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DTA ‘national peak body’ for workforce dementia training

In a short space of time, Dementia Training Australia (DTA) has established itself as the credible ‘go to’ provider for quality education and professional development for the health professional and carer workforce who are supporting people living with dementia, according to DTA’s new Executive Director Professor Belinda Goodenough.

“Funded by the Australian Government (Department of Health) since its launch in 2016, DTA* has succeeded in providing a national approach to addressing training needs across rural and metropolitan regions around the country”, said Professor Goodenough, who has taken the reins from Professor Richard Fleming who retired as DTA Executive Director at the end of June. She has been with DTA since its establishment in 2016, in the role of Knowledge Translation Manager.

Providing a range of face-to-face training opportunities nationally has been an important core aspect to the work of DTA responding to the continued strong demand for this training. In addition, Professor Goodenough said one of DTA’s key achievements has been the launch of an online training portal, offering a broad range of resources and courses – all accessible with free membership. The design and build of the portal was led by DTA Information Systems Manager, Michael Moriarty, and in the first two years of operation it has delivered nearly 20,000 occasions of training.

A meeting of minds in Sydney (from left) Professor Elizabeth Beattie (QUT), Dr Andrew Stafford (UWA), Professor Belinda Goodenough (UOW), Robyn Bilston (DOH), Jennifer Lindon (DOH), Dr Margaret Winbolt (LTU) and Dr David Sykes (DA). Photo: Michelle Rankin, DTA

The widespread use of mobile devices amongst the dementia care workforce has proven to be a key facilitator of DTA’s success. “We have seen exciting growth in the numbers of people accessing DTA courses and resources using a mobile device,” said Mr Moriarty. “This has shaped the DTA priority to provide practical materials for a time-poor ‘learn while you earn’ workforce.”

A ‘team of teams’

When asked about other secrets behind DTA’s success, Professor Goodenough said, “I see DTA as a team of teams. Supporting people with dementia to live the best life possible takes a team approach. In the same way, effective workforce training needs to bring together a range of diverse and expert teams.”

“DTA develops training content with a collaboration of clinical experts who know the latest evidence in medication management, environmental design, and speciality areas like pain, sleep, and behavioural support,” she said.

One of the key teams for DTA is based in the Department of Health’s (DOH) Dementia and Diversity Programs Section. “Working with our colleagues in the policy space is crucial to establishing priority directions to meet workforce training needs,” said Professor Goodenough.

In her first week in the role of Executive Director, Professor Goodenough brought together senior representatives from the DOH’s Dementia and Diversity Programs Section, and the DTA Executive Group, representing DTA’s clinical, education, and policy portfolios (see photo). DTA Director Dr Andrew Stafford (University of Western Australia) demonstrated how virtual reality technology can help learners understand the world for the person with dementia, including some of the experience of being given psychotropic medication. Director Dr Margaret Winbolt (La Trobe University) spoke about how DTA was responding to the needs of a time-poor workforce, including busy professionals like GPs. Director Dr David Sykes (Dementia Australia) talked about a new online format for the popular Dementia Essentials course, scheduled for roll out in 2019. Strategies for providing more face-to-face training, and how to support staff in rural areas, were presented by DTA Director Professor Elizabeth Beattie (Queensland University of Technology). Together, the teams discussed a new knowledge-to-action pathway for workforce training.

“DTA has benefited from excellent foundation work from our retiring directors, Professor Andrew Robinson (UTAS) and Professor Richard Fleming (UOW, Executive Director 2016-19),” said Professor Goodenough. “As the peak body for dementia training, we are working with the Australian Government to support a workforce experiencing a lot of change and challenges – I encourage teams interested in providing optimal quality care and support to people living with dementia to join us on the journey.”

To learn more about how DTA can support you and your team with funded educational resources, visit dta.com.au


*Dementia Training Australia is a consortium of four universities (University of Wollongong – Consortium Lead, Queensland University of Technology, University of Western Australia, La Trobe University) and the peak body Dementia Australia. In developing evidence-based training content, DTA works with key partners including the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre (University of Tasmania) and the Dementia Centres for Research Collaboration.

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