Nov 04
TOP 5 Improves Care for Patients with Memory, Thinking or Communication Difficulties

Help is at hand for patients with memory and thinking problems or communication difficulties thanks to the TOP 5 program at Mudgee and Gulgong Health Service's.


Mudgee Health Service recently held a “TOP 5 Week", to promote the TOP 5 program and conduct education sessions with health service staff. Gulgong Health Service staff also received education about the TOP 5 program.

The TOP 5 program acknowledges the valuable information carers can provide about a patient with memory, thinking or communication difficulties. A carer may be either a family member, friend or neighbour who provides regular ongoing support to a person due to their health condition or disability.

TOP 5 provides carers with the opportunity to share their knowledge of the person they care for with health staff. Carers are invited to share up to 5 things that they feel are important for staff to know about to help settle, reduce a person's anxiety, and help with communication during a stay in hospital.


The information is recorded by the carer on a TOP 5 form. The TOP 5 strategies can be used by all staff involved in the patient's care including nursing, allied health and even patient transport.

Mudgee Health Service Manager, Caren Harrison, said, “The TOP 5 program allows us to gain insight into the patient from the information provided by the carer.

“This helps staff better understand a patient's needs as well as how the patient communicates and reacts when their routine changes, or if they are in a strange environment".

“People with cognitive impairments and communication difficulties, for example someone with dementia, often experience a high level of anxiety when they are not in their familiar surroundings and are experiencing pain or discomfort. 

It may not be easy for staff to communicate effectively or understand the signals that indicate that a person's anxiety is escalating, which can cause frustration for staff, and distress for carers, and of course the patient".

“A patient's care can be personalised using the TOP 5 strategies to reduce anxiety, distress and provide a safer environment" Karen said.

For further information about the TOP 5 program at Mudgee Health Service contact Joshua McLean on 6378 6222 or contact Carer Program Coordinator, Antonia Hynes on 0418 866 205.