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Dementia care enhanced in South Australian-first program

28 June 2021    

A nation-leading dementia training program which immerses aged care staff in the lives of the residents they work with is being delivered in South Australia for the first time.

The Meaningful Engagement Mentoring (MEM) program is upskilling Helping Hand Aged Care staff members, as part of the organisation’s commitment to being a learning organisation.

The MEM program is delivered through the Centre for Dementia Learning and runs over several months, assisting the participants to become mentors to other staff once they’ve completed the course, while also enabling them to develop and implement purposeful activities together.

In this South Australia-first delivery of MEM, sixteen staff across Helping Hand’s regional and metropolitan sites are taking part.

“In Australia, 250 people are diagnosed with dementia every day and it is our responsibility to deliver the highest quality individualised care we possibly can,” said Helping Hand CEO Chris Stewart.

“Helping Hand has designed a scholarship fund to elevate our professional development and I am heartened by the numbers of staff who are committed to building their knowledge bank. It certainly demonstrates the appetite among the aged care workforce for continual learning so they can provide the highest quality care possible.”

Working with a colleague – a buddy - staff develop their own meaningful engagement program with one resident who they often care for. Over four months, the program aims to build relationships, improve staff understanding and foster engagement with residents.

The MEM program delivery has been supported by the Helping Hand Dementia Scholarship fund, which was established in memory of Anne Gibson. A range of donors have supported the fund.

More than 30 staff across the organisation are being supported by the Helping Hand Dementia Scholarship in its augural year and have undertaken a range of professional development opportunities such as a two-year Diploma of Dementia Care through the University of Tasmania, international online conferences, and the MEM program.

The staff taking part in the Dementia Scholarship education work across all areas of Helping Hand’s workforce, including home care, residential and corporate services, and come from metropolitan and regional sites.

To find out more about the MEM program view the video or click here.