Ozcare’s Dementia Advisory and Support Service offers information and support to people with dementia and their families throughout Queensland.
For some, this may mean support to go through a diagnosis process, if they are concerned about their memory. For others, it may mean help coming to grips with dementia and providing support and suggestions for facing daily challenges.
We also help people to navigate the aged care system so they are aware of all that’s on offer for people with dementia.
We can visit you in your own home or wherever you feel comfortable to speak – either face-to-face or by telephone. We generally work with people for 2-3 months to help them formulate a plan for living with dementia.
We are a free service, funded by the Federal Government’s Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). For more information contact 1800 Ozcare (1800 692 273)
Ozcare Dementia Advisor Denise Hodder shares her story of a special event at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, which involved people with dementia getting stuck into some serious gardening in the springtime alongside family and friends.
I run a monthly social group which we call the ‘Living Well with Dementia group’. It’s made up of about 20 or so people – half are living with dementia, and the other half are family carers. The group has existed in various forms for several years now. We’ve done many activities and outings over the years, including a very successful program of visits to the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.
Earlier in the year, we came up with the idea of doing some spring planting in the Botanic Gardens in Bundaberg with the group. We held the planting session in Dementia Action Week, which takes place in September every year.
In the end 18 people came along that day: 8 people had dementia, and the rest were partners or carers. Bundaberg Regional Council put on an amazing program for us: they supplied nearly 200 snap dragons, a stack of pots and all this soil, and set up tables with water and tools all to hand. Everyone had the chance to plant up the seedlings into a pot and take them home.
What we saw that day were people chatting to others, engaged in the activity, with smiles on their faces. I don’t think there was one person with dementia who didn’t join in.
The success of the morning was Bruce, who is a keen gardener and is living with dementia. He practically took over! His wife was beaming to see how happy he was – doing something that was useful and that he loved. When we met up the following month, he was able to remember it which tells us the event made a big impression.
Reg and Ella also came along on the day. Ella has dementia, and she loves her garden too. It was wonderful to see Ella smiling and really focusing on potting up the plants.
Gardening has many therapeutic benefits, and it’s especially good for people coping with the loss of memory and motor skills in dementia. Gardening engages the senses, and also gives people an opportunity to reminisce – perhaps about their own gardens or a garden from their childhood.
We hoped it would work well, and it sure did. And we’ll definitely be doing another session in the Council’s parks next year!
Dementia advisor Ruth McCall shares the story of how a group of people living with dementia are relishing getting back into the swing of dining out with friends each month in Townsville.
We started the ‘Dinner with Friends’ group in December 2018 after some people we support with dementia said they’d be interested in meeting up on Friday nights.
People told us that they really missed socialising in the evenings, so this group meets that need. It also means the person who is supporting them – their carer – can have a break from the caring role.
At the moment 15 people come along and we’d welcome more. They are aged between 65 and 80 years old, so it’s quite a diverse group.
We meet every month. Initially we met at the Townsville Day Respite Centre, and we held themed nights – so for example we had an Indian night (which included a cooking demonstration), and another time we had a tropical mock-tail party.
In the middle of the year, we went out to an Italian restaurant. Everyone clearly loved being out at a restaurant, socialising with other people.
So now we go out for dinner to a different restaurant each month. Last time we went out for Chinese; the month before that we had a pub counter meal. Each time the group decides where we’re going as a group for the following month.
We’ve got some real characters in the group. They are really enjoying meeting up and being able to get out and have tea together. Quite a few members of the group are also involved with our weekly walking group, which has really taken off.
We do have to be careful about making sure everyone is able to get to and from the meal, and we help some people out with transport.
At the beginning people were quieter, but now people are having some really good interactions. Over the year, great friendships have been built and people seem to love it.
If you’d like to find out more about the Dinner with Friends group in Townsville, contact 1800 Ozcare (1800 692 273).
Erin Betros talks about her work as a dementia advisor with Ozcare – and the personal experiences that led her to want to work in this area.
I joined the Dementia Advisory and Support Service based in Ozcare’s Toowoomba office around Easter time in 2019.
I worked in human relations for over a decade, but it was personal experience that led me to want to work in dementia care. My mum had younger onset dementia. She was a registered nurse and was in her 50s at the time when things started going wrong with her work. I was in my early 20s then and I struggled with a lot of things at the time. There was a lack of information, education and understanding about dementia. I had no idea what I was doing. We struggled with getting a diagnosis.
My mum passed away 5 years ago. I waited about 18 months before I began doing study in dementia care through the University of Tasmania – and I’m working away at my Masters in Dementia now. My experience with my mum certainly motivated me to try to make sure that other people didn’t go through the same things that we did.
Occasionally I mention my personal experience to clients, if I feel that it would help them to know – I’m not just talking about recommendations that I’ve read in a book. Each person’s path is different though, and I’m careful not to project my experience onto other people.
In our work as dementia advisors, no two days are the same. We receive referrals via My Aged Care and spend our time visiting people living in the community who have a diagnosis of dementia or who are experiencing difficulties with their cognition. We tailor support plans specific to their needs and assist them to meet their support goals.
For one person we might help them with seeking a diagnosis. Some people know something’s wrong, but they just need some support to point them in the right direction. We may even go with them to see the doctor or to the memory clinic to get a diagnosis.
For others, they might just need some help with My Aged Care. Perhaps they are caring for a loved one or they might be living with dementia themselves. They know they need support but they are having difficulty navigating the system.
For many people, we help them to set up the appropriate social activities so that they can stay engaged and involved in the community.
Stigma is an issue that comes up again and again. I speak to people who are not telling their family and friends that they have had this diagnosis. Unfortunately some GPs also still say things like ‘it’s just a normal part of getting older’ – even though dementia is not a normal part of ageing.
Without a clear diagnosis, people are less likely to get good support, and they’re in danger of becoming isolated. By the time many people with dementia realise they need help, it can be difficult to get the right level of help at home.
I think the best part of our job is seeing people get the support that they need – because we can create such an individualised plan for people. I love seeing an improvement in someone’s life based on the support and education that we’re able to offer them and their family.
Just recently I spoke to a woman who was just overwhelmed with the fact that she was able to learn something new that could help – she knew what she was doing to support her husband with dementia wasn’t working.
People are just amazing if you give them the opportunity to get outside of the situation that they’re in. You can often lead people to the right solution, you’ve just got to support them to get there.
Our specialist Dementia Advisors, using their extensive knowledge and experience, are able to host private workshops for health and aged care providers to further develop their knowledge and skills in the area of dementia care. In so doing, we’re able to help them better meet the needs of their clients.
Providers will need to meet the costs associated with delivering the workshop.
Call 1800 Ozcare (1800 692 273) for a quote.
We offer a range of services to support people living with dementia, their carers and families to make sense of things and move forward.
Let’s talk about dementia. We’ve compiled some helpful information to help families make sense of behaviours and put in place strategies to go forward.