• On average, 56% of residents at our facilities have a medical diagnosis of dementia (Boerth, 2016).
  • Dementia services are available to all Eldercare residents.
  • 240 of Eldercare’s 975 beds (almost 25%) are within specialised secure Memory Support Units (Boerth, 2011).

Dementia Services

As the Australian population ages, the incidence and prevalence of dementia will increase exponentially. In 2010, Eldercare established the Dementia Excellence Program with the aim of becoming the South Australian Centre of Excellence in Dementia Care.

In order to meet the increasing needs of our residents, we have implemented quality dementia care across all of our residential aged care facilities.

Dementia Excellence Program

The Dementia Excellence Program aims to improve and enhance the wellbeing and quality of life of people living with dementia by transforming the culture of care in our facilities and across our organisation from one that was task-focused to one that is truly person-centred.

Person-centred care involves the promotion of resident choice relating to:

  • individual hygiene routines
  • meal times (especially breakfast)
  • sleep and wake patterns
  • engagement in meaningful activities

There is an emphasis on:

  • improved pain recognition and management
  • understanding that behaviour is a form of communication
  • adequate rest
  • reduction of psychotropic medication use as person-centred strategies are implemented
  • empowering residents and staff
  • wellbeing

The Dementia Excellence Program is integrated across Eldercare and the philosophy of person-centred care underpins all program elements.

Dementia Excellence Program house diagram

Person-centred care philosophy

The Dementia Excellence Program is based on an organisational philosophy of person-centred care; a concept reflected in Eldercare's Purpose and Values. Person-centred care involves "treating each person as an individual; protecting a person's dignity; respecting a person's rights and preferences; and developing a therapeutic relationship between the care provider and the care recipient which is built on mutual trust and understanding". Reference: Australian College of Nursing.

Clinical leadership

Every Eldercare residential aged care facility has Case Management Clinical Leaders who closely coordinate and supervise the care each resident receives. These senior Registered Nurses are also Dementia Excellence Clinical Leaders. They are supported in their role by:

  • the Dementia Excellence Program Manager
  • the Dementia Excellence Program Facilitator
  • the Site Operations Manager
  • a Clinical Nurse Manager
  • our Dementia Care Mapping tool

Integrating resident biographies

Lifestyle teams, in partnership with all staff, capture rich personal histories of residents. These histories assist carers and volunteers to provide individualised and person-centred care, maintain dignity and build positive relationships. The Lifestyle Program is a model founded on the principle of 'doing with rather than doing for'.

The Lifestyle Program:

  • supports resident choice
  • strengthens relationships between staff, volunteers, residents and their families
  • enables meaningful engagement
  • gives residents a sense of purpose and accomplishment

Ongoing family support

Eldercare chaplains at each site provide emotional and spiritual support to residents and their families who are often challenged by the changes associated with the move to residential care and caring for a loved one living with dementia.

Eldercare is committed to providing education and support for families. We conduct family information nights and there are support groups in place at several sites.

Enabling physical environments

New dementia-friendly environments are planned using best practice principles as a guide. Existing environments are altered to best meet the needs of residents living with dementia.

We are constantly upgrading and enhancing all of our sites to accommodate the specific needs of all our residents; particularly those with cognitive difficulties. The majority of Eldercare sites have specialised secure Memory Support Units.

A resident who moves into an Eldercare Memory Support Unit may have a memory box mounted on the wall next to their bedroom door.

Memory box to support residents living with dementiaMemory box outside resident's room - Memory Support Unit, Evanston Park

Best practice education

Following a formal education program for all staff, a collaborative approach has been implemented to integrate best practice dementia care practises into the workplace. Ongoing education is provided for staff, volunteers and families.

Sustained success

Outcomes are measured to ensure the Dementia Excellence Program meets the objectives of improving wellbeing and quality of life for residents. Focus groups meet regularly at each site and include staff, volunteers, residents and families who work together to drive positive change.

More information and support on dementia


Australian College of Nursing 2014. Person-centred Care Position Statement.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. Residential Aged Care in Australia 2007-2008: A statistical overview. Aged care statistic series 28. Cat.No. AGE 58. Canberra. AIHW

Boerth, S. 2016. Diagnosis Report. Dementia. Eldercare, Healthwise Medication Services, South Australia.

Boerth, S. 2011. Audit of the Prescribing of Anti-psychotic Use for the Management of the Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia across 11 Eldercare sites, Healthwise Medication Services, South Australia.