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New trial bridges a CALD dementia gap

Dementia Jordan King and Di Goeman

A new RDNS nurse-led dementia trial to support people at risk of being overlooked by the health system because of language or cultural differences is underway across Melbourne.

“Too many people with dementia are tending to fall through the cracks simply because their first language   is not English or because their cultural background – for whatever reason – is seen to be different,” said Dr Di Goeman, lead investigator of the trial.

Goeman, a senior researcher at the RDNS Institute, said the key to the trial has been the recent appointment of a Specialist Dementia Nurse, Jordan King, to bridge a gap that is separating the current health system from people with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

“Sometimes we take it for granted that people with dementia will be diagnosed by a medical professional and then some form of treatment and care will commence.  In reality it is not that simple, especially with people from CALD backgrounds.

“We are not only talking about the person with cognitive impairment – we are talking about their families and carers as well,” Goeman said.

“Diagnosis is not always timely – dementia is often incremental, sneaking up over a long period of time so that all of a sudden a crisis point is reached.

“The specialist dementia nurse, with unique skills in in-home screening, advocacy and support, is able to intervene, work with families, offer advice and put into place a raft of assistance that they may not have known was available.”

Goeman said the nurse was already proving to be a “crucial linchpin”, especially in areas such as:

  • Working with the family doctor to establish a primary diagnosis;
  • Providing emotional support to clients and families;
  • Assisting with tailored prompt cards for showering, shaving and other day-to-day activities;
  • Referrals to Alzheimer’s Australia (Victoria) for education and counselling;
  • ACAS referrals

The pilot program (Dementia Care in the Community – Access for CALD Communities Project) is funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

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