Dementia Pathways Tool
The Dementia Pathways Tool is a publically-accessible resource which provides primary health care professionals with access to a web-based repository containing information, tools and resources to guide and enhance current assessment and referral practices for patients with dementia. Initially established for the Grampians region, and subsequently the south east Melbourne region, the Dementia Pathways Tool is also available to primary health care professionals outside these regions.
Dementia is one of the fastest growing diseases in Australia, with prevalence rates expected to rise steadily over coming years. At the forefront of dementia care is the primary health care workforce providing essential support across the disease continuum, from early diagnosis to ongoing management. However, this disease is complex and often places significant demand on primary health care workers.
An initiative in the Grampians region is addressing some of these challenges through the development of an intuitive online Dementia Pathways Tool, launched in 2013, designed to optimise access to information about dementia for primary health care professionals.
The Dementia Pathways Tool provides a comprehensive yet intuitive web-based repository of dementia-related information, tools, service directories and resources which is publically available. This enables community access to information about dementia that may be of relevance, including family and carer support, financial and legal issues, driving capabilities and powers of attorney.
The technical and online components of the Dementia Pathways Tool were designed by CeRDI in close collaboration with project partners the Department of Health (Grampians region) and Grampians Medicare Local, with the content informed by Associate Professor Mark Yates from the Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service (CDAMS), Ballarat Health Services, and Deakin University.
As a publically-accessible resource, the Dementia Pathways Tool provides primary health care professionals with access to a web-based repository containing information, tools and resources to guide and enhance current assessment and referral practices for patients with dementia. The website may also be accessed by those individuals who have been diagnosed with dementia and their carers.
For primary health care professionals within the Grampians region and South Eastern Melbourne region, information is also provided about local services and resources.
This project has led to the development of a comprehensive online resource of information about dementia, designed for, and with substantial input from primary health care professionals.
CeRDI has collaborated with South East Melbourne Medicare Local to prepare a version of the Dementia Pathways Tool for its region. Launched in early 2015, this Dementia Pathways Tool enhances and extends similar services established in 2013 for health practitioners in the Grampians region. To support this extension CeRDI redeveloped the Dementia Pathways Tool so it could comprise core dementia content as well as content contextualised to local regions.
Both Tools were guided in their development by the Dementia Pathways Working group comprising representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (Grampians) and Grampians Medicare Local. Advisory groups from the South Eastern Melbourne Medicare Local including the Aged Care Advisory Group contributed to the development of the South Eastern Melbourne Dementia Pathways Tool.
The content for the Dementia Pathways Tool was undertaken by Ms Carolyn Gargiulo, Grampians Region Department of Health and Human Services, as the lead organisation, in collaboration with Associate Professor Mark Yates.
Research, led jointly by CeRDI and project partners has confirmed positive feedback from general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses in the Grampians region.
A central online portal has been established to enable access to Dementia Pathways Tools.
A short video with Associate Professor Mark Yates has also been developed to introduce Dementia Pathways Tool to GPs and practice nurses.
Key features of the Dementia Pathways Tool include a split-screen with toggle menu for navigation. Access to relevant information occurs via five key menu options:
- Awareness and recognition of significant symptoms;
- Ongoing management and care;
- Palliative and end-of-life care; and
- Family support.
Menu items (located on the left of the split screen) are accessed through a pathways ‘tree’ with branches to secondary menu. Navigating the site is facilitated by the pathway with menu items providing a logical guide.
The Tool includes a comprehensive keyword search with expandable information layers offering a greater number of searchable options to source and retrieve content. The website is complemented by an interactive pathways map; a support tool and local service directory with referral pathways.
Other features of the website include links to resources and websites; assessment tools for GPs; and an extensive resource pages (Source: Ollerenshaw, 2015).
Updates are currently planned which offer practitioners and the community additional information and resources via the Dementia Pathways Tool. Associate Professor Mark Yates secured funding for this project from Lundbeck, a Danish international pharmaceutical company engaged in the research and development, production, marketing and sale of drugs used in the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system.
Ollerenshaw, A. (2015). Online pathways for dementia care. Australian Family Physician, 44 (7), 510-513. Australian Family Physician | Online pathways for dementia care
Ollerenshaw, A., Wong Shee, A., Yates, M. Towards good dementia care: An Online Dementia Pathways Tool for rural and regional primary health practitioners. Paper under review.
Project funder and lead agency working in collaboration with Medicare Local Grampians and Associate Professor Mark Yates to develop the pathways tool.
Current project partner, hosting the Dementia Pathways Tool in Western Victoria.
Grampians Medicare Local
Project partner contributing broadly to the development of the pathways tool for the Grampians region.
Associate Prof Mark Yates, Deakin University and Ballarat Health Services
project collaborator, providing support and advice pertaining to the development, and subsequent promotion of the Pathways Tool, and facilitating access to content and publications.
Current project partner, hosting the Dementia Pathways Tool for South Eastern Melbourne.