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Table 5 Essential Components: Key Worker Competencies

From: Development of an optimised key worker framework for people with dementia, their family and caring unit living in the community

Key Worker Areas Source Quotes from Australian Evaluation of Dementia Key Worker Models
Knowledge Consensus Areas:
Dementia
Other Areas:
Clinical and Scientific (e.g. nursing background, allied health background) (10 models)
Family and Carer Needs (e.g. utilising a whole of family approach to support) (eight models)
Services and Resources (e.g. service availability, referral pathways, entry criteria, waitlists, education/training opportunities) (eight models)
Sector (e.g. aged care, disability) (six models)
Work Experience (five models)
Life Experience (three models)
Cultural Differences (two models)
Australian Evaluation “You’ve got to have a spread of knowledge. I think the support worker needs to be embedded in a dementia specific knowledge base.” [Key Worker Sixteen]
“I believe that they need to have an understanding of or some type of training in aged care, especially with people with dementia. They need to really get to know that person” [Consumer Eight]
Skills Consensus Areas:
Communication and interpersonal
Ability to generate ideas and problem solve
Ability to build and maintain relationships
Other Areas:
Ability to provide education (information provision) (11 models)
Clinical (e.g. ability to judge and screen for medical issues, medication issues, physical changes) (six models)
Counselling (five models)
Advocacy (five models)
Assessment (e.g. ability to screen and assess physical, social, mental, emotional health needs) (four models)
Time Management (four models)
Australian Evaluation “Definitely the people skills and being able to ask the questions that a lot of people wouldn’t normally consider. It’s not just as simple as asking a question. You actually can then offer some solutions for those questions that they have. You have to be I guess quite good at communicating with people in a variety of different contexts whether that’s phone or email or face to face.” [Key Worker Twenty]
“I mean it’s like going to a restaurant, you get given a menu. There’s no point saying well I want sort of scrambled deer antlers and they say, oh sorry we don’t have any and you’ll have to get something else... tell us what you do have and then we can go from there because most people aren’t going to want everything. They’re just going to say, well this would be helpful. I don’t want that or that or that but I wouldn’t mind that and perhaps down the track I’d like to have a bit of that. So just some suggestions so that you know what is on offer, what is available.” [Consumer Two]
Attributes Consensus Areas –Key Workers, Organisation Managers (top five):
1. Empathetic (ten models)
2. Good Listener (seven models)
3. Person-centred (six models)
4. Adaptable and Flexible (five models)
5. Genuine, Kind, Caring (five models)
Consensus Areas – Consumers (top five)
1. Good Listener (six consumers)
2. Empathetic (four consumers)
3. Caring (three consumers)
3a) Stable, Reliable, Committed (three consumers)
3b) Proactive (three consumers)
3c) Perceptive, Astute (three consumers)
3d) Practical, Realistic (three consumers)
4. Understanding (two consumers)
4a) Resilient (two consumers)
4b) Open (two consumers)
5. Encouraging (one consumer)
Australian Evaluation “Empathy is really, really important, but also the ability to hold their hand and go, okay, I’m here, I’m listening to you. There are things we can do together and then let’s see how we can build your strength to be able to cope with this.” [Key Worker Five]
Just being able to listen I think is a key thing... it’s the first time they have been able to talk to someone that doesn’t have an emotional investment in making some decision or judging them.” [Key Worker Ten]
“They need to be empathetic, understanding, be prepared to listen, be practical. You know, there’s none of that airy fairy stuff. You really have to be practical and realistic about it” [Consumer Nine]
They need to be a good listener and they need to be able to almost read between the lines.” [Consumer Five]
I think the biggest thing for me was just having someone to sound off to that was actually not just sympathetic, empathetic. She was actually encouraging and she’d give me ideas of how she handled things. She encouraged me to be brave” [Consumer Three]