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Sexualities and Dementia: Improve Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices in Aged Care via interactive live webinars

Dr Cindy Jones, Prof Wendy Moyle, A/Prof Belinda Goodenough
Research Centre DCRC Carers and Consumers
Partner Institution
Project Description

AIM:

The overall aim is to conduct a knowledge translation [KT] effectiveness trial of a NEW webinar intervention for health professionals targeting expression of sexuality by people with dementia. The objectives of the project are to:

  • Evaluate the utility, quality and effectiveness of interactive live webinars to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change practice of care staff towards the expression of sexuality by people with dementia in residential aged care facilities [RACFs].
     
  • Measure sustained change in workplace practices (at 3 months) towards the expression of sexuality by people with dementia in RACFs via increased knowledge and improved attitudes.

BACKGROUND:

There is growing evidence that demonstrates the importance of sex and expression of sexuality to older people. In spite of age and cognitive impairment, older people, including those with dementia, can continue to form new and meaningful relationships and even engage in purposeful sexual behaviours. The ability for expression their of sexuality is a significant component of their physical health and identity; a key attribute to quality of life and well-being; as well as being imperative in maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, positive self-concept and a sense of integrity.

Older people have expressed a desire for opportunities to discuss their sexual concerns. This is echoed by the general consensus amongst of the majority of health professionals that sexual concerns should be addressed as part of holistic care. However, health professionals are reportedly untrained for either a discussion or assessment of sexual health. Furthermore, expression of sexuality by older people in RACFs, particularly those with dementia, can be challenging and confronting for care staff. Recent national and international research highlight the need for education and training of staff in RACFs so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to better respond to the sexual needs and expression of sexuality by older people, particularly those with dementia.

METHODOLOGY:

Direct care staff from Australian government approved and accredited RACFs providing care to older people with dementia will be recruited. The webinar education consists of 6 weekly 1.5 hours interactive live webinars. Participating RACF will be asked to complete an Alberta Context Tool survey online that is an audit to identify KT enablers and barriers within their RACF. A record of participants’ weekly webinar attendance from work or home will be kept. Participants will be assessed pre and post completion of the webinar education by an online survey consisting of

(iv) Demographic questions;

(v) Aging Sexual Knowledge and Attitudes Scale;

(vi) Staff Attitudes about Intimacy and Dementia Survey;

(vii) Dementia Training and Study Centre Knowledge Translation Evaluation Tool; and

(viii) Questions on content, quality, and modality of the program delivery.

In addition, changes in care practice identified by the KT evaluation tool will be explored via individual, semi-structured phone interviews.

SIGNIFICANCE:

If the project demonstrates that interactive live webinars can increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change practice of healthcare professionals towards the expression of sexuality by people with dementia, it implies:

  • Interactive live webinars can be used to address the limitations of traditional face-to-face education and self-directed eLearning methods in knowledge transfer and translation.
     
  • Potential significant improvements in staff’s understanding, attitudes and care practices towards the expression of sexuality by people with dementia to enable the facilitation of a care environment that is supportive of the verbalisation and expression of sexual preference, need and desire by people with dementia. 

 


Successful DCRC grant recipient 2016

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