Topic: The Dementia Doula role – Ensuring no one impacted by advancing dementia goes it alone

Day: Wednesday 14 October 2020

Time: 2:10pm – 2:30pm AEDT

Abstract:

The newly emerging, non-clinical Dementia Doula role provides an innovative approach to supporting someone with advancing dementia, families, and staff during the final 12-18 months.  Role development is responding to unequal end-of-life care practices when compared with other life-limiting illnesses (Crowther et al, 2013, van Reit Paap et al 2014).  Consistent approaches do not currently exist for building and connecting supportive networks to ensure end-of-life planning is in place or enacted. By providing information, education and support, families are better prepared for future decision making and the creation of their own plan moving forward.  The newly emerging, non-clinical Dementia Doula role provides an innovative approach to supporting someone with advancing dementia, families, and staff during the final 12-18 months.  Role development is responding to unequal end-of-life care practices when compared with other life-limiting illnesses (Crowther et al, 2013, van Reit Paap et al 2014). 

Consistent approaches do not currently exist for building and connecting supportive networks to ensure end-of-life planning is in place or enacted. By providing information, education and support, families are better prepared for future decision making and the creation of their own plan moving forward.  This innovative role will ensure that professional and skilled staff within the aged care sector have a career path opportunity which focusses exclusively on the provision of compassionate care.  It is a stand-alone role which sits perfectly alongside other roles focusing on clinical and personal care.  Many staff are attracted to the compassionate care aspects of health and ageing.  Unfortunately, once within the industry, the reality is that time constraints leave compassionate care as a “nice to have rather than a need to have”.  The creation of the Dementia Doula role has generated a new leadership and advocacy role within a new palliative model of care.  The Dementia Doula will adapt to any environment and within any staffing model.  

Role benefits:
– Attracting new skilled staff to the aged care sector
– Retention of existing professional staff
– Increased job satisfaction and longevity within the industry
– Timely planning and implementation of tailored palliative care practices.  
– Decreased hospital presentations for short/long term admissions.  Ensuring end-of-life options are not limited to hospital or residential settings.  
– Providing a conduit between non-clinical and clinical components of palliative care.  The National Palliative Care Standard (2018) states a different and more collective approach is required due to the long unpredictable trajectory of dementia.  
– Empowering families in actively caring and implementing dying wishes.- Preparing families earlier for associated grief and loss.
– Supporting Aged Care Quality Standards: Consumer directed care – Standards 1 and 3.The creation of a formalised Dementia Doula role and a more consistent approach to end-of-life care ensures no one goes it alone.

References:
Crowther, J., Wilson, K.C.M., Horton, S., and Lloyd-Williams, M. (2013) Palliative Care for dementia – time to think again? Q.J. Med. 106, 491-494Palliative Care Australia (2018) National Palliative Care Standards – 5th Edition 2018, Palliative Care Australia, Canberra

Biography:

Wendy Hall has worked within health and aged care for over 25 years and is Director and founder of Dementia Doulas International. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing, a Diploma of Applied Science (Ambulance Studies), a Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment & Training and a Certificate IV in Celebrancy. Wendy has used her diverse skill set within a variety of settings including the acute care, pre-hospital, community & residential sectors.

Her role in training development and mentoring for emerging Dementia Doula’s has evolved over many years and brings together her areas of passion to better serve those she represents. Her interactive approach challenges mindsets and encourages those supporting someone or working within the area of dementia to explore a different way of thinking. Her goal is to shift preconceived ideas about existing barriers to dementia care and influence the palliative care space so that no one goes it alone.