Today, Cabrini Health, in partnership with Dementia Australia, launched one of Australia’s first purpose-designed dementia-friendly rehabilitation environments at Brighton.
Research shows that people with dementia are at an increased risk of experiencing other medical issues when compared to those without dementia. As a result, many people with dementia are required to undergo inpatient rehabilitation, such as post-surgical recovery or reconditioning following an acute illness.
To address these issues, Cabrini Health and Dementia Australia, with support from a grant from the Grenet Foundation, have undertaken a joint project to improve the hospital experience for people with dementia during their rehabilitation in an inpatient setting.
The partnership recognises the difficulties people living with a cognitive impairment, face in the hospital environment.
Cabrini Health Chief Executive Dr Michael Walsh said the partnership was designed to improve outcomes for patients with dementia who were admitted to Cabrini.
“At Cabrini, approximately 30 per cent of our patients have dementia,” Dr Walsh said.
“In general, it is estimated that in the future, one in every four people with dementia will require hospital services each year.
“Unfortunately, our research shows that people with dementia experience worse clinical outcomes as inpatients in hospital environments, including longer stays in hospital, a higher likelihood of re-admission and higher mortality rates than those without dementia.
“This project aims to improve those outcomes by making changes to the physical environment of the inpatient ward to make it more dementia-friendly. These changes include a range of measures, such as changes to the colour scheme to differentiate particular areas of the hospital, improved signage and accessibility and upgrades to hospital systems.
“Staff will also receive training to assist in improving patient care.
"We hope and anticipate this important project will improve the experience and outcomes of people with dementia undergoing rehabilitation in an inpatient ward and reduce the risk of adverse events occurring.”
Dementia Australia Executive Director Business Development and Victorian Regional Director Leanne Emerson said the partnership was an extension of Dementia Friends, which aimed to improve settings for people with dementia.
“A dementia-friendly community is one where all organisations, services and the broader community support people living with dementia to live a high-quality life, with meaning, purpose and value,” Ms Emerson said.
“In a healthcare environment, this initiative applies best-practice wisdom and learnings around dementia care, the environment, staff expertise and clinical approaches.
“We will be providing Cabrini staff with specialist training in dementia care and working with clinical staff to make their rehabilitation service more accessible to people with dementia including outpatient care.
“We are aiming for Cabrini to be a best-practice site for dementia care in rehabilitation so that we can improve the health and lifestyle outcomes for people with dementia, their families and carers.”
Gabrielle Williams, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, and Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers congratulated Cabrini Health and Dementia Australia on the initiative.
“We know how important it is to support people living with dementia in our community, including in our health system. Dementia-friendly hospitals support people with dementia to live well and return home to more independent living.
“Small actions can have a big impact in the lives of people living with dementia as well as their families and carers.”