‘The D Word’: Allied Health led dementia professional development

Miss Jacqueline Kay1, Miss Laura Ferguson1, Ms Patricia Maggs1

1The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia


Aim: To identify if providing Allied Health led interdisciplinary education in dementia care is feasible, leads to an increase in confidence, and whether there is a need for further education.

Method: There was a gap identified in the knowledge and education available in the dementia space specific to Allied Health. In its second year of production, 120 allied health and nursing professionals attended a one-day program with presentations from: Medical, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Neuropsychology and Dietitics. Each discipline addressed specific, advertised objectives.

Results: Of the 120 attendees, 100 (83%) responded to the post-program survey. The average attendee was an Allied Health practitioner with 1 year of experience, working in the acute setting.

The following was found:

–              89% felt the objectives were met

–              88.5% identified presentations as very good/excellent

–              78% rated increased confidence with the treatment of dementia

–              77% identified they would like further education in their specific field of work.

–              85% would recommend the course to their colleagues

–              Only 19% rated the nursing presentation as excellent

The following topics were identified as requiring further exploration; palliative care, de-escalating aggressive behaviour, education of families and the carer experience.

Significance of the findings to Allied Health: Providing Allied Health led education with medical and nursing colleagues is feasible. Additional education leads to increased confidence when treating dementia and there is a conclusive need for further education in this space.


Jacqui is a senior clinician Physiotherapist in General Medicine. Jacqui has over 10 years experience in Australia and the UK, with a Masters of Health Services Management. Her passions include best-practice Physiotherapy care for patients with dementia, delirium and in palliative care.