Real life training to help manage dementia care

A Flinders University team has investigated whether simulation training and coaching would help aged care workers to better prevent and manage aggressive events in older people living with dementia.

Aggressive events, defined as ‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’, are very common in the aged-cared sector and with an ageing population their incidence is expected to rise.

Seventeen aged care workers from ACH Group, a not-for-profit community and residential aged care service provider, completed education modules alongside simulation training using actors and real-life scenarios, with real-time coaching.

Results of the study were published in the Australasian Journal of Ageing.

Lead author Professor Sue Gordon, a Caring Futures Institute researcher and Chair of Restorative Care in Ageing at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, says one of main aims of the pilot study was to determine what impact high-intensity simulation training had on the self-belief of the carers themselves to manage aggressive events.

Professor Sue Gordon

“What we do know is that most aggressive events are preventable by avoiding or managing behavioural causes and triggers and reacting appropriately,” says Professor Gordon.

“Our study found that after the training, most carers reported a willingness to change their practices, and more than half had indeed made changes six months down the track.”

Most study participants also reported that the training had contributed to them staying in their job and expressed support for the inclusion of coaching and simulations into the vocational training of aged care workers.

“As Australia’s ageing population continues to grow, we must look at solutions to support our aged-care workers and in turn the clients they support,” Professor Gordon says.

“While further research is needed, our study shows that the inclusion of high-intensity simulation training and coaching could have a positive impact on both the carer and patient.”

‘Simulation and coaching to prevent aggressive events in aged care: A pilot study’ by Susan Gordon, David Gillham, Lily Xiao, Anita De Bellis and Nicky Baker is published in the Australasian Journal of Ageing. DOI: 10.1111/ajag.12961. The project was funded by Safework SA. ‘In kind’ support was provided by ACH Group and Flinders University. Professor Sue Gordon is co-funded by the Aged Care Housing Group, and this project was developed collaboratively to meet a need within that organisation.

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