Quality Dementia Care in the spotlight

On the 7th September, 2010. Dementia Australia is launching a new National Quality Dementia Care initiative in Sydney. With $3Million funding over 3 years, this Initiative will work to improve the quality of dementia care in Australia through better use of research evidence, and to provide a high-level platform for consumer-input into dementia research.

The Quality Dementia Care Initiative has two parts

a)    The National Quality Dementia Care Network – which will fund projects aimed at increasing the use of evidence on best-practice in dementia care;

b)    The Consumer Dementia Research Network – a nationally representative group of people with dementia, families and carers who will decide where and how the project funding should be spent, and also advise on and participate in all levels of dementia research.

Translating research evidence into better care outcomes

Academic research on health care can take a long time to make a practical difference (an average of 17 years by one estimate). To accelerate this process, the Quality Dementia Care Network will be supporting ‘Knowledge Translation’ projects that address significant gaps between evidence and practice in dementia care.

These will not be research projects, but rather innovative strategies to make significant national improvements in the quality of dementia care by applying the best national and international evidence on what can and should be done.

In most cases, projects will be led by Dementia Australia state and territory organisations in collaboration with their members, service providers and government and research partners.

Members of the Consumer Dementia Research Network will meet in early September to discuss their ideas about what areas of dementia care most need to be addressed.  They will also work  with researchers, service providers and Dementia Australia representatives to determine which areas of dementia care have ‘evidence-practice gaps’, and which of these will be priorities for project funding.

A consumer voice in dementia research

The value of consumer input in health research has been increasingly acknowledged by various organisations and funding bodies in Australia and overseas.  Consumer involvement may lead to research that has greater relevance, has better outcomes and is more likely to be put into practice.

Dementia Australia is committed to meaningful consumer engagement in all steps of the research and knowledge translation process.  In 2010 Dementia Australia, in partnership with the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres, formed the Consumer Dementia Research Network. The aim of this national network is to support individuals with dementia and their family carers and friends in having an active role in informing the research process and contributing to better care practice and outcomes.

Twenty-three individuals were chosen for the consumer network based on their background and experience.  The group is made up of individuals from every state and territory and includes individuals from various backgrounds including culturally and linguistically diverse, Indigenous, regional/remote, gay and lesbian, and individuals with younger onset dementia. The majority of the participants in the group have not been involved in consumer advocacy in the past.  They have a wide range of both personal and professional experience with dementia, research and aged care.

The Consumer Dementia Research Network will play a key role in all stages of the projects funded through the National Quality Dementia Care Network, from priority setting to implementation, monitoring and evaluation.  They will also be involved in providing consumer input to research that is conducted through the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres.

The Consumer Dementia Research Network is possible through support from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre – Carers and Consumers as part of the Australian Government’s Dementia Initiative. Dementia Australia would also like to thank the ANZ Wicking Trust and Bupa Care Services Australia for providing financial support for this important initiative

For more information on the Initiative, please contact Dr. Ellen Skladzien (Manager of the Consumer Dementia Research Network) at Ellen.Skladzien@dementia.org.au, or Dr Chris Hatherly (Project Manager of the Quality Dementia Care Network) at Chris.Hatherly@dementia.org.au.

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