Successful start for new national dementia service

More than 120 people in residential aged care with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) have been supported across Australia through a new world-first dementia care initiative.

The Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRT) program - operated by HammondCare - is an industry-led, Australian Government-supported national approach to assisting aged care residents with BPSD, and will also help create valuable data for future planning and policy direction.

HammondCare CE, Dr Stephen Judd, said the referrals cover a diverse range of complex needs across all states and territories, and have resulted in timely, expert and person-focused responses on the ground, with most cases involving ongoing support.

“Our teams are responding to severe behaviours associated with dementia and other underlying causes such as pain management, medication impacting on behaviours, auditory intrusion – complex situations causing stress to residents and staff,” Dr Judd said.

“As well as responding effectively to support people with severe BPSD, we are also providing ongoing management of issues and support to staff, as well as collating data that has the potential to help design improved services into the future.

“The reality is, there needs to be greater understanding of the incidence of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia – and the underlying causes.

“This is a world-leading approach – no where else is there a national program addressing these issues.”

Highly skilled teams

A key to the success of the program is the highly experienced and skilled teams being developed. Dr Judd highlighted the role of Dr Stephen Macfarlane as clinical governance lead of the SBRT program.

Dr Macfarlane is Associate Professor of Aged Psychiatry at Monash University, and is Director of the Caulfield Aged Psychiatry Service in Melbourne.

“Dr Macfarlane’s valued involvement helps ensure we have the very best in clinical direction as part of supporting residential aged care providers in their care of some of Australia's most vulnerable citizens,” Dr Judd said.

There have been about 30 consultants appointed to the program throughout Australia. Some of these key appointments include:

  • Operations Manager of HammondCare’s Dementia Centre, Marie Alford, now heads the SBRT
  • Former manager of DBMAS South Australia, Tim Wallace, as SBRT National Manager
  • Western Australian Nurse of the Year 2007 Peter McHale as SBRT Senior Consultant
  • Ian Nethery as Tasmanian SBRT Senior Consultant.
Strategic partnerships

Alongside the appointment of key people, developing state organisational partnerships has also further strengthened the successful early operation of the SBRT program, Dr Judd said.

“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into partnerships with Wesley Mission Brisbane in Queensland and Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) in the Northern Territory, for the delivery of SBRT services.

“These are outstanding organisations with strong records of providing dementia care services. These partnerships complement the opening of SBRT offices in all other states across the nation.”

Visit the SBRT website