person living with dementia as a full person with rights and autonomy. A person who is worth getting to know and worth serving.

Read the full article in the Australian Ageing Agenda

Free online dementia courses in November

"These online courses are wonderful and I recommend them to everyone who is in the role of a carer in a facility or in the community. They are short, easy to understand, and the information is invaluable.”
Allison Brodie, Assistant in Nursing, Trainer and Assessor
Enrol now for courses starting 6 November

Skype calls with family members make a difference

Lifestyle Manager Alana OKeefe and resident Elizabeth Walker were part of a DTA Fellowship project to connect people living with dementia and remote family members. 

Video chat and Skype calls were piloted in a dementia-specific unit at Homestyle Aged Care Services in Victoria, with residents selected on the basis of living with dementia in its advanced stages, and having relatives living too far away to visit regularly.

Residents were enthusiastic about sharing parts of their life stories that the calls had triggered, and this in turn helped staff learn more about the residents. 

We shared this case study and others to celebrate DTA's 2nd birthday in October.

Read more case studies here

A unifying vision of care

Have you ever heard the laughter of a life fully lived?
Or been lost in the stories of someone who has traveled a million roads — and back?
We have.
Have you ever seen a person confined to a single room, whose only crime is to grow old?
We have.
Have you ever pondered why it is that being old is somehow being less?
We have.
In a world of youthful beauty, constant change and shortened use by dates, we have seen how
the simple act of stopping to learn, listen to and help our community’s older members,
has for many, become too hard.
We seek to change that.
We are the people who have the privilege to care for our ageing and we believe, deeply,
that access to good care must be easier and that the very notion of caring must change
from reactive and daunting — to proactive and inspiring.
We champion the simple ethos of a life well lived.
We want to inspire people to want to care; not feel the burden of having to.
And we strive to enable people to properly care — for their neighbours, friends or family.
Above all, we exist to enhance life through care —
from the moment the smallest help is needed to the moment the final breath is taken.
As aged care professionals we choose to care;
everyday, for every type of human in every type of condition.
Because ultimately, we believe how we care for our ageing
is a powerful reflection on who we are as a nation
*Professor John Pollaers' Vision of Care 
A matter of care: Australia's Aged Care Workforce Strategy

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