New models of dementia care show benefits for people with dementia and their carers

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today released the results of an evaluation of trials of short-term and longer-term care interventions for people with dementia-related high care needs.

The results of the Aged Care Innovative Pool Dementia Pilot, which gathered information from 249 care recipients and 219 family carers across nine different projects, are presented in the National evaluation of the Aged Care Innovative Pool Dementia Pilot: final report.

Report author, Ms Cathy Hales, said the Dementia Pilot projects have enabled service providers to design and deliver care packages with a dementia-specific focus.

'This means more care hours per week are available than from most mainstream care packages. It also means more responsive and flexible respite care and a greater capacity to address the needs of family carers. Assistance was delivered by staff trained in dementia care and case management and service coordination,' she said.

Ms Hales said the Innovative Pool Dementia Pilot also highlighted a shortage of specialist services for people with dementia in regional and rural areas.

'The evaluation found that specialist services are needed to operate alongside dementia specific care services to successfully assist people with dementia to remain at home for as long as possible.

'Diagnosis, medication review and behaviour management by specialist psycho-geriatric clinicians were shown to be crucial elements of multidisciplinary dementia care,' she said.

Another area highlighted by the report is the strain placed on family members and others who care for people with dementia.
'Family carers often reported high levels of carer strain, such as anxiety and insomnia. High level carer support and dementia-specific respite care services, delivered through the Pilot, assisted with alleviating some of that strain,' Ms Hales said.

Pilot services directly addressed the causes of strain for individual carers, providing them with assurance of ongoing assistance and delivering services that allow carers to resume their enjoyment of life.

Models of short-term care (8-12 weeks duration) addressed issues of diagnosis and management of dementia, as well as the increased support needs of people with dementia following hospitalisation or when their existing support systems broke down.
Models of long-term care intervention focussed on delivering home care packages that are the equivalent of high level residential care.

28 July 2006

Further information: Ms Cathy Hales, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1258

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.