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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

New ‘Ask Annie’ body language tips aimed at enhancing dementia workforce skills

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Dementia Australia has launched the latest module in the Ask Annie app, ahead of Aged Care Employee Day on Sunday (August 8), to enhance care workers’ knowledge of how our body language can impact a person living with dementia.

The free body language module adds new content to the app, which provides care workers with interactive, self-paced teaching modules, to refresh, strengthen and refine their skills.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the new module will help care workers with positive interactions and aid in developing trust through building their knowledge of body language and the impact body language can have.

Facial expressions, body posture and even the personal space you provide can make all the difference to the experience of a person living with dementia during interactions in everyday settings – whether it be when eating a meal, or supporting them to have a shower.

Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe

“Good communication in dementia care is critical,” McCabe said.

“Being aware of our body language, how it might be interpreted and ensuring it is as positive as possible can help people living with dementia feel at ease, build trust and connect.”

Body language is physical behaviour which is used to communicate a person’s thoughts and intentions.

“Facial expressions, body posture and even the personal space you provide can make all the difference to the experience of a person living with dementia during interactions in everyday settings – whether it be when eating a meal, or supporting them to have a shower,” McCabe said.

The new free body language Ask Annie module adds new content to the app, which provides care workers with interactive, self-paced teaching modules, to refresh, strengthen and refine their skills.

“We’re very pleased to offer this as gifted content, in celebration of our aged care workforce.”

Dementia advocate and chair of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee, Bobby Redman, lives with dementia and says the app will be very useful in helping carers to be aware of their body language, which is so important, especially as language skills reduce.

“It is vital to remember that our senses are impacted by dementia – vision, hearing and touch all change, and we may experience things in a very different way,” Redman said.

“Please help us to cope with these changes by using clear body language to supplement what you are saying – actions speak louder than words.”

It is vital to remember that our senses are impacted by dementia – vision, hearing and touch all change, and we may experience things in a very different way. Please help us to cope with these changes by using clear body language to supplement what you are saying – actions speak louder than words.

Dementia advocate, Bobby Redman

McCabe said Aged Care Employee Day is an important opportunity to acknowledge the essential role care workers play, where despite the pandemic, they continue to provide care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Our clients often share stories of inclusive and creative ways residential aged care managers and teams provide care, such as regularly inviting a resident known to be a night owl to join staff when they sit down to share a pizza.

“Another is when a care worker told us about a client smiling and reminiscing about being 16 again when she played her a favourite song or, when families were unable to visit, the staff encouraged them to send emails that they printed and gave to the residents to keep and read for themselves – the care worker involved said with one resident she knew the emails were kept, neatly folded in her handbag and often re-read,” McCabe said.

“We thank the aged care workforce for their professionalism, compassion, empathy, respect and the difference they make to the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers.”

The Ask Annie app content continues to grow and the new body language module joins another four gifted modules already available.

Dementia Australia is focused on adding to the educational content in Ask Annie to ensure care workers have access to new information and the opportunity to continue to expand their knowledge.

Ask Annie can be downloaded for free individually via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store with free access to five modules.

The full application with access to all modules is $60 per person per year, with multi-license packages available for organisations.

For information on purchasing packages, email cdl@dementia.org.au.

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