Meeting the needs of patients with dementia

Adam Wittwer1, Brittany Prout2

1University of South Australia, 108 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia, 5001, witap001@mymail.unisa.edu.au
2University of South Australia, 108 North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia, 5001, probm001@mymail.unisa.edu.au

Background

“Meeting the needs of patients with dementia” was a nine week community development project facilitated by fourth year UniSA Occupational Therapy students Adam Wittwer and Brittany Prout, in collaboration with the Whyalla Hospital in April-June 2015. The project was undertaken in response to needs expressed by staff for increased support in working with patients with dementia, and to increase occupational engagement for patients in an often time and resource-limited setting.

Methods

Staff were invited to have a participatory role in the project’s needs analysis, decision-making, and strategy development processes, through various discussions, workshops and meetings. Through the project’s needs analysis three main themes were identified: 1) enhanced engagement and stimulation for patients during their time in hospital, 2) increased education for staff and families surrounding dementia and best care practices, 3) a more supportive physical and socio-cultural hospital environment.

Results

From the needs analysis findings, the staff and project facilitators collaboratively worked to create two practical resources for use in the hospital: an Understanding Dementia education resource, and a hospital-specific Personal Life Journal. These were disseminated to the hospital in the project’s final week.

Discussion

The project and resulting resources worked to build capacity within the hospital community by increasing understanding of dementia and need-driven behaviours, provide practical information to support staff and families, and enable staff to better know and engage with their patients. Thus, the project worked to promote a collaborative, person-centred approach to the care of patients with dementia in the Whyalla Hospital.

Biography

Adam Wittwer and Brittany Prout are Occupational Therapists originally from Whyalla and Port Lincoln respectively. They completed their studies in Occupational Therapy with the University of South Australia in 2015.  Adam began working for Country Health SA in the Adelaide Hills in early 2016. He has an interest in community health and the health of older people, and believes all people should be equitably supported to live healthy, meaningful lives.As an OT, Brittany is passionate about providing a collaborative approach to care which enables people to live to their full potential and lead enriched and meaningful lives.