19 March 2019
A new training program pioneered in Tasmania is promising earlier dementia diagnosis and better support for patients, their families and carers.
The Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, officially launched General Practice Training Tasmania’s Dementia Care Training and Education Program today and said the module could have national application.
“Training our GPs and practice nurses is of vital importance to dementia care in Australia,” said Minister Wyatt.
“Securing early diagnosis provides important opportunities for treatment to improve symptoms, to get your affairs in order and smooth the path for the future, and to access community services and supports.
“While general dementia literacy among health professionals is alarmingly low, evaluation of this program has already demonstrated promising changes in doctors’ clinical behaviour, due to improved awareness, knowledge and confidence in dementia care.
“This augers well for the potential national rollout of this online resource, for example, through inclusion in the suite of materials hosted by Dementia Training Australia.”
The program – offered online – aims to deliver tailored, quality training and education in dementia care to health professionals.
Minister Wyatt said the Turnbull Government was committed to giving GPs and other medical practitioners the best possible skills to identify dementia in their patients and to help their primary care givers.
“Local doctors will be better able to assess carers’ knowledge and their roles in providing support for people living with dementia,” said Minister Wyatt.
“Practice nurses will also be better equipped to recognise dementia symptoms and assist patients and families, particularly in rural and remote communities.
“These insights should help reduce stigma and empower families and carers.”
An estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. The condition is the nation’s second most common cause of death, with predictions more than one million Australians will suffer from dementia by 2050.
The Turnbull Government’s Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund supported development of the Tasmanian program through a $670,000 grant, complementing the annual $9.3 million funding for the national Dementia Training Program.
“We are committed to improving the lives of people living with dementia through partnerships, and through major investment in research, innovation and dementia training,” said Minister Wyatt.
“A massive part of this is our current $200 million, five-year Boosting Dementia Research initiative, aiming to fast-track development of preventions, treatments and cures.”
For more dementia information, go to www.dementia.org.au or contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. —
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