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Development of a constipation prevention care bundle for people living with dementia in residential aged care

There is a strong link between dementia and constipation, which, when left unmanaged, can lead to more serious conditions. The aim of this study was to develop a care bundle for the prevention of constipation in people living with dementia in RAC. 

A scoping review and context-mapping process were conducted to identify strategies to prevent constipation in people with dementia. Subsequently, a Modified-Delphi process and co-production workshops with key stakeholders, including consumers, were held to reach consensus on strategies to include in the care-bundle. One RAC was recruited as the trial site, with staff members involved in refining the care-bundle to best suit their context.  

The review and context-mapping identified 24 strategies to support prevention of constipation in people living with dementia. Further refinement through the co-production process with key stakeholders resulted in a final care bundle of 12 strategies encompassing a) dietitian consultation, including screening for constipation risk and dietary recommendations to encourage an adequate fibre and fluid intake, b) environmental changes (eg, colour-contrasted toilet seats, signage, mid-meal beverage cart), and c) education and training. 

This inclusive novel approach to preventing constipation in people living with dementia is ready for pilot-testing. 

Dr Linda Schnitker
Bolton Clarke- QUT, Australia
Mili Dhir
Cabrini Residential Aged Care, Australia
Medicated and motivated – NOT! Questioning the abusive practice of chemical restraint

Chemical restraint is one of the vilest indicators of ageist discrimination within our current civilisation. It has been indicated that management of changed behaviour displayed by people with dementia relies essentially on medications that sedate. This is despite significant data establishing these types of pharmaceuticals have inadequate usefulness and are often the source of substantial negative and mortiferous side effects.  

The common thread identified has become one of acceptance. When medicating people for ‘being different’ becomes admissible and tolerable, and remains unquestioned, then we must challenge this process for the deplorable, degrading, inhumane process that it truly has become. 

There is an urgent need to establish methods of preventing this ‘dirty little secret’ from ravaging and disempowering those who are exceedingly susceptible to having their constitutional freedom abused. 

This may be achieved by: 

  • Awareness, information systems, services, and compulsory training for all healthcare professionals and the community
  • Recommendations, rigorous frameworks, processes of review and preventative models of care.
  • Dementia-enabling environments and person-centred partnerships.

As a collective, humankind must be motivated to transform their penchant for fearmongering, partisan intolerance and bigotry towards people with dementia, upholding a voice of activism that defends individual autonomy and supports well-being. 


Leah Bisiani
Twilight Aged Care, Australia
Residential aged care facility residents the winners with behaviour huddles

To examine how staff access to dementia-specific management structure can assist with resident responsive behaviours associated with dementia in the RACF, a multi-disciplinary Dementia Support Working Party was formulated by expression of interest.

Post-it note comments were collated on a whiteboard, reporting issues encountered. Four common themes were identified: Time; Resources; Education and Communication. A Behaviour Huddle Form (BHF) was inaugurated based on RACF’s Post Falls Huddle of protocols for mutual improved outcomes. Utilised with the Behaviour Support Plan (BSP), the BHF was trialed for two months in the RACF with 40 permanent residents.

The study found BHFs are an effective addition to BSPs to increase accountability with staff to adopt a person-centred approach through reflection on their practice, reduce the prevalence of responsive behaviours through early detection of triggers, and increase non-pharmacological strategies and interventions available to support well-being of residents. The trial indicated the need for ongoing training to promote staff knowledge.

In conclusion, the BHF reduced the time staff were required to manage changed behaviours, provided a resource of the Traffic Light Approach (TLA) for improved quality of life for the cognitive impaired person, and contributed to effective communication with care planning and shift handover. 


Lisa Leach
Bindaree Retirement Centre, Mansfield District Health, Australia
Designing HUGs: therapeutic comforters to reduce anxiety and bring joy

Anxiety, agitation, and distress are frequently experienced by people living with the advanced stages of dementia. Finding ways to alleviate anxiety and provide soothing care was one of the imperatives of LAUGH research at Cardiff Metropolitan University (2015-2021), which led to the development of HUG. The product was designed with and for people living with advanced dementia and is now commercially available thanks to a business partnership with Alzheimer’s Society UK.  

HUG is a therapeutic comforter that provides the reciprocal experience of giving and receiving a hug. It’s soft body, soothing heartbeat, weighted limbs, and programmable music player have been shown to relieve distress and provide a practical alternative to anti-anxiety medication. In addition, HUG has been found to provide a sense of companionship, increasing communication and reducing loneliness for people living with dementia and other diverse health challenges. 

HUG has been evaluated in the UK with patients in NHS hospitals and residential dementia care, supported by research funded by UK and Welsh governments. The initial LAUGH academic research team included Dr Gail Kenning (University of Technology Sydney). This is an opportunity for the UK team to return to Australia to present research behind the commercialised award-winning product. 

Dr Jac Fennell
University of the West of England, United Kingdom
Prof Cathy Treadaway
Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
Building relationships through creative engagement: The mechanisms of person-centred social interactions for people with dementia in residential aged care settings

Verbal and non-verbal human interactions and relationships can be disrupted for a person living with dementia (PLWD). Word finding, memory and comprehension difficulties are commonly associated with dementia, which can lead to social isolation.

While a great deal of research has explored the importance of social engagement in other therapeutic contexts, there is little known about how the quality of interactions can be measured and enhanced for PLWD in residential care settings.

The present study addresses this gap through investigating the quality of interactions between creative therapeutic engagement specialists and PLWD in Australian care settings. Interviews with engagement specialists are analysed to assist with the identification of person-centred engagement strategies that are successfully employed in these settings. Further, video and audio recordings of one-on-one therapeutic engagement sessions are discretely obtained and micro-analysed using behavioural observations and automatic linguistic and facial recognition software tools. These tools measure the quality of the interactions through the examination of facial expressions, autobiographical memory content, acoustic and linguistic features of the interactions.

Our findings and clinical implications will be discussed in relation to the assessment and training of elements of person-centred interactions to promote relationship building and connection in residential care settings.  

Dr Ruth Brookman
MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Australia
Key considerations in adopting social robots for dementia clients – perspective of an occupational therapist in Singapore

Social robots, also known as Socially-Assistive Robots (SAR) are usually outfitted with cameras, sensors and microphones. Each robot is equipped with the capacity to offer companionship, provide exercise routines or enable cognitive training for users. As a Consultant Occupational Therapists & Dementia Care Specialists based in Singapore, we were appointed by institutions to implement Social Robots programme for our nursing home partners.  

In alignment with a person-centred care approach, placing the user as the central focus for all considerations and decision making is essential – with key considerations on one’s interest, values, life stories, sensory motor abilities, and their level of acceptance towards technology. 

Often, robot solutions are distinctive in nature. Some robots are designed to offer comfort while others equipped to run exercise routines and cognitive training. In identifying which prototypes are appropriate for respective patients, evaluations are recommended prior to selection of participants for technology group. 

Social robots are usually costly and hence it is essential to determine its suitability, and the therapeutic benefits it offers to our clients.  

