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Healthcare Professional Family Carer
  • Dementia
  • 07 September 2022
  • News

See the person not the behaviours, urges dementia textbook

  • Author: HammondCare
  • Read time: min. read

The BPSD Textbook is a new must-have textbook for every health and aged care worker involved in the care of people living with dementia.

BPSD Textbook: Addressing behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia, launched at the International Dementia Conference 2022, seeks to reshape the narrative in aged care homes towards understanding and seeing the person living with dementia rather than their behaviours, and aims to establish non-pharmacological interventions as the best practice response, rather than medication and restraint.

Up to 90% of people living with dementia will experience forms of BPSD during their journey with the disease, and many of them will be wrongly prescribed medications or chemically or physically restrained.

BPSD may include psychosis, agitation and aggression, depression, anxiety, apathy, impulsivity, pacing, vocalisations, appetite and eating changes, sleep disturbances, distress during personal care and wayfinding difficulties.

BPSD may include:

  • psychosis
  • agitation and aggression
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • impulsivity
  • pacing
  • vocalisations
  • appetite and eating changes
  • sleep disturbances
  • distress during personal care and wayfinding difficulties.

Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, one of the book’s authors, along with Associate Professor Stephen Macfarlane and Dr Madeleine Healey, said understanding the person is the first and fundamental step in managing what is often complex and multifaceted.

“Changes in behaviour will have many catalysts and causes, be they as a consequence of the progressive nature of the many organic conditions encompassed by the term dementia, or on too many occasions, a reasonable response to unmet needs and circumstances a person with dementia will face”
Colm Cunningham
Associate Professor & book author

Get your copy of the BPSD Textbook

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The 828-page book, which is also accessible to carers and laypeople, draws on international literature and research but also decades of practical experience of HammondCare providing dementia residential and in-home care, as well as national advisory support through Dementia Support Australia.

It features more than 50 individual case studies from the frontline of dementia care to illustrate BPSD situations and the care approach that works.

Mask group

Signing the BPSD Textbook at the launch at the International Dementia Conference 2022.

“Every individual with BPSD should have a holistic assessment examining lifestyle, biological, social, psychological, psychiatric, environmental, and other factors. Causes could include undiagnosed pain, unskilled care, an unsuitable physical environment, or feelings of personal loss.”
Colm Cunningham
Associate Professor & book author

The BPSD Textbook begins with chapters discussing the major dementias which include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s dementia, Huntingdon’s disease.

Also in the book, Professor Macfarlane, Head of Clinical Services for HammondCare’ s Dementia Centre, explains the medications prescribed for dementia – antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, cholinesterase inhibitors NMDA antagonists and opioids – and the limited circumstances where they are an effective response to BPSD.

“It is reasonable to conclude that the evidence base to support the use of any medication in BPSD is very limited. For those agents where convincing evidence exists, the effect sizes are small, and their use is limited by significant problems with side effects.”
Stephen Macfarlane
Associate Professor & book author

It is estimated that more than 70% of people living with dementia in residential care are prescribed at least one psychotropic medication, while about 30% are prescribed an antipsychotic.

HammondCare’s hope is the book will improve quality of life for people with dementia and better support those who care for them. “When we understand that behaviour is like a language – a way of expressing need such as pain, frustration, loneliness, fear anxiety or any number of common human experiences – then everything changes."
Mike Baird
HammondCare Chief Executive

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports up to 472,000 Australians are living with dementia, including more than half of people in aged care homes. By 2058, Australians living with dementia will more than double.

Get your copy of the BPSD Textbook

Buy now