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

Emma Renehan, Dianne Goeman, Susan Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In Australia, dementia is a national health priority. With the rising number of people living with dementia and shortage of formal and informal carers predicted in the near future, developing approaches to coordinating services in quality-focused ways is considered an urgent priority. Key worker support models are one approach that have been used to assist people living with dementia and their caring unit coordinate services and navigate service systems; however, there is limited literature outlining comprehensive frameworks for the implementation of community dementia key worker roles in practice. In this paper an optimised key worker framework for people with dementia, their family and caring unit living in the community is developed and presented. Methods: A number of processes were undertaken to inform the development of a co-designed optimised key worker framework: an expert working and reference group; a systematic review of the literature; and a qualitative evaluation of 14 dementia key worker models operating in Australia involving 14 interviews with organisation managers, 19 with key workers and 15 with people living with dementia and/or their caring unit. Data from the systematic review and evaluation of dementia key worker models were analysed by the researchers and the expert working and reference group using a constant comparative approach to define the essential components of the optimised framework. Results: The developed framework consisted of four main components: overarching philosophies; organisational context; role definition; and key worker competencies. A number of more clearly defined sub-themes sat under each component. Reflected in the framework is the complexity of the dementia journey and the difficulty in trying to develop a 'one size fits all' approach. Conclusions: This co-designed study led to the development of an evidence based framework which outlines a comprehensive synthesis of components viewed as being essential to the implementation of a dementia key worker model of care in the community. The framework was informed and endorsed by people living with dementia and their caring unit, key workers, managers, Australian industry experts, policy makers and researchers. An evaluation of its effectiveness and relevance for practice within the dementia care space is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number501
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2017


  • Carers
  • Case management
  • Co-design
  • Community
  • Dementia
  • Framework
  • Key worker
  • People with dementia
  • Support worker
  • Workforce

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