Director, Dementia Doulas International
Wendy Hall has worked in health and aged care for 30 years, she is Director and founder of Dementia Doulas International and author of, Dementia can’t take everything!, The Dementia Doula and Beyond the darkness of dementia. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing, Diploma of Applied Science (Ambulance Studies), Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment & Training and a Certificate IV in Celebrancy. Wendy uses her diverse skill set within a variety of settings including acute care, pre-hospital, community & residential sectors. Her role in the training and mentoring of emerging Dementia Doula’s has been evolving over many years and brings together her areas of passion. Her interactive approach challenges mindsets and encourages those supporting someone or working within the area of dementia to explore a different way of thinking. Her goal is shifting preconceived ideas about existing barriers to dementia care and influence the palliative care space.
A Collaborative Home Based Community Approach to Enabling and Empowering Those Impacted by Dementia.
Dementia Doulas International has partnered with InHome Care SA to develop a new model for better supporting those living with dementia, their families and staff within a home-based environment. The aim was to achieve better outcomes by incorporating a family’s lived experience using improved information gathering tools to develop services suited to a dementia perspective. The partnership was formed in response to a current gap in palliative care practices being put in place from time of diagnosis. Research compares the palliative experience of someone with dementia being inconsistent when compared with other health conditions.
Our project focused on the importance of setting families up for today and the future trajectory of the disease process. We targeted clients in the early stages of dementia which provided the opportunity for them to be involved in decision-making processes and for input into how they wanted their future to unfold. Included in the framework was the introduction of a palliative approach to care earlier and done under the direction of a medical practitioner that came on board with the project.
The Dementia Doula project involved an extensive training program for 10 key clinical/care staff with 6 supporting management level staff as Dementia Doulas. The program content included the development of emotional and behavioural support plans, Montessori approach, mentoring and Dementia Doula training (a non-clinical leadership approach enabling and empowering family members in a more active care role).
Following the training program, staff were better placed in ensuring their clients with dementia had a better quality of life with families feeling supported by incorporating and embedding new concepts everyday practices. We have reframed what it is to live an active, fulfilled and supported life with a palliative approach and plan in place.
A key aspect of the program was supporting staff in their practice and ensuring they felt valued and heard while they made a tangible difference in the lives of their clients.
The longer-term benefits from creating a new leadership opportunity has shown an impact on job satisfaction, a new career pathway and improved staff retention. This model is ensuring a more consistent level of service provision and relationship building opportunity for staff, clients and their families due to the stability in rostering. The program is continuing to gather feedback from participants with dementia, their families and staff to ensure program indicators continue to be met and to identify ongoing areas for improvement.