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Living at Home with Dementia - A Q&A With Daryl Carson, Home Care Coordinator at St Louis

In this Q&A, we interviewed Daryl Carson, who has been in aged care for 15 years and is a Home Care Coordinator with St Louis. Daryl is a passionate advocate of creating dementia friendly communities and recently attended Dementia Australia’s Small Actions Big Difference event with other St Louis staff. We asked Daryl to share his knowledge about caring for people living at home with dementia to help improve their quality of life, and what resources are available to support the carers themselves.

How did St Louis become a leading organisation in providing dementia care at home?

“St Louis has been in aged care for over 70 years and has fostered dementia awareness in our organisation throughout this time. We have developed a dementia-aware approach to our care both in our nursing home as well as in the way we deliver our home care services.

When staff join the St Louis team, they are provided with dementia specific training. We address the aspects of care related to people with dementia and ensure our staff are well trained and able to work effectively with these clients in the community.

Our staff have undertaken training through MOOC which we also recommend to anyone who wants to learn about dementia - whether you are professional, a family member or a friend.

We use technology such as CareApp which provides quick time information back to our carers to let them know how our clients are managing at home. Using CareApp allows us to respond with a faster turnaround to the needs of our clients. We want them to feel safe and cared for at home even when we are not there.”

What percentage of people who have dementia live at home? Is this changing?

“Dementia as an issue in our community is increasing so it is important for people to feel they can stay at home without the need to enter residential care unless they get to a point where they need 24x7 care. We don’t know the percentage of people that live at home with dementia, but we do know it is increasing substantially.

Dementia as an incidence is expected to increase by 20% over the next ten years in people over 65 years unless a medical breakthrough is found.

Dementia Australia are doing a great job in providing resources to help create dementia friendly communities and to offer advice on how to better manage at home with some support.

Getting home care support when you have dementia means you can still live a quality and meaningful life, at home knowing that help is only phone call away.”

What resources are available for people living at home with dementia?

“There are a lot of resources available today to help people with dementia, their family and friends to manage this issue.

  1. Dementia Australia have an office in Glenside and run events regularly about dealing better with dementia in the community. They will also connect you with other resources and health professionals in the community.

Dementia Link care-workers will come to your home and meet with your family and provide advice on managing in the home.

Connexus is a program that supports younger onset dementia clients, from their 30’s to early 60’s. It provides connection and social activities for these people.

Day respite cottages provide the carers with respite for the day or overnight, you can apply with My Aged Care and make use of this service to help you as a carer. “

What advice do you offer family and friends of people with dementia?

“I recommend to all our families to seek out information about dementia and how to manage it better. Speak with Dementia Australia and get a better understanding on dementia care and what are going to be some of the road blocks, how to work around them so that frustration is kept at bay, and so that the person with dementia can continue to live a good life

Also, you are not alone and there are a lot of people caring for loved ones with dementia who can connect you with other people experiencing the same.

I have seen several friendships formed between people who are doing their best to understand how to help a loved one still live a quality and meaningful life with dementia.

Don’t hide the condition, otherwise you will struggle on and get burnt out easily. Some people don’t want to burden their family and try and solve all the problems themselves but this is not good for their wellbeing. When we talk about carers, this applies to professionals as well as family, friends and neighbours.

Get help – there are plenty of resources. Your local GP is also a good source of information about dementia support.

Have a look at our blog on Dementia Care – A Caregiver’s 10 Commandments

How can we all contribute to a more dementia friendly community?

“We can help spread the word when talking to family members and carers so that if they know someone else who is undergoing this then they can help.

Promote Wellness not Illness – people with dementia can have a fulfilling life, don’t take away from their life because this will happen naturally anyway, so change to accommodate their needs – interact with groups set up to provide help and support.

Home care packages will open up all sorts of avenues for you – art therapy, social events, exercise, help at home.”

Call St Louis Home Care Adelaide on 8332 0950 or St Louis Home Care Victor Harbor on 8552 1481 for more information about home care packages that support a loved one living at home with dementia. We are here to help