Technical and practical aspects like internet connectivity, handling of personal data and ethics are key considerations. 

Prudence Chan
Pacific Rehab Group, Singapore
Scaffolding memory and forging relationships in aged care contexts: a dyadic intervention
Our panel will consider the significant challenges facing aged care across the globe in ensuring that we can meet the needs of our citizens with dementia both at home and in residential care. The post-Covid world is only one element of the significant challenges to find a skilled and available workforce as well as meeting their expectations on flexibility and wages. Our panel will debate these issues and consider not only the challenges, but the opportunities for organisations and countries to change our approach.
A/Prof Celia Harris
Western Sydney University, Australia
Karn Nelson
The Whiddon Group, Australia
Implementing pet robots in aged care

Pet robots are robots that look and behave like animals, and are designed to provide pet-assisted therapy to benefit the psychosocial health of people living with dementia. The study aims to identify and achieve expert consensus on how pet robots can be integrated into routine dementia care in long-term residential care settings.  

A two-round modified Delphi study was conducted, involving an international panel of 56 experts from 14 countries. Experts rated a list of potentially relevant strategies on a 9-point scale according to their relative importance. Consensus was defined as having an agreement of 75% or higher. Statements not reaching agreement on the first Delphi round were brought forward to Round 2.  

From an initial list of 48 strategies, 13 strategies reached consensus. Eleven were established as critical, and examples include: assessing readiness and identifying barriers and facilitators and purposely re-examining the implementation. Other strategies received differing extents of agreement. Reasons for variations included contextual differences, such as resource availability, organisational structures, and staff turnover. 

This study identified strategies that are critical and important for supporting aged care providers to implement pet robots to support dementia care. Further development and testing of these strategies are needed. 

Dr Wei Qi Koh
University of Queensland, Australia
The Crowley Difference: effectively applying the National Aged Care Design Guidelines

In September 2023, the Australian Government released the draft National Aged Care Design Principles and Guidelines to address ‘design for all people living and working in residential aged care’. Four Principles are supported by thirty-one guidelines, providing solutions to design challenges faced by aged care providers. Together, they are intended to encourage a ‘stronger alignment between models of care and design’.

Established in 1979, Crowley Care are an integrated aged care and seniors living site in Ballina NSW, looking after 330 residents in various forms of accommodation. Utilising Crowley as a case study, our presentation will explore the interrelationship between operational requirements and architectural intervention, through the lens of these principles and guidelines.

We will demonstrate what opportunities and challenges have occurred in addressing them in a recent refurbishment of a 10-bed dementia-specific wing (Lighthouse). We will then explore how the principles can be further translated across Crowley’s 25-acre site with a view on the future of integrated care. These topics include enhancing wayfinding, independence and wellbeing for residents and staff to create a vibrant care community.

Millie Lupton
Bickerton Masters, Australia
Kelli Potts
Crowley Care, Ballina, Australia
Revolutionising aged care design: NewDirection Care Bellmere's MICRO TOWN® Model

As the global ageing population increases, the need for innovative and compassionate solutions to dementia and aged care becomes paramount. Most older Australians have the desire to age in their homes, yet challenges arise when households are not designed for independence, leading many to prematurely enter residential aged care. NewDirection Care presents a groundbreaking response with its MICRO TOWN® inclusive community, reshaping the landscape of dementia and aged care.  
This Australian and world-first MICRO TOWN® mirrors a typical suburban community, with 17-houses on six streets within a secure two-hectare site. The absence of locked doors and secure dementia units allows residents to freely roam, fostering autonomy and social connection. The community's town centre, a vibrant hub with a corner store, café, beauty salon, cinema, and wellness spa, ensures a familiar and engaging environment for all residents. 
This non-clinical setting prioritises residents' freedom, with no regimented schedules. Instead, residents are empowered to shape their day-to-day lives, resulting in remarkable benefits including increased contentment, reduced medication dependency, improved well-being, and heightened community engagement.  
NewDirection Care Bellmere's MICRO TOWN® model represents a paradigm shift, offering a transformative approach to dementia and aged care that prioritises independence, familiarity, and a fulfilling quality of life. 


Natasha Chadwick
NewDirection Care, Australia
Living, learning and working together: designing for dementia in the comprehensive care retirement village

The typology of the traditional New Zealand comprehensive care retirement village is about to undergo changes brought on by an aging population with increased numbers of people living with dementia, changing attitudes about secure dementia care, and an increase in care providers who provide in-house training. Soon, retirement villages will need to meet not only the needs of people living with dementia but also those who care for them and those who are learning about dementia, all within the same setting.  

This presentation proposes that design principles for the living, working and learning settings could be aligned with a salutogenic approach, supporting the well-being of all the stakeholders. This alignment would facilitate the development of a new design resource for comprehensive care retirement villages. The creation of an environmental design guide that developed principles into approaches and responses would aid architects in the provision of spaces that meet multiple needs synergistically.  

Sara McCunnie
Ryman Healthcare, New Zealand
Innovating residential person-centred care through dementia-friendly art

Successful aged care facilities have this in common: a home is a feeling, not a place. Art can therefore be the expression that evokes feelings of well-being and healthy behaviours. 

In this presentation, we address the process of creating dementia-friendly environments through science-driven designed art. The Aged Care Design Principles require clinical disguises, less clutter, signage and meaningful wall art as landmarks that improve wayfinding to reduce fatigue and falls. Yet, bleak images, glass glare, reflections, and bare walls that cause behaviours are abundant in many facilities.

Studies prove best-practice wayfinding saliency from large, understandable, well-placed, bright, naturally coloured, textured images, reinforcing Baby Boomer preferences for colourful decors in contrast to older craft styles. Neuroaesthetically designed innovations for saliency are 'Windows Out,' flat, matte, textured artworks that de-clutter environments, ‘Door Disguises’ that deflect exit-seeking and soothe through beauty; 'Room Door Decal' collections to cohesively style and individualise door recognition, saving carer time alleviating wrong room entries; eye-catching round 'Artful Signage' replacing institutional signs with visually intuitive art; and in-room 'Memory Boards' that provide person-centred care through patient info and conversation cues.

In conclusion, innovative and purposeful science-based application of art in aged care facilities enables significant improvements in residential person-centred care.  

Sharron Tancred
Tailored Artworks Pty Ltd, Australia
Provision of specialist palliative care for people with dementia: a retrospective cohort study

Dementia is a progressive illness that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Given the complex symptom burden experienced by those with dementia, palliative care in this population is important.  

The aim of this study was to describe the symptoms experienced by those with dementia living in residential aged care compared to those without a dementia diagnosis.  

A retrospective analysis of aged care residents admitted to a specialist community palliative care service spanning five years was conducted. Data was collected to determine referral and key care activities and outcomes in terms of symptoms for residents with dementia.  

1,021 aged care residents were admitted over five years; 38.3% had a dementia diagnosis. The mean age was 83.9 years (SD=9.1). Pearson’s chi-square test revealed a significant association between dementia and moderate to severe nausea, anxiety, complexity of care, depression, drowsiness, dyspnea, tiredness, and wellbeing. Adjusting for age, gender, malignancy, cultural diversity, and dementia diagnosis, inverse correlation was seen for moderate to severe anxiety, complexity of care, depression, drowsiness, pain, dyspnea, tiredness, and wellbeing.    

