As previously reported by Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - 1 Mar 2018
Ozcare in Port Douglas is working with researchers from Flinders University on a novel project that aims to build a better, universal model for the management and care of residents with a dementia syndrome.
Facility manager Daniel Robinson and manager of clinical care, Puneet Sharma, are very supportive of the project, and have generated a vital enthusiasm and commitment among the staff.
The nursing home is one of five around the nation involved in the Harmony in the Bush project, which has received a two-year, $1.5 million from the federal government, part of the $35 million the government has budgeted towards innovation in dementia care and other aged-care services.
Dementia is a huge problem and getting worse. Around 53 per cent of residents of nursing homes have a dementia syndrome, which is not a single disease but a group of conditions characterised by the gradual impairment of brain function.
One of the hardest parts of caring for residents with a dementia syndrome is the agitation that often accompanies these diseases.
It takes a heavy toll on everyone – nursing home residents, carers, families.
“It’s not just about the care of the residents . . . it’s also about the stress on the staff and what they take back to their families at the end of the day,” said project officer Abraham Kuot, a research fellow in public health at Flinders University.
Studies overseas have looked at ways of helping residents with a dementia syndrome mitigate the most distressing behaviours that go with dementia, and among them music has been found to be useful.
Harmony in the Bush will build on these findings in research which has never been done before in this country.
Researcher Prue Mellor said dementia care in 2018 was vastly more flexible than 10 years ago but there was a need to get a model that was consistent and could be widely introduced.
Such a system looks toward minimising the use of behaviour modifying drugs, instead individually tailoring the management and care of residents living with a dementia syndrome.
This approach is dependent on staff involvement. Abraham Kuot said things like art and music had shown good potential.
“Agitation is certainly among the most challenging behaviours. Some residents may become aggressive when agitated.
“Our research looks at identifying the triggers in the environment that cause agitation, while introducing positive stimulus that may reduce agitation. Music is one of the positive stimuli.
“If you look at the lifestyle these individuals enjoyed before the onset of this disease, when you bring it back it often revives their memories, and that’s how you can get positive outcomes.
“Some residents are good at visual arts, so that works for them if you bring it back.”
He said the current way of doing things “is more centre focused, whereas this way is more personalised and person centred.
“It’s more about letting residents develop their daily routines, walk around when they want to and listen to music when they want to.”
The project will also measure the sleep patterns of some of the residents, which is a particular interest of both Daniel and Puneet.