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The Spark of Life Approach from Dementia Care Australia

A Spark Of Life is igniting Rockhampton Aged Care which has two high care facilities. North Rockhampton Aged Care facility is a 100 bed facility with a 40 bed specific dementia unit and Eventide Home is an 80 bed facility with a 30 bed specific dementia unit. Rockhampton Aged Care is under the umbrella of the Central Queensland Health District. Due to their role and admission policies these facilities admit residents that have complex behavioural issues. The impact of this admission policy has in the past resulted in higher rates in indicators such as aggression, falls and clinical outcomes such as skin tears. In 2005 when the government provided the $1000 per bed subsidy for training purposes it was decided to use this money to influence the culture of the organisation and support staff with new ways of dealing with behavioural issues and outcomes. Dementia Care Australia was approached and Jane Verity was contracted to develop a training program based on the Spark of Life approach for the Rockhampton aged care facilities.

Spark of Life

The Spark of Life is a systematic approach that focuses on igniting the human spirit and meeting the emotional needs of people with dementia. A facility that has a Spark of Life Culture is flexible, loving, nurturing, and stimulating, which enables everyone to grow. It is a place where people with dementia, their relatives, and staff experience appreciation, purpose, and pride.

Dementia Care Australia has developed this approach under the guidance and direction of Jane Verity, a leading authority on dementia care.

Easy to read ID badges so that residents are not confused and bright, bright colours.

What is it?

The Spark of Life Approach is a natural partner to the Eden Alternative and Person Centred Care and works in perfect harmony with their principles and styles of application. The Spark of Life Approach fills a gap in these life models of care by working at a detailed, personal level to reach the emotional core to renew the spark and enable people with dementia, and their carers, to thrive.

What are the results?

Once implemented, improvements in memory, language, communication, social interactions and behaviour all become possible. The Spark of Life Approach is not a cure, but a reliable process for creating an environment in which the human spirit can thrive. The approach nurtures the wellbeing of the human spirit through a gentle, practical and common sense approach to human relationships and communication.

The Torchbearer's Group - staff committed to embedding the Spark of Life Culture.

How does it work?

Spark of Life works by focusing on effectively meeting the emotional needs of people with dementia - to feel appreciated, joyful, loved, and involved. Happier people are easier to care for and the carer's satisfaction and motivation increases.

The aim of the program in year 1 was to get 70% of the staff through the initial training exercise. In year 2 the focus was to train a smaller group of staff to be "torch bearers" and to implement the "spark of life approach" where all staff would be engaged in a problem solving approach to meet the unmet needs of each and every resident.

The system introduces a range of strategies but one that the staff instinctively embraced was the introduction of brightness and colours to enhance sensory stimuli. Staff members were encouraged to wear bright coloured clothes and this in itself made some staff happier. The standard "health issue" colour schemes were discarded in favour of brighter and less conservative decor.

But the key component involves resident / staff interaction and the following example helps to explain the approach.

Sunshine Clubs have been introduced for residents of similar interaction needs. There are routine activities to engage the residents and to maintain a positive culture of interaction. Whist not all staff instinctively embraced these activities the culture of interaction has gradually improved. The Clubs enable like residents to operate on an equal level and they provide a "safe haven where people with dementia can experience success in everything they say and do............which boosts confidence and enhances their ability to communicate.

North Rockhampton

The reporting of aggressive episodes indicates a reduction in aggressive episodes since the training and implementation of the Spark of Life Approach commenced.

Aggressive Episodes - General

Aggressive Episodes - Specific Dementia Unit

Eventide Home Rockhampton

Similar work is being undertaken at Eventide Home Rockhampton. Eventide has 80 beds in total with a 30 specific dementia unit that has a number of psycho-geriatric residents.

The reporting of aggressive episodes has reduced and remains low since the commencement of the training.

Along with a reduction in aggressive episodes the facility has also enjoyed reduced falls and skin tear rates.

Due to a role in providing psycho-geriatric care the rate of aggressive episodes at Eventide Home was traditionally very high. In recent times the level of reported aggressive episodes has reduced to around the industry average.

Please go to www.dementiacareaustralia.com for further information on the Spark of Life program.