This study demonstrates potential under reporting of symptom severity for residents with dementia. Assessment of these symptoms may be impacted by a lack of dementia-specific tools. 

Kellie Bradley
Palliative Care South East, Australia
Establishing the Nightingale Program in NSW: expanding and enhancing a specialist dementia palliative care program in the community

The Dementia Australia Nightingale Program (NP) is a specialist dementia palliative care program providing home based clinical support and education to people living with advanced dementia, their families and carers.   

Expanding on foundational work in South Australia, the program provides services across metropolitan and regional communities including First Nations peoples, socially isolated and CALD communities. NP is a responsive program led by specialist nurses, addressing gaps in care, providing support and promoting choice for end-of-life care.  

The NP provides a holistic partnership that empowers families to develop integrative relationships with treating clinicians and service providers to support and assist with clinical care, advance care planning and carer education. 

We have used the University of Wollongong’s Palliative Aged Care Outcomes Program (PACOP) to provide a framework with validated assessments to enhance the capacity of carers in recognising change creating a common language amongst services to identify and respond to palliative care needs for people with dementia. These assessments provide a basis for carer and service evaluation. 

This presentation discusses challenges, successes and outcomes of the NP using professional reflections, carer insights and case studies.  

Jillian Kidd
Dementia Australia, Australia
Allison Cummins
Dementia Australia, Australia
Bronwyn Arthur
University of Wollongong, Australia
The Peace of Mind Project – highlighting dementia as a life-limiting illness in South Western Sydney

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and was the leading cause of death in females in 2021, however it is not well known that it is a life-limiting illness.

The Greater Choices for At Home Palliative Care Program funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care aims to improve palliative care coordination across Australia. As a pilot site of the project South Western Sydney Primary Health Network conducted a needs assessment in 2018 and from the findings chose to focus their project on people living with dementia within the region. The number of people living with dementia in South Western Sydney is expected to increase by 84.2% by 2031. A focus on planning and dementia specific programs for the region is necessary to combat the future prevalence of dementia. SWSPHN has undertaken numerous programs to support people living with dementia and their journey.

This presentation will highlight the programs within this project including:    

  • Easy Read Dementia Document  
  • Dementia and Palliative Care Directory   
  • Subsidization of PainChek app 
  • Dementia CPD for general practice   
  • Community Education Series with WSU
  • Advance Care Planning for people living with Dementia.  
  • Updating Health Pathways



Kate Noble
South Western Sydney Primary Health Network, Australia
Dying at home with dementia - one family's personal narrative of a lived palliation in dementia experience

Palliative Care Australia reports 84% of people would prefer to die at home. However, at-home death rates for Queenslanders sit currently at 16%. My dad was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, though his official diagnosis was a slow burn over several years. He died in November 2023, at home, a good death. It is Dad’s final few weeks of life that I would like to present as a personal narrative of a lived palliation in dementia experience. 

Six days before he died, our family took the unconventional step of moving Dad from residential care to home. Our intention was to provide him a beautiful death, surrounded by family in a familiar environment. This unexpected change to Dad’s end-of-life pathway grew out of anxiety that he may end up dying without family present or, even worse, alone in the middle of the night. The transition was smooth. We had a good relationship with the nursing home, we engaged an in-home palliative nursing service, we secured the equipment and supplies needed. 

We believe more families may consider this pathway if they knew it was an option. By sharing our family story, we hope to inspire and educate others in similar circumstances. 




Lisa Twigg
Daughter, Family Carer, Australia
Needs, service access and current practice to support LGBT+ older people living with dementia: a scoping review

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other gender and/or sexuality diverse (LGBT+)* older people have higher rates of cognitive impairment – an indicator to dementia. This is due to overlapping forms of social disadvantage and other risk factors.

Unfortunately, the needs and experiences of LGBT+ people living with dementia and their carers are not well understood. Due to histories of discrimination, populations such as LGBT+ people living with dementia are less likely to access health and care services, so there is a need for culturally sensitive services, approaches and resources that will prevent marginalisation and reduce inequities in health outcomes.

This scoping review aimed to learn more about best-practice service provision for LGBT+ people living with dementia. Thirty peer-reviewed academic papers and 15 publications from community-based organisations in Australia and internationally were identified as relevant. There was very little empirical evidence about best practice service provision for this group.

The key findings were that LGBT+ people fear services, feeling stress and anxiety about disclosing their gender and/or sexuality. Actions to support improved care practice were organised under competency areas and guiding principles. These frameworks are useful to help identify what culturally competent care looks like for LGBT+ people living with dementia.  


Dr Louisa Smith
Deakin University, Australia
Care experiences of older immigrants living with dementia: A qualitative secondary analysis of Australian Royal Commission data

This qualitative study aimed to describe the experiences and concerns of older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds using publicly available evidence from the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.  

Over 7000 publicly available documents became the data corpus for this study. Using the keywords to search the data corpus we extracted a topic-specific data set focused on dementia care and cultural diversity. Thematic analysis was used to identify and describe the present practices and challenges of older people living with dementia from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

Our findings showed the need for cultural connection for older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds increases as dementia progresses. Access to culture-specific food and music facilitated a connection with their culture of origin. The inability to communicate due to a lack of language support impacted their health and well-being, and care provision.

Caring for older immigrants living with dementia is complex. More work is needed to provide the necessary cultural experiences and language supports to ensure comfort and equity in the provision of dementia care for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.  

Pelden Chejor
Edith Cowan University, Australia
Investigating the impact of multilingual experience on brain function in ageing populations

Mounting evidence suggests that multilingual people experience and express cognitive decline processes differently than monolinguals. Dementia symptom onset in multilinguals occurs approximately five years later than in monolingual older adults, with this difference attributed to higher cognitive reserve. Current evidence indicates that multilingualism also confers advantages on executive functions such as working memory, attention and inhibition, but little is known about potential effects on a broader range of executive functions, as well as possible modality-specific or context-dependent effects.

Across a range of cognitive tasks, we examined associations between performance (accuracy and reaction time) and lifetime language experience, with the goal of testing for nuanced experience-dependent advantages on executive functioning. These data have implications for tailored healthy ageing interventions for culturally and linguistically diverse older adults, as well as the development of strengths-based approaches to cognitive ageing for diverse older people. Findings also have the potential to inform strategies for the maintenance and use of heritage languages across the lifespan, with applications for cognitively impaired and dementia patient populations. 

Olivia Maurice
MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University, Australia
Unveiling the dementia landscape: insights from identifying Amis-speaking patients in Taiwan

In this abstract, we propose to share our journey in identifying dementia patients within the Amis-speaking community, a significant demographic among the Austronesian tribes in Taiwan. Our study aims to shed light on the challenges and opportunities encountered in seeking out and supporting minority racial groups affected by dementia. 

