Dementia Australia's Post-Diagnostic Support Program Increasing Early Access to Support

2 years ago
innovAGEING > Case Studies > Dementia Australia’s Post-Diagnostic Support Program Increasing Early Access to Support

There are around half a million Australians living with dementia, and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care.

People impacted by dementia say that accessing support services early improves their understanding of dementia, their relationships and planning for the future, which is why Dementia Australia is focusing on significantly reducing the time it takes to diagnose dementia and increasing the number of people accessing support.

Post-Diagnostic Support (PDS) Program

The Post-Diagnostic Support (PDS) Program provides support for people who have recently been diagnosed with dementia, as well as their families and carers.

Participants can take part in up to six one-on-one sessions delivered by a Dementia Support Specialist or Counsellor via phone, videoconference or face-to-face, over a period of six months or up to 12 months if preferred. Often the carer and person living with dementia participate in the program together.

The PDS Program is a new service delivery model for Dementia Australia funded under the Australian Federal Government’s National Dementia Support Program.

Personalised support

In the first two sessions, the participant is introduced to the program and gets to know their Dementia Support Specialist. During this time, the Dementia Support Specialist gains an understanding of the participant’s existing supports and networks and supports them with setting goals as part of an Individualised Support Plan.

The remaining sessions focus on understanding dementia and the management of symptoms; understanding mainstream supports and planning support for future care and services; future planning and implementing the Individualised Support Plan and strategies to stay connected to the community and exiting the PDS Program.

The flexibility built into the design of the program is key to ensuring it is best able to meet the needs of people living with dementia and their carers, as everyone’s experience of dementia is different and their situation can change rapidly. People are also at different stages in their diagnosis and of readiness when they engage with the program, so their needs and goals will vary.

Positive feedback

Evaluation of the PDS Program found that clients see the tailoring and flexibility of the program as key to meeting their needs – this allowed them to take the time they needed to digest information, work on particular goals or participate in other programs.

Clients particularly like that staff are compassionate and knowledgeable and that they have consistent support and continuity of care from the same staff member. They also feel the support, information and advice provided is helpful and reliable.

Recognised by industry

Dementia Australia was as a finalist in the Enhancing Consumer Experience award in the 2021 innovAGEING National Awards.