Award-winning public health academic Dr Lyn Phillipson has dedicated a lot of time to creating "dementia-friendly" towns.
The University of Wollongong academic's latest project helps enhance communication between people with dementia and their care providers.
The Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC) has awarded Professor Phillipson a $50,000 research grant for the project.
Her project focuses on training and studying the use of "Talking Mats" within two aged care providers to promote greater engagement of people with dementia in the active planning of what supports they want from their "consumer directed" care packages.
"I'm excited to receive this grant and about the potential of Talking Mats to enhance communication between people with dementia and their Home Care Package providers," Professor Phillipson said.
Talking Mats, developed by speech and language pathologists at the University of Stirling in Scotland, are a visual tool to aid thinking and provide support for people with communication difficulties to express their views about things that matter to them.
The mats can be physical or digital and use picture symbols to help people communicate. They can have a positive impact on the quality of life of people with dementia.
"I am one of only a few accredited Talking Mats trainers in Australia and this grant allows me to use my role to promote their use to aid care planning and improve care outcomes for people with dementia who receive Home Care to help them stay at home," Prof Phillipson said.
"It can be really challenging for people with dementia to communicate their preferences, especially regarding their care, and Talking Mats provide a way to do this.
"We already have evidence from research that Talking Mats can enhance the ability of people with dementia to communicate - so the challenge now is how we can support Talking Mats to become part of the toolkit used in the everyday practice of home care providers."
Professor Belinda Goodenough, Dr Kate Williams and Dr Louisa Smith (UOW), Dr Craig Sinclair (USNW), and Prof Lee-Fay Low (USyd) are investigators on the research team.
Whiddon, Bluehaven Care and Talking Mats Ltd are also partners in the research project.
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