The Dementia Care in Hospitals Program (DCHP) aims to improve the care of patients with cognitive impairment within the acute hospital setting. The program, led by Associate Professor Mark Yates, was first introduced at Ballarat Health Services (BHS) in 2003.
Cognitive impairment includes a range of thinking and memory difficulties, and is often unrecognised despite affecting up to one-third of hospital patients. This leads to higher rates of adverse outcomes.
The DCHP promotes practice change through education that aims to improve the awareness of cognitive impairment and promote communication with patients with this condition. Associated education resources promote an all-of-hospital approach, with tailored education for both clinical and non-clinical staff to improve the support, communication and care of patients with cognitive impairment.
Recently, the DCHP was expanded into a national project with 29 hospitals in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Western Australia implementing the program. As part of the national rollout, an electronic education program has been developed by FedUni through CeRDI and the Faculty of Health (Prof Britt Klein) in collaboration with BHS, to improve the accessibility and sustainability of the program into the future.
The DCHP online education program was developed in the Moodle learning management system with capabilities to track and monitor which staff have completed the training program. The appearance and layout of the online education program is relatively unique – having been customised by the CeRDI technical team to ensure its appearance and functionality would support clinical and other hospital staff in easily working through the online program. The training modules incorporate text, audio and video content interspersed with interactive content and activities including multiple choice quizzes. The DCHP e-learning module has recently been reviewed by staff at BHS and will soon be introduced in four hospitals across Australia to pilot the new mode of delivery.
Ongoing research is being conducted by BHS to measure the knowledge, culture and practice changes associated with the introduction of the DCHP e-learning module. Most importantly, the research will examine patient outcomes. It is anticipated that the DCHP e-learning module will improve the care and outcomes for patients with cognitive impairment now and into the future.