Behaviour support programs

The Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS), Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRT) and the Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) form part of a three-tiered approach to behaviour support for people experiencing behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Each tier provides support for symptoms of increasing severity: DBMAS for mild to moderate symptoms; SBRT for more severe BPSD; and the SDCP transitional residential care for those with very severe BPSD.

Between January to June 2018 and January to June 2023 there was a 161% increase in the total number of referrals that were supported by DSA (DBMAS, SBRT) – a 153% increase for the DBMAS and 235% increase for SBRTs. This increase is likely due to increased awareness of DSA, combined with a growing awareness of the importance of supporting people experiencing behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia in Australia. Inadequate care for this group was highlighted in the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety.

Select a 6-month time period (between 1 January to 30 June 2018 and 1 January to 30 June 2023) in Figure 11.1 to explore the profile of referrals supported by DSA (DBMAS, SBRT) during this time.

Figure 11.1: Profile of referrals supported by Dementia Support Australia (DSA)

A panel of figures including bar graphs and pie charts showing demographic characteristics and service use information of referrals to Dementia Support Australia in 6 month periods between January to June 2018, and January to June 2023. The majority of referrals were for people living in residential aged care, and those living in Major cities from the most populous states (New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland). The majority of referrals were for accessing the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service rather than Severe Behaviour Response Teams. The most common type of dementia recorded was Alzheimer’s disease, closely followed by Unspecified dementia.

Between January and June 2023, there were just over 9,200 referrals to DSA (DBMAS, SBRT). This had slightly decreased by 1.8% (from nearly 9,400 referrals) from the number of referrals in the previous 6 months (July to December 2022).

From January 2020 onwards, DSA were able to continue to deliver services when there were changes in public health policy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was achieved by adhering to social distancing and infection control requirements, as well as providing video conferencing services. DSA also released a resource for aged care services with tips for managing a person living with dementia whose behaviour may be impacting their care.