Five-day post-diagnosis dementia retreat to educate on living well
Hello Care spoke with Donna Ward, Program Director for Group Home Australia’s five-day post-diagnostic retreat. Donna knows the struggles first-hand of handling a diagnosis without having sufficient knowledge on how to support the person. “When my mum was first diagnosed 18 years ago, I was there and we had nothing,” she explained. “For people with dementia and their support person these tools and strategies will allow for hope, and hope changes everything.” she explained.
“People with dementia and their support person is a relationship that depends on each other and with these tools and strategies, there’s hope and hope changes everything.”
“For a long time, I was fearful of that being my journey but now I’m not so afraid.”
The live-in retreats will be rolled out to specific metropolitan and regional Group Homes Australia facilities in New South Wales and will host five ‘couples’ of someone with a dementia diagnosis and a support person they wish to come with them at a time.
An innovative program predicted to have positive results, the grant award comes as dementia support is pit under the spotlight as 70% of people with dementia live in the community and want to age at home.
Research has also shown that giving PLWD and their partners the tools to live at home with a new diagnosis can reduce care fatigue and delay or prevent admission into long-term care.
Group Homes Australia Founder and Executive Director, Tamar Krebs, said the way we currently support PLWD isn’t good enough.
In her 26 years of experience, she has found that post-diagnosis, people only receive a six-month follow-up appointment – no treatment, no care, no support, or no medication. Due to the lack of knowledge about dementia and how to live well at home with a diagnosis, many PLWD finds their social networks dissolve as they feel helpless.
“There’s nothing that gives the person hope that this is going to get better,” Ms Krebs explained.
“I have heard many people share that they just wanted to go home and die because they might live with dementia for 10, 15, 20 years and to not have hope for that amount of time is not good enough.”
“I feel like, as a provider, we have to do better.”
Touching on the tragic incident surrounding the health of aged care resident, Clare Nowland, Ms Krebs is pleased a stronger emphasis is being put on care staff receiving appropriate training on working with PLWD.
“You have to have a minimum standard of training to get into a car, to manage alcohol or make coffee but we don’t have a minimum standard of training for people caring for people with dementia,” she said.
These Australian Government funded retreats will be held over the coming months and will expand to host 33 programs over three years.