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New allied health resources supporting people living with dementia and their carers

New allied health resources supporting people living with dementia and their carers

The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has partnered with Alzheimer’s Australia to develop two guides which highlight the many ways in which allied health professionals can contribute to the everyday lives of people living with dementia, their carers and families.

Better health for people living with dementia: A guide on the role of allied health professionals provides information and ideas for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals about a range of evidence-based allied health interventions that support people living with dementia and their carers.

Allied health professionals and you: A guide for people living with dementia and their carers empowers consumers to partner with allied health professionals to live life to the fullest. An estimated 1.2 million people are involved in the care of a person with dementia1 and require as much support as possible in this often challenging role. The consumer guide covers topics for carers and people living with dementia such as adjusting to change, health and wellbeing, speaking up, living at home with dementia, what allied health is and how it can help, and how to find a relevant allied health professional.

ACI Chief Executive, Dr Nigel Lyons said that the release of the resources during Dementia Awareness Month, which this year has a theme of “you are not alone”, is a timely reminder of the important role all members of the multidisciplinary team play in the ongoing health and wellbeing of consumers.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia2, and there is no cure. There are many types of dementia and the rate and course of the progression varies between individuals and types.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO, Maree McCabe said, “Itis so important that Allied Health Professionals understand the complexities of dementia and how best to communicate and interact with people who are living with dementia and their carers. Together we can work to ensure the best quality of life can be achieved, so people can continue to live life that is meaningful to them, after a diagnosis of dementia.”

Information and support for people living with dementia and their carers is imperative, along with an active lifestyle, in maintaining a good quality of life. Allied health professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, speech pathologists and dietitians, are well placed to provide many aspects of the care for people living with the condition or caring for someone with dementia.

Joan Jackman is the wife of Michael, who had younger onset dementia. Joan was involved in the project and said that she hopes that the guides will “serve as a springboard for greater involvement of allied health professionals with people who have dementia, increase access for people to allied health services, and allow better understanding for consumers about the types allied health services available.”

The guides were developed by the ACI Aged Health Network’s Allied Health Subgroup and funded by Alzheimer’s Australia National Quality Dementia Care Initiative with support from J.O & J.R Wicking Trust. Widespread consultation including people with dementia, carers and allied health professionals was undertaken as part of the development process.

Both the consumer and clinician guide are available for download at:

Background

Dementia

Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by conditions affecting the brain. It is a neurodegenerative process that affects thinking, communication, behaviour and the ability to do everyday tasks.

There are currently more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia, with this number expected to rise to 400,000 in less than five years. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050.

There are approximately 25,100 people in Australia with Younger Onset Dementia (a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65; including people as young as 30). Three in 10 people over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 people over 65 have dementia.

NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation

The ACI works with clinicians, consumers and managers to design and promote better healthcare for NSW. It does this through service redesign and evaluation, specialist advice on healthcare innovation, initiatives including guidelines and models of care, implementation support, knowledge sharing and continuous capability building.

ACI Clinical Networks, Taskforces and Institutes provide a unique forum for people to collaborate across clinical specialities and regional and service boundaries to develop successful healthcare innovations.

Alzheimer’s Australia

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information.

For information and advice, contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. www.fightdementia.org

Media contacts

NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation

Ashley Langton | Communications Manager
Ph: 9464 4710 | E: ashley.langton@health.nsw.gov.au

Alzheimer’s Australia

Bianca Armytage | Executive Manager Media and Communication
Ph: 0407 019 430 | E: bianca.armytage@alzheimers.org.au


  1. Alzheimer’s Australia, (2011) Pfizer Health Report Issue #45 – Dementia, Pfizer Australia
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Causes of Death, Australia, 2013: Cat no. 3303.0