Amidst the diverse linguistic and cultural landscape of Taiwan, the Amis-speaking population presents a unique context for dementia research. Through our rigorous community engagement efforts and collaboration with local healthcare providers, we have unearthed insights into the prevalence, diagnosis, and management of dementia within this marginalised community. 

Our findings underscore the critical role of culturally sensitive approaches and linguistic accessibility in identifying and supporting dementia patients. We reflect on the significance of community partnerships, language resources, and targeted outreach initiatives in overcoming barriers to care and empowering minority groups to access social supports and healthcare information. 

As we share our experiences and recommendations, we aim to inspire and inform researchers embarking on similar endeavours with other minority racial groups. By embracing cultural diversity and inclusivity in dementia research and care, we can forge pathways towards equity and resilience in combating this global health challenge. 

Shih-Wei Chen
National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
Virtual reality therapy for people living with dementia in acute hospital settings: a feasibility study

Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) can be challenging to manage and causes distress for patients, carers, and healthcare staff, and prolonged hospitalisation of the person with dementia. International studies suggest that virtual reality (VR) therapy is a promising non-pharmacological intervention for reducing BPSD and alleviating distress during hospital admissions. NeuronsVR is an innovative Virtual Reality therapy which incorporates visual and auditory experiences specifically designed for people with dementia.  It has not been trialled in Australia. 

Our objective is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of inpatient NeuronsVR therapy for people with BPSD. We are using prospective evaluation of the acceptability and feasibility of NeuronsVR therapy for 30 patients living with dementia at one metropolitan hospital. Participants will receive a personalised 10-minute VR therapy session and their response will be assessed using the Engagement of a Person with Dementia Scale (EPWDS).  

The results of this study will be available by September 2024. Data will include patient demographics and EPWDS scale scores. 

This will be the first ever formal study of NeuronsVR therapy. It is anticipated that this therapy will be feasible for use in hospital settings and will be acceptable to people experiencing BPSD. Findings may guide larger randomised controlled trials. 


Olivia Paulik
St George Hospital, Australia
Co-designed home-based personalised reablement strategy program delivered via Digital Voice Assistants in older adults aged ≥60 years with mild cognitive impairment and/or dementia

Digital voice assistants (DVAs) offer promising opportunities to deliver personalised support strategies addressing unmet needs of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. However, ensuring DVA interventions are user-centred and tailored to this population's unique needs is crucial for successful adoption. 

In this stakeholder-engaged study, adults aged ≥60 years with MCI/dementia (n=5) and their caregivers (n=8), along with interdisciplinary healthcare professionals (n=8), participated in four online co-design workshops from July-December 2023. Applying the MoSCoW prioritization method, needs and intervention ideas were elicited.  

Stakeholders recommended key DVA components: 1) Monitoring mood and providing emotional support; 2) Facilitating social connections and reminiscence activities; 3) Broadcasting step-by-step recipes and medication reminders; 4) Planning and reminding for daily tasks; 5) Prompting household activities; 6) Delivering cognitively stimulating content. This customisable, voice-activated system promotes self-management through automated support for daily living tailored to individuals' needs and routines. Key strengths include extensive engagement of target users and interdisciplinary stakeholders, aligning with patient-centred care principles. 

This stakeholder-engaged research yielded a comprehensive set of evidence-based DVA requirements for improving dementia/MCI management. Co-design insights will directly inform user-centred 12-week trial.   

Dr Paul Jansons
Deakin University, Australia
Co-designing for friendlier technology: a customisable home support and videocall system for people living with dementia

Assistive technologies offer huge potential to help people living with dementia to complete activities of daily living, socialise, and participate in meaningful activities. Despite this, the uptake of assistive technologies for people living with dementia is low. Many existing technologies are not designed to be used independently by people living with dementia, and cannot be tailored to meet their individual and changing needs.

We have established an interdisciplinary team of psychologists, cognitive scientists, software and biomedical engineers, and people with lived experience to co-design a customisable, intuitive device that people living with dementia can use independently to videocall with loved ones and complete meaningful activities. Together with a core advisory group, we developed an initial prototype. This prototype has since undergone multiple design iterations following a series of co-design sessions attended by people with lived experience. These sessions were held in a Living Lab setting, and a participant-led documentation processes ensured participant control over how feedback was collated and prioritised. People living with dementia have since tried the device in their own homes.

We will share key learnings from our co-design methods and recommendations for customisable, intuitive design. We welcome the opportunity for demonstration or display. 


Dr Ruby Lipson-Smith
Western Sydney University, Australia
Bobby Redman
Dementia Australia, Australia
A virtual cup of tea with a robot and other learning and caring experiences

Technology has a place in health care. Like it or not, AI and robotics are already a part of some care environments overseas. 

There is a place for assistive technology, so that we humans can focus on the important thing – which is caring for each other. But we need training to do that well. 

At DTA we are not just focussed on delivering training; we are looking at the creation of a learning culture in our sector and finding ways to support continuous improvement in the delivery of quality training to deliver quality care. 

That includes using innovative technology including virtual reality programs and AI-enabled animations to provide visual and experiential learning in multiple languages. It also includes setting out the standards that will assist both organisations and individuals to identify and set skills and knowledge levels to be attained and plan their learning pathways.

My presentation outlines the ways in which DTA are using technology to improve learning, and planning for skills development to support those supporting people living with dementia across a range of care settings. 


Dr Isabelle Meyer
Dementia Training Australia, Australia
Dementia in the African cultural context

More than half of all people with dementia are from low- and middle-income countries. A recent report released by Alzheimer's Disease International estimated the age-adjusted dementia prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa to be 7.2% among those aged 60 years and over. 
Dementia prevalence varies from 2.3 to 20.0% and incidence rates are 13.3 per 1000 person years with increasing mortality in parts of rapidly transforming Africa. Differences in nutrition, cardiovascular factors, co-morbidities, infections, mortality and detection likely contribute to lower incidence. 

Dementia does not discriminate - it affects people of all cultures and backgrounds. People's backgrounds and beliefs inform their sense of self, how they understand, feel about, and respond to other people and their environment - including diagnoses, health and care organisations and their staff. 

Kyobe Allan
My Grand Paa-maa Uganda (Age Unheard), Uganda
So you are going to care for a spouse with dementia

A dementia diagnosis is an alarming experience for a couple, often given at an age when they are planning travel and other things people expect to do in retirement.  

While the emphasis is on the people diagnosed, their partners who will become their carers are generally side-lined with little information, no manual to guide them, and no easy way to find information about the complex journey they have been set on. I have found no studies that give carers any practical help to understand what they may expect in their role as the disease progresses. 

This paper is significant because it provides important information for carers. Doctors and  health-care workers involved in aged care will also benefit by having a greater understanding of what happens after patients are given a dementia diagnosis.  

The aim of this paper is to set out for carers what than can expect so they can keep their loved-ones from institutional care for as long as possible, and navigate the heartbreaking situation when they can no longer cope. 

The key message is to know what the future holds and plan for it.       


