‘Speaking my Language’ – The way culture talks for and to people with dementia

Multicultural Aged Care Inc. (MAC) in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Australia SA continue to deliver a training programme (funded by the Australian Government and developed in 2011 by WA Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS)) aimed to encourage best practice in the care of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds living with cognitive impairment.

We have just updated the training package and it was delivered on 16 October 2014, with further sessions planned for 26 February and 23 June 2015 at MAC.

During a one day workshop dedicated to exploring the unique topics in multicultural dementia care, ‘Speaking my Language’ aims to encourage best practice in the care of people living with dementia from CALD backgrounds.

The training package also provides the skills and background information helpful while interpreting and responding to changing behaviours, and presents them taking into consideration the cultural needs of people living with dementia.

The workshop is recommended for health professionals (including, but not limited to, doctors, nurses, occupational and diversional therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists and tertiary level students) working with people living with dementia.

The ‘Speaking my Language’ workshop highlights how MAC and Alzheimer’s Australia SA demystify the stigma of being diagnosed with Dementia; describes ways in which clients/residents’ background information (including cultural information) may assist in understanding and addressing behaviours which may not fit the norm; demonstrates how family caregiver/s from CALD backgrounds can impact on care giving and explains attitudes towards services and care. In addition, presenters share some thought provoking anecdotes, gained by considering the cultural needs of a person with cognitive impairment.

By the end of a ‘Speaking my Language’ workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe dementia and discuss prevalence in Australia.
  • Understand the meaning of culture and the influence and implications for dementia care.
  • Identify different forms of communication and the importance of incorporating them into practice.
  • Develop strategies and tools for effective communication in intercultural settings, including the role of formal and information interpreters.
  • Describe ways in which clients/residents’ background information, including cultural information, can assist in addressing behavioural issues.
  • Understand how a family caregiver from a culturally and linguistically diverse background can impact on care giving and attitudes towards services and care.
  • Provide examples of culturally appropriate intervention strategies or techniques.
  • Describe the concept of cultural competence and its key elements when promoting best practice in an organisation.

The workshop has been endorsed by APEC number 017110001 as authorised by Royal College of Nursing, Australia according to approved criteria. Attendance attracts 6 RCNA CNE points as part of RCNA’s Life Long Learning Program (3LP).

Currently, the ‘Speaking my Language’ workshop is facilitated by:

Wendy Hall: a Dementia Educator with Alzheimer’s Australia SA and has been with them for 7 years. Her 20 years of experience has covered a diversity of areas including aged care, acute care and pre-hospital settings. She has a Bachelor of Applied Sc. (Nursing) and Diploma of Applied Sc. (Ambulance Studies). Her current role is in the provision of dementia awareness and skills training through education and information sessions to organisations, businesses and various public forums.

Agnieszka Chudecka: has international experience and expertise in education and training; research, policy and resources development embedded with targeted cultural perspectives and practices. In Australia she has also managed a social support, direct service program for older people from Polish backgrounds. Agnieszka is currently the Business Manager and Training Officer at Multicultural Aged Care Inc.

The ‘Speaking my Language’ training package is held three times a year in South Australia, with the next one due to be held February 2015. For more information, contact Michelle Chaplin at the SA & NT Dementia Training Study Centre (DTSC) on 08 8372 2100.