It is predicted that by 2050, there will be close to 900,000 people living with dementia in Australia. This is a significant increase as compared to the 342,800 Australians currently living with the disease. Dementia is a growing problem and it is growing at a rapid rate. Thankfully, one in-home aged care provider is making a serious difference by working to create a dementia-friendly Australia. This year, Home Instead Senior Care has introduced a national public education program to assist businesses in Australia to become more dementia-friendly.
The purpose of the program is to help businesses understand dementia through training and education and to assist in making changes that will have a positive impact on those with dementia. 'Awareness, understanding and acceptance of dementia is so important but we want to take it a step further and put this understanding into practice. We assist businesses with changing their systems in regards to communication, lighting, signage and environment – all of which can have a huge impact," says Martin Warner, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Australia.
'Many people that suffer from demetia can become isolated and unfortunately, we as Australians are implicit in this. If people living with dementia do not feel supported in their local community and face barriers to social inclusion, it is all too easy for them to shut off from society, which only exacerbates their feelings of confusion and loneliness," says Martin.
The definition of a dementia-friendly community, as stated by Home Instead, is a place where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported and can continue to contribute to community life. 'We want people with dementia to feel included, involved, encouraged and supported in their community. It is so vital that they can retain their independence, choice and control over their day-to-day lives," says Martin.
The national public education program involves a free thirty minute training workshop with Home Instead Senior Care educators who will teach employees and employers how to maintain a dementia friendly environment. The session covers everything from how to identify someone with dementia to how to communicate with them and how to support them in their service experience. This is not a one-off session and training will be available on an on-going basis. Home Instead Senior Care awards participating businesses with a formal certificate of training to certify that the business has completed the training and is actively creating a dementia friendly Australia.
Home Instead Senior Care have been running a similar program in the UK and have reached over 20,000 people since 2012. In Australia, the team hope to match and indeed surpass that number.
In June 2015, Home Instead Senior Care began their pilot program in Brisbane, with the likes of Woolworths, Kmart, Wallace Bishop, Taking Shape Fashion and Brisbane City Council Library all participated in the training. This year, Home Instead are taking the program Australia-wide with workshops in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Kmart Toowong in Brisbane's Inner West is working towards becoming a Dementia Friendly business, with 10 team members who have completed the training to date. Store Manager, Kim Esposito said Kmart is committed to supporting our diverse customers visiting the store.
'We are always looking at how we can better support our customers in their shopping experience so we were very pleased to participate in Home Instead's dementia-friendly training. Being aware of the challenges people with dementia face will allow us to be more supportive of members in the community and make Kmart Toowong a more dementia-friendly store to shop in."
Dementia care, education, awareness, advocacy and support is a long-standing commitment of Home Instead Senior Care. In 2007, they developed the first specialist dementia care training program for CAREGivers in collaboration with Alzheimer's Australia, providing them the knowledge, skills and understanding to best support someone with dementia at home. In 2011, they developed their resource guide for carers and families of which they distribute over 50,000 copies year. In 2014 they launched a family dementia education program along with the advanced dementia care training program for CAREGivers.
In 2015, we are extending our efforts in the fight against dementia to increase awareness and understanding of the disease for communities as a whole," says Martin.
For more information on Home Instead Senior Care visit www.homeinstead.com.au
Question: Are you surprised that by 2050, there will be close to 900,000 people living with dementia in Australia?
Martin Warner: The statistics are staggering, it is almost hard to fathom. As the world continues to search for a cure, it is essential that, as a community, we work towards creating an inclusive, supportive environment for people living with dementia and their families.
Question: Can you talk about Home Instead Senior Care aims to make Australia more dementia-friendly?
Martin Warner: Home Instead Senior Care is a national network of 26 franchise offices. As a collective group, we can educate and empower local businesses and organisations to better understand and support people living with dementia at a grass-roots community level.
Question: Can you talk about the purpose of the Home Instead Senior Care program?
Martin Warner: Our mission is to Change the Face of Ageing by enhancing the lives of ageing adults and their families. For over ten years, our leadership, care, innovation, education, advocacy and support for individuals, carers and families living with dementia has been central to achieving this mission.
In 2015, we wanted to extend our efforts in the fight against dementia to include individuals, carers, families and communities – including businesses, service providers and community organisations.
Creating a Dementia Friendly Australia: Educating & Empowering Organisations aims to raise awareness of dementia and empower local organisations to better assist and support people with dementia by enhancing their knowledge, understanding, awareness and approach to dementia. It is a free, national public education program that involves a 30 minute training workshop delivered by HISC and is available to any organisations who want to work with us to become Dementia Friendly.
Question: How is Kmart working with you on the Home Instead Senior Care program?
Martin Warner: Kmart Toowong have participated in our dementia awareness training and continue to work with their employees to make small changes in the way they operate that will make a big difference in the day-to-day lives of people living with dementia.
Question: How can we assist in making changes that will have a positive impact on those with dementia?
Martin Warner: We can all make simple changes that work towards becoming Dementia Friendly such as:
Understanding dementia and memory loss.
Providing respectful, responsive and accessible services to people with dementia.
Training and educating employees to understand dementia and how to communicate effectively with people who have dementia.
Providing support for people with disabilities such as dementia to continue with paid employment.
Providing volunteering opportunities for people with dementia.
Making small changes that will have great impact on the lives of people with dementia. This includes:
Question: What advice do you have for the families of newly diagnosed dementia patients?
Martin Warner: Home Instead Senior Care's Dementia Resource Guide for Carers and Families is a free resource that helps people understand dementia, how it can affect people and provides a variety of practical support strategies and communication techniques.
There is also a myriad of dementia support services and organisations nationally, including Alzheimer's Australia, The National Dementia Helpline and The Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service.
And of course, there is always professional care and respite available from a Home Instead CAREGiver.
Question: What is Home Instead Senior Care?
Martin Warner: Home Instead Senior Care is a specialist, national provider of high quality in-home care and support for older Australians. We help with a range of personal and lifestyle needs while providing welcome companionship.
Our services include assistance with personal care, light household duties, meal preparation, medication reminders, and transport to appointments, shopping and social outings.
We take personal responsibility for providing the best in-home care and support to meet our clients' needs and are committed to addressing the individual and national challenges of Australia's ageing population.
Importantly, our CAREGivers are caring, compassionate, dependable and receive specialist training in dementia care.
Research has shown the best place for a person with memory loss is in familiar surroundings. Home Instead Senior Care is committed to helping people with dementia to live in their familiar home and community environment.
We provide specialist one-on-one care for individuals and families living with dementia.
Our CAREGivers complete our specialist, best-practice Dementia Training Program, developed in collaboration with Alzheimer's Australia.
We educate and assist families living with dementia through our Dementia Family Education Program.
We support people with dementia to live longer in their own homes by:
Maintaining a safe environment;
Managing changing behaviours;
Providing nutritious meals;
Providing mind-stimulating activities;
Creating social interaction; and
Supervising activities of daily living.
Question: What is a dementia-friendly community?
Martin Warner: A Dementia Friendly Community is a place where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported, and can continue to contribute to community life. A place where people are aware of and understand dementia, and people with dementia feel included, involved and are encouraged and supported to retain independence, choice and control over their day-to-day lives.
Interview by Brooke Hunter