Lobby: make dementia training compulsory

National Seniors says better training would help stem abuse in aged care

Aged Care Royal Commission
Professor John McCallum.

Professor John McCallum.


Lobby group says abuse will continue unless staff receive appropriate dementia training.


THE care provided to dementia patients in aged care is set to figure prominently during the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, if day one of the public hearings is anything to go by.

National Seniors Australia chief executive John McCallum used his appearance at the commission to call for compulsory dementia training for aged care workers.

Professor McCallum expressed surprise that such training was not already mandatory, given the prevalence of dementia and the availability of dementia training courses.

He said targeted training would prevent much abuse because workers would understand how dementia affects people’s behaviour and provide them with the skills to provide appropriate care. It would also improve the experiences of those in care who were “not handled badly, but inexpertly”.

“We’ve seen some dreadful examples of older and frail aged care residents with dementia being physically abused by care workers who clearly have no idea how to respond to what they believe is ‘bad behaviour’,” Professor McCallum said.

“We have the means to prevent this happening, and to make life much better for care recipients and care givers. So it’s high time to make this training compulsory.”

Professor McCallum said a report from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency last August showed 97 per cent of survey respondents felt staff treated them with respect all or most of the time; 84 per cent liked the food; and 98 per cent felt safe most or all of the time.

However, National Seniors research and submissions to the royal commission show many older people and their families fear retribution if they complain about services, and highlight poor treatment from staff, insufficient staffing and poor food.