James Boag
Retired, Australia
Navigating the unique challenges of adult children caring for parents with dementia: our support group story

This presentation explores the distinctive challenges faced by children caring for parents with dementia, offering insights from our long-standing support group's journey through the stages of providing care needs, peer support and advocacy. We look at becoming carers whilst juggling careers and families, the transformation of the parental relationship, coping with a lack of sibling support, the grief of losing a parent, and the critical need for self-care. Brief case studies from the group will look at the emotional, practical, financial, and legal aspects unique to adult children caregivers. 

We will share success stories such as the role of 24/7 care through technology platforms, the diverse yet structured support group dynamics, and the establishment of a volunteer planning group as demand for the group grew. 

We will address persistent issues, including frustrations with inadequate support services for adult children, a lack of understanding of our needs by peers, family and workplaces, discriminatory attitudes towards older people with dementia by some healthcare professionals, the ongoing need for dementia specific training in care homes and hospitals, the need to sustainably resource dementia caregiving over time, and the need for funding volunteer-led specific support groups for children whose parents have dementia. 

Sharon Leadbetter
Workplace Mental Health Specialist, New Zealand
Mike Godfrey
Business and Training Consultant, Australia
A different kind of journey

I will share the story of my dad Chris, and of my wish for greater caring and support in dementia journeys. From diagnosis, there should be someone providing guidance to vital social and support networks within a local community, and introductions to people and programs that can provide knowledge and education on dementia, health, every day, lifestyle, financial, and legal needs - for now, and for the evolving journey ahead.  

Dad’s story includes the impact of untrained care staff, unsuitable living environments and unmet needs, all of which led to aggression, use of chemical restraint, hospitalisations and - with a lack of confidence and understanding in the sector - an inability to find a new home for Dad. It has now been four months that he has been living in hospital.  

I will share the path we have followed and why things must change, including the need to ensure that if ‘dementia care’ is offered that staff are provided with skills and knowledge to ensure that their life and the life of those in their care is one that is fulfilling and safe, and that loved ones are recognised and included as part of the care team.


Monique Pockran
Dahlia Dementia Guidance & Support, Australia
The past that guides the future

Experience can be a harsh teacher. We learn about medical diagnoses in school but until it becomes a lived experience, one does not own the magnitude of dementia. As the daughter of a parent with dementia, this nurse practitioner gained a new worldview through the lens of perplexing decisions, unimaginable situations, and the loss of a loved one that still lives. Allow me to share with you how the past guides the future.

This presentation will chronicle the lived experience from 2007- 2014 through diagnosis to death of our father. What could be described as a textbook progression of the disease was never straightforward to our family and the same is true for most families. Proactively, this writer returned to school and added a PMHNP certification to her FNP credentials and uses this knowledge to develop guidance for dementia burdened families.  

Working in both inpatient and outpatient environments of a regional health centre, curriculum was developed and is offered to families. An interdisciplinary team works to plan for a safe disposition from the inpatient experience to outpatient care options. Brief patho, assessment and pharm will be reviewed and guidance questions will be shared.  

Dr Charlotte Stephens
Spartanburg Regional Hospital, South Carolina, United States
My experiences and insights as a person living with dementia

Bobby Redman and Bill Yeates will share their experiences and insights as people living with dementia.

Bobby Redman
Dementia Australia, Australia
Bill Yeates
Dementia Support Australia, Australia
Co-creating dementia awareness strategies: an international partnership approach

The involvement of people with lived experience of dementia  in the development of  a service or intervention is critical to ensure the relevance, acceptability and sustainability of interventions.  

This paper reports on a collaborative international partnership whose aim was to co-create dementia awareness-raising strategies in rural Kenya.  The partnership comprised people with lived experience of dementia in Kenya and  the UK.  

We used co-design workshops to design messages for t-shirts and other promotional materials as well as role plays and feedback workshops to enhance  knowledge exchange and learning. 

This paper does not report any findings, but it  outlines  how  participatory research traditions were used to develop awareness-raising strategies based on the experiences and input of people with lived experience of dementia in the two contexts. 

The paper informs readers about the co-creation of dementia friendly strategies in rural Kenya. Given the lack of awareness about dementia in this context and the stigma attached to having dementia or a family member with dementia, our approach and the experiences born out of this international partnership can be adapted by government agencies and organisations working to raise public awareness about dementia in Kenya and beyond. 

Dr Purity Mwendwa
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Ireland
Your guide to implementing person-driven care

There is a pressing need to support care providers in delivering quality dementia care in home care, where 70% of people living with dementia reside. Home care providers are facing a workforce shortage, complex system reform, and a significant variance in staff experience and understanding dementia care. 

Funding for training has helped, but many providers struggle to translate this into their day-to-day work due to a lack of practical guidance and innovative tools to help them. To address this issue, Caladenia Dementia Care, Villa Maria Catholic Homes and My Dementia Companion have partnered to initiate Australia's first home care dementia practice guide and support its translation into practice through My Dementia Companion PRO, an innovative tool to work at professionals' fingertips. 

The aim is to reduce staff relying on “Googling” for care delivery and prompt professionals on how to best guide their clients and carers through the journey, including practical, real-time guidance on care planning and support. 

We hope to share our progress on the guideline and encourage collaboration with the audience to improve dementia care in the home. 

We are funded by Equity Trustee and The Wicking Trust on behalf of Sir John Minogue Bequest and John Saville Eastwood. 

Elizabeth Baxter
VMCH, Australia
Nan Yu
My Dementia Companion, Australia
Sarah Yeates
Caladenia Dementia Care, Australia
If I keep calm and use a soft voice and smile and look at him... it works much better

A carer education program was developed as part of a pilot comprehensive resilience-building psychosocial intervention (CREST) for people with dementia living in the community. The aim of the program was to enable carers to respond more confidently to the needs of the person with dementia, to provide them with an opportunity to focus on their own health needs and to meet other carers and share experiences.

Using qualitative group and individual interviews we explored the carers’ experience of the program, which consisted of six, weekly two-hour sessions, with each week covering a different topic. Attendance rates were recorded and evaluation forms completed by carers at the end of each session. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.   

Nine carers completed the intervention with an average of 91% attendance (range: 67-100%). Evaluations were positive with all agreeing that the content of each session was helpful. A key motivation to participate was to gain more knowledge and understanding about dementia, and learning communication strategies were particularly useful. The support and learning that carers got from other group members, the social interaction and the emphasis on self-care were important elements of the program.  

Prof Dympna Casey
University of Galway, Ireland
GreenConnect Dementia Respite Project: codesign and implementation of innovative dementia respite based on green care principles

Green care encompasses a variety of programs utilising nature’s elements to enhance social, physical, and mental well-being. Drawing on green care principles, the GreenConnect Dementia Respite Project aims to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and reduce caregiver burden.

We describe the qualitative co-design process for the GreenConnect Dementia Respite Project through engagement with and active participation of diverse key stakeholders. Two focus groups with carers of persons with dementia and one consultation workshop with project consortium partners and steering committee members were conducted with 35 participants between November 2023 and January 2024. The socio-ecological framework underpinned findings from the thematic analysis of data. It emphasised the importance of an inclusive and culturally appropriate, person-centred model of care encompassing personnel and stakeholder training, screening and assessment/diagnosis, care planning, diverse green care-themed respite and activities, and robust evaluation.

