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Thursday, October 28, 2021

St John WA and Dementia Training Australia combine to enhance patient experience

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More than 250 St John WA patient transport officers across WA have completed a new custom training program to better support patients living with dementia. 

The training is designed to build communication skills when caring for people living with dementia, enhance awareness of person-centred care, understand strategies that prevent escalation of distress, and how to optimise transitions of care.

The free program was delivered through a partnership between St John WA and Dementia Training Australia (DTA) and aims to improve the experience patients living with dementia when travelling with St John WA in a non-emergency setting.

It includes a series of online learning modules, followed by a face-to-face interactive session that simulates the required communication strategies for assisting patients living with the illness.

As part of the online learning modules, the St John WA team was able to build their understanding of the brain, different types of dementia, and communication matters. 

St John WA Metropolitan Manager Clinical Education, Dave Cutler, said the program was an important part of the St John WA Transport Officer training as they regularly interact with older patients.

Whilst dementia is not a part of normal aging, it does occur more often in older adults.

“The response from our team has been phenomenal,” Cutler said.

“Our overarching goal with this program is to improve the overall patient experience when being transported by our officers and provide a sense of comfort to any family, friends or carers at the scene. 

Cutler said dementia poses a unique challenge to healthcare providers, as patients at different stages of dementia will experience different challenges.

“All symptoms of dementia can impact how we communicate with patients, from minor memory loss to an inability to communicate,” he said.

“This is why a lot of the training focused on building rapport with the patient and involving them in decisions where possible, with aim of easing the burden of some of the daily challenges they face.” 

Dementia Training Australia Director WA and SA Ellie Newman said that this was the first time DTA had collaborated with St John WA to provide a tailored training program to meet their needs. 

“The customised program developed by DTA for St John WA sets a standard for dementia education with an important group who care for vulnerable people not only in metropolitan Perth, but right across Western Australia,” Newman said.

“DTA’s training program aims to help St John WA Transport Officers develop an understanding of dementia and provide tools to communicate and support a person living with dementia.”

A government-funded organisation, DTA is an alliance of four universities that create training, education and resources for those whose work involves the care of people living with dementia.

As a primary provider of healthcare services in WA, the customised training program was developed by DTA for St John WA at no cost to St John WA.

To read the original version of this story, visit St John WA here.

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