‘The D Word’: Allied Health led dementia professional development

Ms Jacqueline Kay1, Miss Laura Ferguson1, Ms Patricia Maggs1

1Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia

Background: Amongst Royal Melbourne Hospital Allied Health staff, a gap was identified in the knowledge and education regarding the management of patients with dementia. In response, an Allied Health led interdisciplinary education program was implemented. The program was evaluated to identify if providing this type of education in dementia care is feasible, leads to an increase in confidence, and whether there is a need for further education.

Method: In its second year of production, 120 allied health and nursing professionals attended a one-day program with presentations from: Medical, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Neuropsychology and Dietitics. Each discipline addressed specific, advertised objectives centring around two case studies for practical application.

Results: Of the 120 attendees, 100 (83%) responded to the post-program survey. The average attendee was an Allied Health practitioner with 1 year of experience, working in the acute setting.

The following was found:

  • 89% felt the objectives were met
  • 88.5% identified presentations as very good/excellent
  • 78% rated increased confidence with the treatment of dementia
  • 77% identified they would like further education in their specific field of work.
  • 85% would recommend the course to their colleagues
  • 19% rated the nursing presentation as excellent

The following topics were identified as requiring further exploration; palliative care, de-escalating aggressive behaviour, education of families, and the carer experience.

Discussion: Providing Allied Health led education with medical and nursing colleagues was found to be feasible, with additional education leading to increased clinician confidence when treating patients with dementia. There was a conclusive need for further education in the treatment and care for patients with dementia identified.


Jacqui is a senior clinician Physiotherapist in General Medicine. Jacqui has over 10 years experience in Australia and the UK, with a Masters of Health Services Management. Her passions include best-practice Physiotherapy care for patients with dementia, delirium and in palliative care.

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