The RE-AIM-guided model of care implementation will commence in March 2024. The GreenConnect Dementia Respite Project is an innovative, first-in-Australia respite based on green care principles. It is expected to provide accessible respite that meets the needs of individuals with dementia and their caregivers, fostering a positive dementia respite experience in non-institutional settings in rural and regional contexts.

Dr Shahinoor Akter
John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, La Trobe University, Australia
It’s not always Alzheimer’s Disease: Shining a light on Frontotemporal Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be the most common cause of dementia but a range of other conditions can cause a progressive loss of brain function. These rarer dementias can occur at a younger age. They can impact the brain in different ways, resulting in vastly different presentations.

A lack of awareness of the rarer forms of dementia can lead to significant delays in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. This can have potentially devastating consequences for the person with dementia and their families. A lack of understanding of the rarer dementias can lead to ineffective provision of support and education.

We want to shine a light on the most common of the rare dementias – Frontotemporal Dementia or FTD. This presentation will highlight the differences between FTD and AD both from the perspective of an experienced health professional working in the field, and importantly, from someone with the lived experience of caring for a loved one with FTD.

Dr Elissa Pasula
Neuropsychology Melbourne, Australia
Julane Bowen
Dementia and Mental Health Law Advocate, Australia
‘We don’t fit’: families navigating health and social care systems in the context of childhood dementia

Childhood dementia results from progressive brain damage and is caused by over 100 rare genetic disorders. Most children die before turning 18. Previous research established that families experiencing childhood dementia had challenges interacting with health and social care systems, expressing they 'do not fit’.  

Childhood Dementia Initiative (CDI) partnered with Nous Group to conduct targeted research in order to articulate and represent the ‘lived experience’ of families in their interactions with care and support services and identify the key challenges and opportunities for change.  

Six themes emerged:

1. Conditions that cause childhood dementia are rare, difficult to diagnose and diverse, which results in delayed diagnosis

2. Following diagnosis, there is no defined care pathway and parents find it difficult to navigate care and support to meet their child’s needs

3. Parents become project managers for their child’s care, experiencing a high administrative burden

4. Paediatric palliative care can fill a navigation and coordination gap but is not consistently accessed

5. NDIS packages are essential support for families, but are universally challenging to access and manage

6. Following the death of their child, families find comfort in informal and formal supports, yet these can be difficult to access and sustain. 


Gail Hilton
Childhood Dementia Initiative, Australia
A rapidly progressive dementia: Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease. The need for awareness of unique patient and palliative care needs and systems that can respond to them.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is an always fatal neurodegenerative prion disease. Though rare, Australia identifies between 50-80 cases each year. Clinically it is typified by rapidly progressive dementia, myoclonus and ataxia, progressing to akinetic mutism then death, sometimes within weeks. 

There are several unique considerations when caring for people with this type of dementia. 

Expeditious involvement of multidisciplinary allied health teams supports ongoing care in hospital, nursing homes or home. Rapid referral to palliative care services for symptoms management is important. Communication with community teams is vital. 

Clinical care includes assessing for reversible causes of deterioration and using appropriate non-pharmacological and pharmacological measures. Urine retention is common, often without the usual indicators found in other end-of-life trajectories. Expecting and preparing for sudden swallow and mobility loss is critical. 

Conversations surrounding storage of blood for genetic testing and the option of neuropathological diagnosis are important.  

Research identifies that caregivers often feel the rapidity of progressive symptoms leaves systems playing catch up, rather than being ready for a new clinical picture each day. Research also advocates for the involvement of a patient support group. Awareness of these points may help facilitate optimal care for this rare but important group of patients. 

Dr Debra Scott
CJD Support Group Network Australia, Australia
Dementia is everyone's business: Sydney Local Health District's Dementia Active Health Care Roadmap to 2030

Sydney Local Health District has developed a Dementia Active Health Care Framework and Roadmap 2024-2030 to make dementia 'everyone's business'. Given that numbers of people with dementia in Australia will double by 2058, the health district is aiming to deliver healthcare that is continuous and tailored to meet the individual needs of the person with dementia and their broader social and cultural supports, and to focus on maximising quality of life for all.

This presentation will outline the consultation process to develop the 10 broad actions within the roadmap, discuss achievements to date and what is planned to enable the district to deliver this vision. 

Helen Hislop
Sydney Local Health District, Australia
Young Onset Dementia - Is timely follow up enough?

In 2023, Conny Schneider and Janet Bennett found that caregivers of people living with YOD are satisfied with the level of support received, however carer burden remained significantly high. This highlighted the need for better understanding care needs during disease progression. They identified the need to better understand care givers needs in relation to the fact that the disease is progressive, ever changing and care givers require support with grief and loss, ongoing education, and support around self-care.  

This is a two-year pilot study using targeting interval phone interventions involving people with YOD and their caregivers. Interventions will focus on minimising carer burden. Primary outcomes will identify barriers, care needs and gaps experienced by people with YOD during the progression of YOD. Carer stress and quality of life will be measured at the beginning of the intervention and six monthly intervals. This study will gain insight into barriers and needs of carers of people with YOD during disease progression. Results will focus on evaluating carer stress and quality of life. 

Understanding barriers and challenges during progression of YOD, these findings will provide a better understanding if whether targeted interventions throughout the YOD journey will make a difference in reducing carer stress and early admission into residential care.  



Janet Bennett
Eastern Health, Australia
Conny Schneider
Eastern Health, Australia
Younger Onset Dementia Service

Brightwater created a model of care to inform services to support and enable people living with younger onset dementia (YOD). People diagnosed with YOD are required to navigate older adult dementia services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. They cannot enter residential aged care and there are limited YOD disability services and accommodation options. 

They reviewed evidence; consulted with people living with YOD and stakeholders; and conducted a Supported Independent Living (SIL) site evaluation with Dementia Training Australia. 

There is no clear pathway following a YOD diagnosis, with limited tailored and integrated services providing continuity of care. Significant gaps included: multidisciplinary reablement services; permanent care and respite; peer and social support. 

Therefore, Brightwater are developing a YOD Allied Health team and SIL Home that incorporates: multidisciplinary approach; reablement and best practice; relationship centred care; enabling environments; community participation; integrated service delivery; skilled staff and active care; and household model. The Model of Care encompasses: understanding; autonomy; purpose; trust; connectedness; and continuity.  

Brightwater seeks to support and enable people living with YOD from point of diagnosis to end of life and create a pathway of tailored, integrated services offering hope to people living with YOD.  


Naomi Moylan
Brightwater Care Group, Australia
Aged care and NDIS Reforms: good or bad for people with younger onset dementia? (PANEL)

Proposed eligibility changes in the new Aged Care Act and looming changes to the NDIS suggested by that scheme’s review may deliver new challenges for Australians living with young onset dementia already struggling to access appropriate supports. 

This panel will discuss how this reform landscape may impact people living with young onset dementia and their families and what can be done to maximise any benefits that accrue from these reforms. 


