Dementia has been identified as a national health priority in Australia. National programs in the areas of research, education and training have been established. The Dementia Care Skills for Aged Care Workers program is a three-year project that commenced in 2006. It has the goal of providing training in the essentials of dementia care to 17,000 staff of aged care services across Australia. Successful completion of the training results in the award of a nationally recognized qualification. Although the delivery of the training has been difficult in some areas – because of the long distances to be covered by trainers and trainees, a wide range of cultural backgrounds, and difficulties in finding staff to cover for people attending the training – the seven training organizations providing this training are on target to meet the goal. The project is being evaluated independently. The anecdotal reports available to date strongly suggest that the training is being well received and is making a difference to practice.
A surprisingly large proportion of attendees (9%) have been registered nurses, which demonstrates the need among this group of staff for training in the care of people with dementia.