Aged Care

Free online course equips volunteers to care for dementia patients

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As more Australians step up to volunteer their time, a new opportunity has emerged to make a real difference in the lives of those living with dementia.

A recent spike in volunteering rates, with nearly 9 million Aussies now giving their time each year, has inspired Dementia Training Australia to launch a free online course aimed at equipping volunteers with the skills to support this vulnerable population.

The Dementia Care Training for Volunteers program teaches everyday people how to effectively communicate, manage behaviour and assist with daily tasks for individuals with dementia. With dementia cases projected to reach 800,000 in Australia by 2058, the need for compassionate care and companionship is greater than ever.

This course empowers volunteers with the knowledge and skills to provide compassionate, personalised support, rewarding the experience for both volunteers and those they assist,” said Dementia Training Australia Executive Director Dr Isabelle Meyer.

Developed by leading dementia experts, the course is tailored for volunteers in various settings, including residential aged care facilities, home care and community assistance.

The four-hour online training covers a range of essential topics, from understanding dementia and delirium to navigating the unique challenges these conditions present. Upon completion, volunteers will have the skills to become a friendly, attentive presence able to alleviate loneliness and boredom.

Catherine Bateman, who worked on the course’s development, highlights how impactful these social connections can be. “Many people with dementia in aged care often feel lonely or bored, so having someone who’s a regular visitor can alleviate both those things and give the resident a greater quality of life,” she says.

We see the volunteer role to be similar to that of a family carer, performing many of the same tasks. Building this connection is incredibly rewarding for the volunteer and the resident with dementia, who eagerly anticipates these visits and the time spent together.”

The beauty of the program lies in its broad reach and accessibility. Whether you’re a student, accountant, retiree or anyone in between, spending quality time with those living with dementia is now easier than ever thanks to this free, comprehensive training.

So if you’re looking for a rewarding way to get involved and give back, becoming a dementia care volunteer could be your next fulfilling role. As Dr Meyer explains, “The course is free and takes four hours to complete, helping volunteers have more meaningful conversations, interactions, and confidence when spending time with people living with dementia.

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