Dr Bronwyn Morkham
Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance, Australia
Naomi Moylan
Brightwater Care Group, Australia
Dr Margaret Pozzebon
Age Right Speech Pathology, Australia
Alan Blackwood
Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance, Australia
Dementia and the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation Lasting Memory Project

Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home (KBH) was a ‘home’ run by the NSW Government for over 50 years (1924 – 1970) to house Aboriginal boys forcibly removed from their families and deliberately re-programmed in order to assimilate them into white Australian society.  

This is a time of great importance for survivors of KBHAC, as the last remaining generations are ageing and approaching the end of life. An increasing number of survivors are living with dementia and require culturally safe, trauma-informed care and support. 

This presentation identifies the unique needs of our community and the gaps we’ve witnessed in current support and care for Stolen Generations survivors. We will share how we are building our capacity to care for and support our community, and the findings of a life story work pilot, along with recommendations on a way forward.  Our life story work ensures the stories and truth-telling becomes a lasting memory for Stolen Generations survivors and their families.  

Building cultural safe and Stolen Generations survivor trauma-aware service delivery is critical. It is needed to support one of the most important times in life and to ease pain and suffering that so many of the KBHAC has experienced.  

Harpreet Kalsi-Smith
Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, Australia
Dr Tiffany McComsey
Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, Australia
Adapting the Savvy Caregiver program with the Native Hawaiian Community

As cultural values can create unique caregiving experiences, we adapted the Savvy Caregiver Program (SCP), an evidence-based caregiving intervention, with a Native Hawaiian (NH) community in Hawaiʻi.

The adaptation process included a partnership between two teams: community action board (CAB) and mentorship team. The role of the mentorship team was to ensure core components of the program were maintained in the adapted version. The adapted version is titled ʻAuamo Kuleana O Maʻi Poina (carrying responsibilities associated with dementia; ʻAuamo Kuleana). During the adaptation process, the CAB suggested changes to the SCP to include Hawaiian values, language, proverbs, and examples. In addition, the CAB suggested creating two videos to replace the original videos that were outdated, lacking in diversity, and not culturally relevant.

The CAB members facilitated the development of new videos highlighting cultural foods and honoring cultural values. After filming the videos, a spontaneous celebration occurred with the kūpuna (elders) singing Hawaiian songs and dancing. We included this celebration and honor the persisting strengths of kūpuna and Native Hawaiian culture throughout the adapted version. We are currently pilot testing engagement with and effectiveness of ʻAuamo Kuleana with the Native Hawaiian community in Hawaiʻi.  

Dr Poki'i Balaz
University Of Oregon And Kula, United States
Kei tua i te pae o te mahara: Beyond the threshold of memory: a Kaitiaki approach to Alzheimer's/Dementia

In 2017 my mum was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia. Although it was hard to hear, the years leading up to that point had indicated that there were signs of her memory, thoughts and behaviour beginning to decline.  

I am the main caregiver of my mum. I have support from my children, and together we care for her as she journeys in the world of Alzheimer’s/dementia. I am Māori, and it is my Māori worldview that underpins my practice as a caregiver. My people are spiritual people. It is this knowing that is the foundation of my kaitiaki practice. A kaitiaki is a practitioner who subscribes to the notion that we are divinely created beings having a physical experience. My purpose as a kaitiaki is to nurture mum’s indescribable light.  

I draw inspiration from our Māori original stories and the healing practices of our people to care for my mum. KAWAKAWA is my healing practice framework that acknowledges both divine and physical care of mum with Alzheimer’s/dementia. I believe that my practice framework has contributed to mum continuing to live with us in our home and not in a residence for Alzheimer’s/dementia care facility.  


Hiraani Winikeri
Te Wananga O Aotearoa, Aotearoa New Zealand
Bridging Generations and Cultures: An Innovative Approach to Dementia Care in Taiwan's Indigenous Communities

In Taiwan, the rise of dementia and mild cognitive impairment, especially in rural areas where the incidence is double that of urban regions, has prompted concern. A survey in Pingtung County highlights the challenges faced by indigenous elders, including high rates of solitude, financial independence, and limited outdoor family interactions. To combat cognitive decline, Taiwan has launched "Dementia Classrooms," "Intergenerational Learning Programs," and "Care Centres" in remote areas, supported by the establishment of 433 cultural health stations by the Indigenous Peoples Council. These stations employ 1,176 caregivers to assist 13,853 elders through activities like physical exercises and crafts. 

A key project involves Atayal cultural language programs, introduced to elementary students who then engage in language-based activities with elders at these stations. This method educates youths on dementia care and promotes the preservation of indigenous culture and language. The interaction not only enriches the children's understanding and care for the elderly but also potentially slows the progression of dementia through active and linguistic involvement. This innovative care and educational approach offers a meaningful solution to the dementia challenge, highlighting the benefits of cultural and intergenerational engagement. 


Jung-Chun Hsu
National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan
Workforce retention: does training really help? Results of a mixed methods systematic review on professional dementia caregivers stress in residential aged care.

Residential aged care is “fertile ground for persistent stress” (Pearlin et al, 1990, p. 1), poor job satisfaction (Costello et al., 2019), burnout (Woodhead et al., 2016), and caregiver turnover (Rajamohan et al., 2019). Stress is associated with poor health and wellbeing outcomes for caregivers (Koolhaas et al., 2011; Le Fevre et al., 2003) and care recipients (Rajamohan et al., 2019), as well as significant economic costs when poorly managed by employers (Le Fevre et al., 2003).  

In practice, stress management interventions are based on anecdotal evidence, use training to ‘increase’ caregivers’ skills, or are imported from other industries. Given the workforce crisis (CEDA, 2021) and unique complexities of working in residential aged care, this convergent mixed method systematic review synthesises evidence from 52 primary studies using meta-analysis and framework synthesis to understand caregivers experience of stress, investigate how it can be mitigated by intervention and determine interventions effectiveness.  

A Conceptual Ecosystem of Professional Dementia Caregivers’ Experience of Occupational Stress in Residential Aged Care Settings was developed. Dependent factors activating and mitigating stress are identified. Organisational interventions that address multiple factors of the ecosystem simultaneously appear most effective. Practical implications for caregiver stress mitigation are discussed.   


Hayley Antipas
University Of Melbourne / Attuned Health Group, Australia
Residential aged care staff attitudes towards people with dementia: what is needed to improve person-centred care?

In addition to knowledge and skills, staff attitudes can shape how care is delivered. The 2023 Dementia Australia survey highlighted that 32% of Australians found people living with dementia (PLWD) “frightening”, a 9% increase from the previous decade. The aged care workforce has been through significant transformation over the last decade, with significant changes in the demographic of the aged care workforce. This study explores the attitudes among residential aged care (RAC) staff towards PLWD, factors contributing to those attitudes, and what tools and resources are needed to support staff to deliver high quality person-centred care.  

The study employs an explanatory mixed methods approach, a survey assessing RAC staff attitudes towards PLWD, and factors that contribute to these attitudes. Based on these findings, a qualitative phase including staff interviews will follow to determine education and training needs. The third phase will be the development of resources, tools, and/or trainings to support staff in working with PLWD.  

