Success for SA-first Specialist Dementia Care Program

An SA-first Specialist Dementia Care Program (SDCP) that combines community living with specialised care is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Based on a successful model established interstate, the SDCP is reporting positive outcomes in stabilising patient symptoms and transitioning patients to residential care facilities.

The program offers people with severe behavioural and psychological dementia symptoms care beyond a traditional residential facility, without them needing to be in hospital.

“We are taking some of the most vulnerable patients who have advanced dementia and transitioning them back into residential aged care facilities. Dementia is a progressive disease. We want our patients living in a home-like environment, rather than in an acute setting,” said Nurse Consultant Luke Shepperd.

Based at the Uniting Communities Magnolia Cottage at Aldersgate Felixstow, the service provides a transitional community home for up to nine residents – each has their own private room and access to shared social areas and gardens.

The SDCP has placed 17 clients at Magnolia Cottage, with 8 successful discharges that have transitioned successfully into mainstream residential aged care within 111 days – well under the guidelines of 6-18 months.

By creating a dementia-friendly environment that provides specialised care and therapy for individual patients to reduce their symptoms, the SDCP facilitates a smooth transition into a mainstream residential care home.

One particularly positive outcome involves a patient who successfully transitioned into a nursing home in regional SA, after spending over a year in the health system across different local health networks and at the SDCU Cottage.

At Magnolia Cottage, patients are supported with specialist care from geriatricians, nurses and care workers, with access to allied health services from the dedicated SDCP cottage. They can be referred from a variety of pathways to Dementia Support Australia for access to a Needs Based Assessment.

“It’s a multidisciplinary approach and the specialist clinicians offer personalised care so we identify each patient’s likes, dislikes, triggers, de-escalations,” Nurse Consultant Luke Shepperd said.

During the transition, SDCP staff follows up monthly with the carer or residential aged care facility, to review ongoing patient care.

The SA SDCP is a partnership between Central Adelaide Local Health Network, SA Health and Uniting Communities, and is funded by the Commonwealth.

Main Image: (L-R) Betsy Yu (Aldersgate Clinical Nurse), Luke Shepperd (CALHN Nurse Consultant), Mitchell Jones (Aldersgate Enrolled Nurse), Myreen Deqilla (Aldersgate Enrolled Nurse), Mandeep Kuar (Aldersgate Care Worker), Dr. Bruno Franchi (CALHN Geriatrician).