Dementia Action Week 2023

This week marks National Dementia Action Week, taking place from 18-24 September 2023, including World Alzheimer’s Day on Thursday 21 September. Led by Dementia Australia, this week is about encouraging people to take action to foster more dementia-friendly communities, addressing a lack of knowledge and understanding that may lead to stigma and discrimination towards people living with dementia in the community. Over the course of the year, Occupational Therapy Australia has provided a multitude of submissions to government on issues surrounding aged care and dementia. Read more about these submissions below. 

National Dementia Action Plan – Public Consultation

In January 2023, Occupational Therapy Australia lodged a submission to The Department of Health and Aged Care (the Department) on the new National Dementia Action Plan (NDAP).

OTA highlighted that the current dementia care system is fragmented, with no clear pathways between diagnosis and treatment and no collaboration between services. There is also a lack of rehabilitation services for people with dementia, and support for carers of people with dementia.

OTA acknowledged that the Department is aware of these shortcomings and emphasised the role of OTs working with people with dementia and their carers in enabling them to participate in the activities that are necessary and meaningful to them.

OTA also offered to work with the department in increasing the rehabilitation services for people with Dementia.

Download here

OTA submission to Department of Health – New residential accommodation design standards

In December 2021 OTA provided a submission in response to draft residential accommodation design standards released by the Department of Health for consultation.  OTA took this opportunity to advocate for a variety of best practice designs for residential aged care using the occupational therapy principles of community involvement and independence.

The Australian Government took consultations in the process of drafting a Design Framework for Residential Aged Care. OTA recommended the use of a tiered system that had dementia friendly design as a mandatory minimum, with the platinum standard being co-located design and small housing environments. In this way, the designs that truly connected people to the communities inside and outside the facility would be rewarded.

Other design ideas OTA recommended were those that enable continued engagement in activities of interest, dementia inclusive design, and design that supports diverse cultures and identities.

Download here

In November 2022, OTA were invited to discuss elements of the proposed residential aged care design guidelines further at a meeting with the University of Wollongong and members of the Department. OTA emphasised the need for occupationally engaging and stimulating environments, the need to better integrate technology and equipment into the built environs to better tailor care needs and enable participation, and the role of occupational therapists in supporting this.

Draft standard Psychotropic Medicines in Cognitive Disability or Impairment Clinical Care Standard

In May 2023, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released a draft standard around the administration of psychotropic medicines for people with cognitive disabilities or impairment for consultation.  OTA submitted a response calling on a stronger focus for non-pharmacological strategies and emphasising the expertise of occupational therapists in delivering interventions that support a non-pharmacological approaches to managing symptoms of cognitive disability or impairment.

Download here

Ageing Societies – Framework for Dementia-inclusive communities

OTA was invited to provide feedback on two published International Standards related to Ageing Societies.  Australian Standards released the documents for consultation in consideration of adopting them nationally. OT provided feedback on “Ageing societies — Framework for dementia-inclusive communities - Standards Australia AS ISO 25552

The following proposed changes for these standards to be adopted to the Australian context were suggested:

  • Ensure access to, and inclusion of, dementia care allied health experts to assist with assessment, analysis, advocacy to achieve evidence based best practice solutions.
  • Ensure access to a seamless and integrated dementia care system that supports a person from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond.
  • Wherever possible, prevention strategies and services offered should be evidence based, best practice approaches.
  • Ensure people living with dementia are offered opportunities to build their own competencies and skills through the delivery of evidence-based dementia specific rehabilitation programs led by clinicians with expertise in dementia rehabilitation.
  • Ensure key stakeholders involved in dementia, including allied health professionals, have opportunities to build expertise, competencies and skills through accredited training programs that offer ongoing learning and support.
  • Persons with dementia and their carers should be engaged, wherever possible, in a co-design approach to ensure their role in the development and delivery of policies or programs directly impacting them. This might include, but are not limited to, health and social care policies or programs, training and education opportunities or community engagement and awareness initiatives.
  • The person living with dementia must have equitable and timely access to dementia specific programs and qualified health professionals to receive the supports required to support independent living and attain empowerment.
  • Every effort should be taken to ensure existing relationships held by the person living with dementia are not compromised through lack of transparency or discussion around carer roles and responsibilities, or by lack of suitable alternative external care supports. Discussions must be had early in diagnosis to determine who will take on carer responsibilities and the extent of the care they will offer.  If these discussions are not had openly and compassionately, long held family, intimate or friend relationships may be compromised.
  • Greater awareness and dialogue between the employer, the person with dementia and their key dementia care supports or healthcare workers, to better understand capacity to continue to work, adjustments or supports that are required to maintain work roles, and considerations for when to step down / end the work career.
  • Greater reference to federal and state legislation around restrictive practices and mandatory reporting requirements around serious incidents including physical and sexual abuse.

To understand the work OTA are doing in response to the aged care reforms, and to read our submissions and monthly aged care updates, follow this link.

Other initiatives to explore during Dementia Action Week:

Aged Care Allied Health Scholarships

The Australian College of Nursing are offering a range of Aged Care Scholarships for allied health professionals to fund postgraduate qualifications including Graduate certificates, Graduate diplomas and master’s degrees.  Up to 100 allied health scholarships per year for up to three years are available offering training for Dementia specific qualifications relating to the care of older people.  A dedicated scholarship scheme is also available to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students undertaking an undergraduate course in an eligible health related discipline.

Applications are now open and close on 11:59pm AEST, Tuesday 10 October 2023.

To find out more click here.

Dementia in Australia Report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released an updated version of the Dementia in Australia report in October 2022. The report predicts a significant increase in dementia diagnoses with numbers expected to more than double by 2058 to nearly 850,000 people. Women are more highly represented in these figures with dementia the leading cause of death for women in 2020.

To read the report, follow this link.

LGBTI and Dementia: Understanding changes in behaviour

Dementia Support Australia in collaboration with LGBTIQ+ Health Australia have developed a new resource to support culturally safe, appropriate, and inclusive care in line with the Aged Care Standards. The booklet is free to download with LGBTI-inclusive training for the aged care sector also available through LGBTIQ+ Health Australia. For a copy of the booklet or to find out more about the free training, follow this link or email:


In October 2022, Dementia Australia hosted a webinar with Minister Mark Butler and Minister Anika Wells about future dementia policy and launched a new free app called BrainTrack. Developed by Dementia Australia and the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute at Deakin University with funding from Australian Government, BrainTrack will help individuals monitor changes in cognition and provides education about brain health. For more information about BrainTrack follow this link. To watch a recording of the webinar, follow this link.

Dementia Australia Recording featuring OTA's Christina Wyatt

Last year, Dementia Australia welcomed OTA's Christina Wyatt, occupational therapist and professional practice advisor, as a guest speaker to record a specialised education video. Christina explains the role of occupational therapy and the ways in which occupational therapists can assist someone living with demenita. Access the video here. 

Dementia Divas

Dementia Divas is an upcoming US TV show featuring occupational therapist Teepa Snow, Lori La Bey and Dr. Macie Smith. The show aims to break down the challenges of living with and caring for loved ones with dementia and bring new focus to creative and arts-based care options. Watch the trailer here and learn more at

Sponsored Advertising - Find out more