This paper will present findings from the first phase of the study, including staff attitudes and factors contributing to these attitudes. It will also discuss plans for developing tools and resources for staff, as well as implications for future research.   

Katrina Crump
Uniting NSW/ACT, Australia
Establishing the dementia respite education and mentoring project: DREAM

The Dementia Respite Education and Mentoring (DREAM) project has been developed by the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre in collaboration with Dementia Support Australia to specifically address dementia respite education needs of the aged care workforce. DREAM comprises educational modules, an online community of practice and face to face/online coaching and mentoring.   

Through focus groups with dementia experts, aged care workers and consumers, five key educational gaps in respite care were identified: unpacking dementia; knowing the person; navigating behaviours; relationships and communication; and planning for success. These themes will be integrated across the three DREAM elements. All elements will be supplemented by further resources for extended learning.   

Development of DREAM has been supported by community consultation and an expert advisory committee, comprising academics, consumers, aged care providers and dementia support coaches.   

DREAM will target aged care workers and organisations providing dementia respite in community and residential settings Australia wide, including those in rural settings. Evaluation of the project will include dementia knowledge, attitudes, and translation of learnings into practice.   

DREAM is free and online and aims to boost the capacity of the aged care workforce to deliver quality dementia respite care.  

Dr Kathleen Doherty
Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, Australia
The value of external service providers and facilitators in aged care: alleviating the pressure of a strained workforce to meet the social and emotional wellbeing of residents

Relationships and connection are fundamental for our social and emotional wellbeing. While many working within aged care look after residents like they would a loved one, staff shortages and pressures make it challenging to fully support these needs, particularly for individuals with dementia. 

At The Daisie Chain, our team of instructors and entertainers (who also have training in understanding dementia), have discovered the value external facilitators can provide in creating meaningful and positive relationships with residents to feel seen and heard. Not only through interactive music sessions, movement classes and concerts, but either side of these. 

This has looked like taking five minutes to connect with a resident who is confused, meeting them where they are and working through moments where they’re concerned about their young children disappearing or a loved one that hadn’t visited them. In these moments, we’re able to support staff, take the pressure off (with permission) and safely redirect residents to join in with the class or find something else that’s comforting for them. 

Having external facilitators and service providers, trained in understanding dementia, can offer unique ways to support the social and emotional needs of residents together with alleviating pressures on the existing workforce. 

Emma Payne
The Daisie Chain, Australia
How to change a meal experience for a person living with dementia

For an event that occurs three times a day and offers the most opportunity for socialisation, mealtimes can be one of the most complex tasks for care-workers. Picture an aged care resident having trouble eating. The fastest way to get them to eat would be to pick up their utensil and feed them, but is that the best outcome for the resident? In short, no.  

The HUH® technique is one of Teepa Snow’s greatest discoveries to support people living with brain change. The HUH® connection of palm-to-palm contact allows two brains to connect and communicate without words. Essentially their brains become ‘hard-wired’ allowing them to move as one.  

My proposed presentation would include:

  • A short video example of HUH techniques 
  • An on-stage demonstration of approaching someone the right and wrong way in a dining room
  • Audience participation for the entire room to practice the technique and experience it for themselves

As an accredited Teepa Snow Champion working for the only PAC accredited organisation in the southern hemisphere, I believe I am well placed to share Teepa’s methods and would love the opportunity to share it with an IDC 2024 audience.  

Nicoline Mundey
Rembrandt Living, Australia
The Food and Mood Project: innovative approach to individualised meals and meal experiences to increase wellbeing of those living with dementia in Group Home setting

Handwritten words on a serviette read: "Dear girls, I enjoyed this lunch very very much, thank you 1000 times. Dot".  

Dot is 97, and lives with nine residents in her home in Wahroonga, part of 22 homes within Group Homes Australia. Dot's home is part of the Food and Mood Project, an incredible pioneering program aiming to discover the ways food impacts our residents living with dementia and their mood. 

In our presentation, we will summarise objectives and learnings from our pilot that informed the roll-out of the Food and Mood Project and share the details of the outcomes of the roll-out. The roll-out innovatively invests in training our teams, engages our residents’ families and intimately elevates residents' health and wellbeing, one plate at a time.  

We’ll provide insight into incredible evidence based outcomes of the project detailing how individualised food, food related engagement and meal time experience has a significant impact on our residents in relation to unmet needs, behaviours, body composition, microbiome profile and much more. 

We can’t wait to share more stories like Dot's, about how the cultivation of individualised meals and meal time experience impacts the mood of people living with dementia.  


Megan van Genderen
Group Homes Australia, Australia
Kirsty Ghali
Group Homes Australia, Australia
Food - does it matter?

Food provides nutrition for physical healing, creates energy, impacts weight levels, blood sugar levels, iron levels, even contributes to diarrhoea or constipation. It's very important to have a ‘good’ diet.  

For the person living with dementia, food means so much more than fulfilling a nutritional need. It’s comfort,  joy, pleasure, can be boring, unnecessary, even, a form of torture. Many people living with dementia are prescribed multiple medications. So, food isn’t just about nutrition, or the emotion attached to eating, but also something that must be managed around medication.  

My own mum used to love food. These days, Mum hates salad. Forget pasta, chicken, or vegetables. Well-meaning people have coerced Mum into eating what is ‘good’ for her, often given meals with salads… remember Mum's feelings about salad… It would be fair to say that Mum has actually been traumatised by repeated attempts to ‘make her healthy’ through sensible meals.  

But it can be challenging to work out a healthy diet plan, three meals a day, when pretty much everything the person used to eat is now off the table (literally!).  It’s important to be inventive, change and adapt so that food and the person living with dementia can remain friends. 

Teresa Walker-Hassett
Registered Nurse, Family Carer, Australia
Dining dilemmas: the impact of cognitive impairment on eating behaviors and nutritional status in nursing home residents with dementia

This cross-sectional observational study investigates the nutritional status and mealtime behaviours of 51 nursing home residents with dementia, highlighting the influence of cognitive impairments and feeding difficulties on their nutritional health.

Employing the Mini Nutritional Assessment Short-Form (MNA-SF), Feeding Difficulty Index (FDI), and MoCA, the study provides insights into the complex interplay between cognitive function and nutritional outcomes. Results show that 47.1% of participants are at high risk of malnutrition, with 13.7% classified as malnourished. Cognitive assessments revealed a mean score of 14.39, indicating moderate impairment, which significantly correlates with nutritional status (p<0.01). Feeding challenges were prevalent, with discontinuation of eating for over a minute (74.5%) and mealtime distractions (62.8%) being the most common issues. The study further found that longer residency durations negatively correlate with nutritional status (p<0.05), emphasising the detrimental impact of institutional living on dietary health.

These findings advocate for the development of tailored nutritional interventions that consider cognitive capacities and optimise the mealtime environment to enhance the dietary intake and overall well-being of dementia residents in nursing homes. 

A/Prof Hui Chen (Rita) Chang
Western Sydney University, Australia

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