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RN students need better dementia training: care provider

More dementia training is necessary in degree courses for undergraduate RNs, a dementia care leader has argued.

General manager of residential services at dementia and aged-care specialist HammondCare, Angela Raguz, said some RN graduates employed in dementia-specific services had received as little as half an hour of training about the disease during their undergraduate degree course.

Further, she said, anecdotal stories of nursing staff in emergency wards at hospitals struggling to manage care for people with dementia were now commonplace.

“One in 10 Australians over 65 live with dementia and it is the second leading cause of death, yet remains a non-compulsory subject and appears to be largely unrecognised in the competencies for nursing training at universities around the country,” Raguz said. “The amount of time spent learning about dementia in undergraduate degrees varies according to individual universities. There is no consistency, but across the board it is considered minimal.

“With our ageing population and one person every six minutes diagnosed with dementia in Australia, it should be included as a core skill of nursing training.”

Letting the onus of training and skills fall back to providers creates issues with consistency, Raguz said.

“While graduate programs from providers and workforce training such as Dementia Care Essentials are excellent contributors to ongoing training, the starting point needs to be that dementia care becomes a compulsory element of undergraduate studies,” Raguz said. “Dementia is a real issue facing many older Australians and we need a responsive, cohesive approach to ensure the best possible training for RNs in this area.”

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