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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Breaking down the stigma of dementia


Hakea Grove Aged Care has welcomed a new Dementia Nurse Specialist to its team.

Jo Luhr (pictured) has worked in dementia-specific care for more than 30 years and has over 40 years experience in aged care.

As Australia this week marks Dementia Action Week, Hakea CEO, Jo Heslin said dementia care was a growing issue within aged care facilities.

“As people are living longer we are seeing the incidents of living with dementia is increasing and as such we need to ensure that we use the best practise dementia principals to ensure that we provide quality aged care for our residents,” said Ms Heslin.

Ms Heslin said people living with dementia were one of the most vulnerable groups in aged care.

“Because of the stigma around the diagnosis and the misconception that all people living with dementia will develop behaviours that may be challenging to care for,” she said.

“Being able to support people to continue to do things that bring them joy that supports self-esteem and values to ensure they still feel valued supported and loved.”

In Dementia Action Week, Dementia Australia has called on all Australians to consider how discrimination impacts people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Specialist Dementia Nurse, Jo Luhr, says being connected with loved ones with dementia was key to providing the best possible care.

“By assessing their needs and ensuring that there is still a consecutiveness with their community, their loved one their environment and whatever it is that is important to them,” said Ms Luhr.

“It is about identifying strategies that you can put in place to improve the quality of care for the person.

“It’s also our job to educate the carers, the families and the friends on what the dementia journey is all about and what can be expected. The fact that nobody’s journey is the same.”

She said focusing on the positives in a person’s pre-dementia life was often helpful in ongoing care.

“We need to work from a social model of care rather than medical model of care,” said Ms Luhr.

“I want to look at the positive aspect of the person’s life and what they still can do rather than focus on what they can’t do anymore.

“You don’t want to focus on the loss but rather the positives. I want them to be enabled to continue to take risk – to be independent and to be able to still voice choice. ‘

“Our goal is to value our resident’s lifestyle and past social history so we can incorporate their knowledge and wisdom into their daily life.

“We want staff that are emotionally present that form relationships with residents that enables them to truly know the person behind the disease.”

It is important to remember behind every person living with dementia is someone’s mother, daughter, son, brother – the person behind the disease just wants to be loved, added Ms Heslin.

“Caring for those with dementia is a team approach,” she said.

“We work closely with care workers, nurses, geriatrician, families, GP’s and nurse practitioners. It takes a team approach; it is about relationship focused care of the people that share responsibility for the care of our resident’s holistic care and what each member of the team can bring.”

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