ACH Group dementia expert Teresa Moran has been presented with a Health Care Hero award for her work in dementia services.
Teresa has been instrumental in helping to launch ACH Group’s Dementia Specialist Advisory Service and Planning Ahead Advisory Service.
She told 5AA’s Alan Hickey that it was important that people continued to challenge the myth that dementia was an inevitable part of ageing and that nothing could be done to support people living with dementia.
“There’s a lot of living to be done post a diagnosis of dementia,” she said. “Part of my role is to educate staff and families and to design new service initiatives for customers living in the community to enable them to continue to lead a good live and to give them a sense of hope for the future.”
Teresa said ACH Group focussed on three key areas around living well post diagnosis: remaining physically active, socially connected and cognitively stimulated – continuing to learn and be challenged by new things.
“Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges; a lot of customers tell us that long term friends and even family don’t know how to relate to (them),” she said. “That can have a significant impact on self-esteem and self-confidence.”
ACH Group had introduced a range of social programs including innovative initiatives for customers living with younger onset dementia.
“We’ve designed our social programs around people’s interests and their ability levels, to allow them to continue to connect with others, and often others that are going through similar experiences to them.”
She was encouraged by a growing body of research that showed there was a role for rehabilitation post diagnosis.
“That ranges from physiotherapy interventions around exercise to occupational therapy around maintaining independence,” she said. “We’re now (seeing) that people can continue to learn and grow and develop neural pathways; they can be encouraged to exercise to maintain mobility and balance, and to slow the progression of the disease.”
ACH Group’s Dementia Specialist Advisory Service offered advice to the person and family members around living well but also strategies on how to navigate aged care services, how to communicate with one another and to reduce anxiety levels.
“I enjoy being able to instil hope in what can be a life-changing and devastating diagnosis, and being able to support families and the person through significant challenges.”
ACH Group’s Ivy Diegmann, who nominated Teresa for the award, said Teresa showed an unrelenting commitment to challenging the myths and stereotypes that existed around dementia.
“Teresa drives us all to think differently about what the possibilities are around rehabilitation and dementia,” she said.
Find out more about ACH Group’s dementia services here.
Listen to the interview –