Caregiving and dementia/Projects/Curriculum penetration and career pathway development: The scaffolding project
This project sought to embed dementia training within tertiary health training. The project was designed to gradually raise awareness in the minds of a wide range of tertiary education staff and students of the opportunity to contribute to the care of people with dementia.
In 2010-2013, the University of Wollongong (UoW), University of Canberra (UC) and University of Tasmania (UTas) Faculties of Health and Behavioural Sciences collaborated on a three-stage project aimed at introducing the care of people with dementia into the awareness of tertiary education staff and students. This involved:
- Essay prizes to, predominantly, second year undergraduates across the health and behavioural sciences (13 prizes were awarded - UoW (3), UC (8), UTas (5)). The prizes attracted the attention of a large number of students and gave rise to some high quality thinking about the needs of people with dementia. Many of the essays are openly available - see essays.
- Placements in aged care services for 3rd year students - Clinical Placements in dementia services were incorporated into the standard 5th year curriculum of the psychology degree in UoW for the first time in 2011 (14), and 2nd year curriculum of the psychology degree at University of Canberra in 2012 (15). Awareness is built on in when clinical placement opportunities are offered in collaboration with industry partners. Research has shown that a successful placement is a very important step in helping students decide on their career path.
- Scholarships to encourage Honours students to engage in dementia related research - awarded to six UC psychology students (2011-2013). The provision of Honours scholarships to assist with research projects directly related to the care of people with dementia, will hopefully encourage students to maintain a link with a dementia-related career path.
Overall, the project brought the care of people with dementia to the attention of several hundred students and provided new opportunities for engaging in this field.
The engagement of staff in this process is anticipated to lead on to the development of courses that include dementia related studies. Dementia was not included, or only peripherally included, in the UoW and UC curricula before the introduction of this approach. There is a clear need to introduce dementia related topics and activities into curricula so that a clear, dementia related career pathway becomes visible to students as they progress through their courses.