Improving community service uptake and wellbeing for people with dementia and their carers during the early stages of the condition, is the focus of a new Griffith study.

This will be just one of the subjects discussed this September at the university during Dementia Awareness Month 2017, the theme of which is “You are not alone”.

“Awareness of community services and levels of uptake are generally low in older people and lowest amongst care recipients and carers living with dementia,” says Dr Gillian Stockwell-Smith from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

People struggling to cope with dementia

“These are often people that are really struggling to cope with their dementia and are reluctant to access any form of support until the later stages of the condition.”

Dr Stockwell-Smith’s research team evaluated the effect of a targeted psychosocial program offered to 45 people in their own homes which has aimed to get a better understanding of these people’s lives including how they communicate with others, how they manage their lives and their attitudes towards forward planning, from both a physical care and financial perspective.

The study team found that those who completed the program showed a significant increase in use of education and information services and support group services, compared to a control group.

They also showed a trend towards sustained or increased uptake of Home Help/Social Support and Transport services following the program.

“The facilitated discussions that occurred during the program sessions provided an opportunity to identify gaps in the participants’ knowledge of dementia and support programs and promote a pattern of informal and formal use,” says Dr Stockwell-Smith.

“We also saw in post-program evaluations, that participants expressed greater confidence in identifying and assessing community support and there was evidence of them expanding their caring network beyond the primary family carer.

“The program sessions supported the identification and development of a sustainable support network. These are critical elements in empowering people with dementia and their carers in fostering appropriate identification of and access to support along their journey.”

Dr Stockwell-Smith is now aiming to replicate the study with another group of participants with early-stage dementia within a memory clinic and general medical practice.

“It’s all about trying to improve and broaden people’s support networks in order to prepare them for their future care.

Events for Dementia Awareness

Dr Stockwell-Smith’s presentation will be on Monday 11 September at 1-2pm at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, and is just one event of several being held by Griffith Health during September’s Dementia Awareness Month 2017.

“We welcome you to join us in any number of the free presentations presented by both staff and higher degree research students from the Brain and Behaviour Research group in the Menzies Health Institute Queensland,” says Professor Wendy Moyle. “Or we invite you to visit our social robotics laboratory during opening times.

“The presentations and the lab opening times aim to demonstrate an awareness of dementia and to highlight an array of Griffith University psychosocial research that offers hope for people with dementia, their family carers and care staff.”

For the full list of events which are open to the public from 4-13 September, please visit: