Rachel Winterton, Don Douglass and Irene Blackberry. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

A three-year La Trobe University study aimed at improving dementia carers’ access to local services and support, launched this week in Bendigo.

People living with dementia, their carers, and organisations involved in dementia care from across the region gathered at the La Trobe Art Institute on Tuesday.

The Webster Rural and Regional Dementia Care Project is funded through the bequest of Gordon Webster, and is focused on Bendigo and surrounding areas.

Head of La Trobe’s John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, Professor Irene Blackberry, said after a dementia diagnosis it is often challenging for family and friends to navigate available support options.

“After a dementia diagnosis, carers need access to a whole range of support, including financial, emotional and social,” Prof. Blackberry said.

“Often the processes are confusing, and services are insufficiently linked up, making it a challenging experience for some carers.

“This study aims to come up with innovative solutions, to ensure dementia carers feel supported and in control while they navigate life after the diagnosis of a loved one.”

The project will utilise online surveys and one-on-one interviews to determine how support is provided, and whether there are gaps in dementia care pathways.

Participants will include health care providers, dementia support agencies and carers’ networks, as well as the carers themselves, from across the City of Greater Bendigo.

“Although all the work will be conducted in Bendigo, we hope that the innovative solutions that come out of this project will have application across all of regional Victoria,” Prof. Blackberry said.