IN FOCUS: Dementia support for all

Anneli and Peter Rickards with district nurse Kerryn Cassidy. (Photo Joe Mastroianni)

By Carole Levy

For a person living with dementia, it’s easy to be the subject of discrimination, even if not intended. Chief executive Belinda Scott says Djerriwarrh Health Services has a vital interest in helping people affected by dementia, strongly supporting this year’s Dementia Action Week theme: ‘Dementia doesn’t discriminate. Do you?’.

According to an article from Dementia Australia, discrimination can happen in a number of ways.

• People with dementia may be ignored or dismissed from conversations.

• Sometimes, without even being conscious of it, a carer may be addressed rather than the person living with dementia – as if they are not there.

• Often assumptions are made about the capacity to contribute towards conversations, and to make their own decisions.

• They may start to be excluded from social occasions with family and friends – not deliberately but possibly out of not knowing how to include them.

Djerriwarrh Health Services has a specialised Dementia Support Nurse in the Community Nursing team. Belinda says the nurse visits clients in their own homes.

“Holistic assessments, and information, support and education for both dementia clients and carers is provided during visits,” she explains. “If necessary, the nurse may also refer clients to other health professionals.

“This positive, proactive approach to living with dementia will help clients to live as long as possible in their own homes.”

Djerriwarrh Health Services Dementia Support team also hosts “Coffee and Conversation”, a monthly gathering to provide support to carers and those with a diagnosis of dementia, and a valuable chance to talk with others on the same journey.

Held from 10.30am-12.30pm on the second Monday each month (excluding public holidays) at Darley Neighbourhood House in Jonathan Drive, Coffee and Conversation welcomes new visitors. Attendees at the Coffee and Conversations might hear from guest speakers, may hear about others stories or just have a chance to have a chat with others who are facing similar challenges living with dementia. Djerriwarrh Health and Moorabool Shire Council have established a Dementia Alliance which aims to improve dementia awareness within the Bacchus Marsh community, reduce associated stigma, and develop a dementia-friendly community.

The concept of a dementia-friendly community is one that enables those with dementia to find their way around and be safe; have access to local facilities that they are used to attending; and where they are known and assisted to maintain social networks. The Bacchus Marsh Dementia Alliance is supported by Dementia Australia. For further information, call the Community Nursing team on 5367 9676.


Djerriwarrh Health Services, 29-35 Grant Street, Bacchus Marsh. Inquiries: 5367 2000 or