Dementia and mental health awareness and training

Australia has an ageing population; that means more people living longer with mental health problems, more people developing mental health problems in old age and more people with chronic diseases and mental health concerns. According to the Australia Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council, over 320,000 Australians are living with dementia, including one in four Australians over the age of 85. Deaths due to dementia have increased approximately 137% over the last ten years, with nearly 11,000 deaths recorded in 2013. In a 2010 study titled Older Australians Deserve a Better Deal in Mental Health published in 2010 by The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, it states that nearly 35% of people living in residential aged care facilities experience anxiety and depression. “Dementia, Alzheimer’s and mental health disorders are some of the biggest issues in aged care right now,” said Roger Davy, Managing Director at Coverite. “People are entering nursing homes in a more dependent state, which presents challenges for all health workers, including trades people.” The Older Australians Deserve a Better Deal in Mental Health report predicts that by 2050, 1.3 million Australians will have dementia. The increasing prevalence is placing a growing emotional and financial burden on patients, their families and friends. It also means that hospitals and aged care facilities must keep pace by providing a comprehensively trained and adequately resourced workforce. Roger says that it’s critical that his team of project managers and skilled trades people undertake specialised industry training to learn how to work with people suffering from illnesses including dementia, anxiety and depression. “Our project managers and trades people need to take special care. Everything has to be done to the most microscopic detail.” Starting next month, Coverite is providing tailored industry training for its project managers, plumbers, electricians, tilers, carpenters, vinyl installers and painters. The training will focus on risk management and cover key skills such as attention to detail, problem solving and communication, as well as general awareness about dealing with challenging and unpredictable behaviour. “Our staff need to protect themselves and others by knowing when and where to lock doors, and when they must team up with a colleague,” explains Roger. “Patients dealing with unfamiliar environments, people, or changes in care practice may become aggressive, which can be distressing.” Davy explains that the training and awareness program is another example of Coverite’s commitment to its people and culture. “It’s important that my team receive regular and relevant industry training, because quality and customer care is in our core values,” said Roger.

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