Behaviours & Psychological Symptoms associated with Dementia (BPSD)

Project Researchers Prof. Henry Brodaty AO, Dr. Tiffany Jessop, Dr. Claire Burley, Kim Burns


Program Overview:

Most people living with dementia will experience changed Behaviours and Psychological Symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD), also referred to as responsive behaviours, changed behaviours and neuropsychiatric symptoms at some stage during their illness. These terms encompass a broad range of symptoms including aggression, agitation, sleep disturbance, anxiety, apathy, depression, psychotic symptoms and wandering.

Despite accumulating evidence that BPSD can be prevented from occurring or escalating using non-pharmacological approaches, these evidence-based strategies are not currently being widely adopted. Many people with dementia are inappropriately prescribed psychotropic medicines. Person-Centred Care is the exception rather than the rule across care settings but particularly in acute and residential care. The Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Dementia in Australia provide standards against which benchmarking can occur. Culture change can only be achieved through partnership between researchers, service providers, clinicians and policy makers.

The DCRC has developed unique expertise and clinical networks in the area of BPSD care and compiled a highly successful Guide to Good Practice Managing BPSD in print, online and App formats and one of the current aims of the Flagship is to update these resources. Additionally, as part of the 2018-2021 Flagship activities, we plan to disseminate a BPSD guide for clinicians working with the LGBTIQ community which we have completed and have plans for language-friendly guides for CALD communities.

Better understanding of and improvement in identification, assessment and care practices for BPSD in Australia will result in more highly skilled aged care and health providers. This, in turn, will result in better quality of life for people with dementia and their families and long-term cost benefits.

There is a large body of evidence for how to provide quality care for people experiencing BPSD. The challenge is how to translate this knowledge into practice. The objective of this Flagship Program is to establish feasible, economical and generalisable strategies to make this business as usual in all care settings, primary, community, acute and residential. To achieve this aim we will support projects implementing or evaluating sustainable programs for promoting best practice in caring for people experiencing BPSD or aiming to change the culture of care in primary, community, acute or residential care to reduce or ameliorate BPSD. Current evidence gaps such as projects targeting special needs groups e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, rural/remote and LGBTI communities will be sought after and we will work to synthesise all data and work with service providers and policy makers to make Person-Centred Care business as usual across all communities and settings.

Special Interest Group

The ‘Behaviours and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD)’ special interest group started in early 2019 and has over 100 members from diverse backgrounds including people living with dementia, family members, care partners, care providers, members of government, health professionals and researchers. The group have had several meetings, roundtable discussions (e.g. Australian Dementia Forum) and workshops. In 2020 the subgroup ‘Anxiety and depression in dementia research’ BPSD subgroup was formed in collaboration with the University of Queensland.

Aims of special interest group:

  1. To foster research into prevention and management of behaviours and psychological symptoms associated with dementia
  2. To encourage research implementation
  3. To encourage collaboration in research and implementation between people living with dementia, families and care partners, service providers, members of government, policy makers and researchers
  4. To provide a forum for discussion

Please email to find out more information and if you are interested in joining.


View useful Behaviour Management Resources:

Behaviour Management: A Guide to Good Practice (BPSD Guide)

The document Behaviour Management: A Guide to Good Practice, Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) is a comprehensive overview of evidence and practice-based management principles for BPSD*. This resource is designed for clinicians with a role in caring for people with dementia in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), community care and acute care settings. The BPSD Guide provides guidance for clinicians supporting family members and carers as well as RACF and community care staff caring for people with dementia who present with BPSD.

Behaviour and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia Guide for Clinicians App

An app developed to provide guidance for clinicians in their role of assisting residential aged care facility staff, community care staff and family members caring for persons living with dementia, who present with behavioural and psychological symptoms. This App provides summary information relevant to the most commonly presenting behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD): […]

Care4Dementia App

This App was developed to provide information and support for carers in their role of caring for persons with behavioural changes that can occur in dementia. Information on what these behaviours look like, why they might be happening and what you can do to help is included for those most commonly reported by carers. Understanding why behavioural changes are occurring can help to manage the behaviour.

Clinician’s Field Guide to Good Practice (Behaviours & Psychological Symptoms of Dementia)

The Clinician’s Field Guide is a ‘travel size’ hands-on summary of the original and comprehensive document Behaviour Management: A Guide to Good Practice, Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD). This smaller guide for clinicians provides easy access to key messages, BPSD descriptions, potential causes and brief clinical scenarios to guide assessment and management strategies.

A Guide for Family Carers

A Guide for Family Carers is a ‘travel size’ adapted summary of the original DBMAS Behaviour Management Guide to Good Practice. This Guide is for family carers supporting a person with dementia. It includes practical information about how to deal with behaviours and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD)*

Posters for Remote Aboriginal Communities – Behaviours and Psychological Symptoms associated with Dementia

The BPSD Posters for Remote Aboriginal Communities are a set of posters based on the principles outlined in the document Behaviour Management – A Guide to Good Practice: Managing Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD). The posters were developed in collaboration with the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, Northern Territory (DBMAS NT) and other expert clinicians to support a series of BPSD videos developed by DBMAS NT.

Responsive Behaviour Quick Reference Cards

Dementia Training Australia's (DTA) Quick Reference Cards are designed to help address responsive behaviours. The cards provide an on-the-spot point of reference for health professionals and care staff working with people with dementia.

LGBTI Fact Sheets

There is a need for greater, targeted support for LGBTI people with dementia from all care contexts, requiring service providers to be better informed in the additional considerations relevant to the management of BPSD in this group.

DTA’s Responsive Behaviour App

Dementia Training Australia’s (DTA) Responsive Behaviours App is an on-the-spot reference point for health professionals and care staff working with people with dementia. Underpinned by a person-centred approach, this app will help you look up common responsive behaviours, find approaches to help you problem solve, address responsive behaviours and help prevent them. THE APP INCLUDES: […]

Webinar: Understanding Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia and Antipsychotic Medications

How to understand, prevent, and remedy Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD). This video is a webinar originally recorded for the HALT project as part of an accredited educational activity for GPs.

Recorded June 2016

Presenter: Professor Henry Brodaty

Running Time: 90 minutes