It may surprise you to learn that people with dementia account for 52% of all residents in residential aged care.
Dementia is not one specific disease, but describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain, including changes to thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life, and older people living with dementia may need the additional supports available in residential aged care, such as those provided at Banksia Lodge.
As an organisation, the aim of Banksia Villages is to be the leader in providing person-centred, innovative, flexible care, accommodation and professional services for older persons.
To achieve this aim, CEO Graham Wise recognises that it’s vital to invest in training for Banksia staff, and to support 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 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 incorporated 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 learnt 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 in some 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 who investigated how Banksia can use its environment (including the buildings and gardens of 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 also included a range of learning topics delivered both face to face and on line. This included the nationally accredited Dementia Essentials course which explored 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.”