by ACN Policy team

ACN is committed to representing the knowledge and expertise of our membership in policy development throughout the Australian health and aged care system. In this series we want to share what ACN is doing in the policy space with our Fellows, Members and health care community and how your contributions shape our messages to the many consultations that we get involved in.

Specialist Dementia Care Units (SCDUs) are being established by the Federal Government to support people who experience very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Consultations with stakeholders took place in January and February 2018 on how the SDCUs will intersect with existing supports for people with dementia, the high-level model of care and the funding and administrative options involved.


So what did we say?

Through input from our Fellows and Members working in aged care we formed the following points to relay to the Australian Government:

  • Effective and high-quality health care and management of people presenting with severe behavioural and psychological/psychiatric symptoms of BPSD can positively impact their quality of life and health outcomes
  • BPSD symptoms are wide-ranging requiring an understanding by service managers that extends beyond lifestyle and basic care considerations
  • Federal and state funding as well as effective oversight is lacking in BPSD where specialised care and services are often needed. Aged care facilities are often inadequately resourced in terms of clinical and management skills to meet the complex needs of residents with BPSD which extend beyond high-level physical care, including lack of access to specialist nursing and medical services
  • Nurses have the foundational skills to undertake skilled assessments, diagnosis, planning and regular review of care for people with BPSD. It is particularly crucial within BPSD service contexts that registered nursing roles not be substituted by unlicensed health workers (or however titled) as occurs throughout general areas of residential aged care
  • Funding to support continuing professional development (CPD) education for nurse managers, registered nurses (RNs), enrolled nurses (ENs) and assistants in nursing (unlicensed health workers) is essential to the timely identification and appropriate management of residents presenting with severe BPSD
  • Such funding needs to be acquitted against the employment of skilled nurses rather than be added to the general revenue stream of service providers. Specialist education at a state and territory level is necessary to ensure a skilled workforce in the effective management of BPSD residents.

Feedback on this consultation will be used to inform advice and decisions about SCDU design and implementation. The Australian Government intends to conduct further targeted consultation once the preferred model of care and administrative arrangements are decided.

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