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Dr Kate Laver, NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow in Rehabilitation Aged and Extended Care at Flinders University. Photo: Flinders University

Project zeroes in on post-diagnosis dementia care

Evidence-based occupational therapy, exercise and carer support will be the key focuses of a new project that aims to improve post-diagnosis care for people with mild to moderate symptoms of dementia.

Dr Kate Laver, from the Aged and Extended Care research group at Flinders University, said the three guidelines focus on promoting independence, delaying functional decline and reducing carer stress and ill health.

She added they are relevant for up to 85 per cent of people with mild to moderate symptoms of dementia who are living in the community.

The research team will recruit up to 30 health professionals across Australia who will take on the role of implementation clinicians. These clinicians will be trained and supported to develop and enact a site-specific implementation plan.

Laver explained: “The implementation clinicians will come together to form three groups – one group is dedicated to increasing opportunities for exercise for people with dementia, one group is committed to increasing delivery of comprehensive occupational therapy treatment and the third group aims to improve support and information for informal carers. Each clinician will be upskilled in quality improvement which will assist them to make changes within their workplace, increasing the quality of care.”

The Agents of Change project will also involve establishing a national quality collaborative to implement guideline recommendations.

It is being funded through a $770,517 NHMRC grant and will involve other Flinders researchers professor Maria Crotty, Monica Cations, associate professor Billingsley Kaambwa and associate professor Craig Whitehead, along with experts from Griffith University and University of Sydney.

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