Increased dementia training needed for RNs – HammondCare

Undergraduate registered nurses (RNs) need to receive more dementia training in their degree courses, according to General Manager, Residential Services at HammondCare, Angela Raguz.

“One in 10 Australians over 65 live with dementia and it is the second leading cause of death, yet remains a non-compulsory subject and appears to be largely unrecognised in the competencies for nursing training at universities around the country,” Ms Raguz said. Speaking during Dementia Awareness Month, Ms Raguz said some RN graduates employed in their dementia-specific services had received as little as half an hour of training about the condition, during their three year undergraduate degree course.

“The amount of time spent learning about dementia in undergraduate degrees varies according to individual universities – there is no consistency, but across the board it is considered minimal.”

Ms Raguz said RNs were an essential component of residential aged care, but often needed retraining to manage the specific skills for supporting older people and people with dementia.

“Education in dementia management is regarded as a specialist skill – but with our ageing population and one person every six minutes diagnosed with dementia in Australia, it should be included as a core skill of nursing training.”

Ms Raguz said anecdotal stories of nursing staff in emergency wards at hospitals struggling to manage care for people with dementia were now commonplace. “With over 80 per cent of residents in HammondCare’s residential care services having a diagnosis of dementia, it is crucial that training at universities is provided specifically for the care of people with dementia, and not just aged care nursing.

“While graduate programs from providers and workforce training such as Dementia Care Essentials are excellent contributors to ongoing training, the starting point needs to be that dementia care becomes a compulsory element of undergraduate studies.

“Now is the time to focus on this issue given that the demand for aged care nurses and carers will increase by 40 per cent over the next five years. It is not enough for the onus for training and skills to fall back to providers, which creates issues with consistency.

“Dementia is a very real issue facing many older Australians and we need a responsive, cohesive approach to ensure the best possible training for RNs in this area,” Ms Raguz said.