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Let’s CHAT about Dementia

4 Apr 2022

The Let’s CHAT Dementia research project is set to drive research-informed best practice dementia care for Indigenous Australians living in rural and remote areas. Dallas McKeown, who is a member of the Indigenous Reference Group, discusses the project’s progress.

6 Dallas Mc Keown

Twelve Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty Con­trolled Health Ser­vices (ACCHSs) from region­al and remote Vic­to­ria, New South Wales, North Queens­land and West­ern Aus­tralia are cur­rent­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Let’s CHAT (Com­mu­ni­ty Health Approach­es To) Demen­tia in Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander Com­mu­ni­ties project, con­duct­ed by The Uni­ver­si­ty of Melbourne.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive project aspires to improve the detec­tion of cog­ni­tive impair­ment and demen­tia, the qual­i­ty of demen­tia care in the pri­ma­ry care con­text, and the qual­i­ty of life of old­er peo­ple and their fam­i­lies, by co-design­ing a cul­tur­al­ly respon­sive best prac­tice mod­el and rolling it out in the health ser­vices of the project’s ACCHS partners.

Dal­las McK­e­own, Direc­tor of First Peo­ples’ Strate­gies at CRANAplus, is a mem­ber of the research team and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Indige­nous Ref­er­ence Group, which advis­es on data col­lec­tion activ­i­ties, resource devel­op­ment and the imple­men­ta­tion of the best-prac­tice mod­el of care. She has been pro­vid­ing advice and input into the project and has pro­vid­ed pre­sen­ta­tions to ACCHS staff and oth­er stake­hold­ers regard­ing cul­tur­al deter­mi­nants of healthy ageing.


Let’s CHAT staff and par­tic­i­pants in Mount Isa, left to right: Dr Yvonne Turn­er; Rebec­ca Casey and Dell Bur­gen (Injil­in­ji Aged Care); Dr Eddy Strivens; Lin­da Muller (Blue­care); Rachel Quigley (JCU); and Dal­las McKeown.

Gidgee Heal­ing in Mount Isa, north-west Queens­land, is a project par­tic­i­pant and in late Novem­ber the Cairns-based team lead by Dr Eddy Strivens, a Chief Inves­ti­ga­tor of the research project, under­took a range of project activ­i­ties including:

  • Six-month­ly audits of 150 client files to iden­ti­fy cur­rent prac­tice regard­ing assess­ment, detec­tion, and man­age­ment of cog­ni­tive impair­ment, demen­tia and demen­tia risk.
  • Com­pre­hen­sive Geri­atric Assess­ments (CGA) of clients iden­ti­fied through the audit process as hav­ing cognitive/​memory con­cerns. These patients will then be reviewed every six months through the life of the project. For each client, two con­trols matched on age and gen­der, are also assessed.
  • GP work­shops and staff workshops.

CRANAplus con­tin­ues to sup­port the research project and envis­ages that it will have an impact on pol­i­cy devel­op­ment and pro­gram imple­men­ta­tion in rur­al and remote areas in the forth­com­ing years.

More infor­ma­tion about the project can be found here.