01 Feb 2017


woman with dementia outside with carer

The CAUSEd problem-solving tool assists carers to understand and respond when people with dementia are communicating their unmet needs through their behaviour.

DTA currently uses different terms for behaviour. We will be progressively moving to the term Changed Behaviour in all our content.

Alzheimer’ s Australia Vic developed* the CAUSEd problem-solving tool to assist carers to understand and respond when people with dementia are communicating their unmet needs through their behaviour.

CAUSEd (Communication, Activity, Unwell/unmet needs, Story, Environment, dementia) is an easy-to-remember acronym that encourages family carers and health care workers to look beyond presenting behaviours and beyond medical-model based explanations of the origins of these behavioural responses, and to see the person with dementia.

Looking at their story, the environment they live in, their physical and emotional health, the nature of the activities they are engaged in and the communication challenges they experience, carers are able to pinpoint modifiable triggers for these responses and develop and implement support strategies specifically designed to meet the need communicated by the ‘ behaviour’ (see CAUSEd examples).

CAUSEd provides a systematic approach to problem-solving to help carers minimise the impact of responsive behaviours.

It does this by shifting the focus away from behaviours being ‘ difficult’ , ‘ challenging’ or ‘ problem’ behaviours and providing an understanding of how the physical and social environment can be challenging and unsupportive for a person with dementia.

Since 2008, CAUSEd has been an important tool in Alzheimer’ s Australia Vic’ s learning programs. In 2014-15 it was used to introduce more than 17,000 family carers and health care workers to the application of person-centred approaches to supporting people with dementia (Alzheimer’ s Australia Vic 2014-15).

Key Points

  • CAUSEd is a tool that assists carers to understand and respond to unmet needs.
  • It encourages carers to look beyond behaviours and see the person with dementia
  • It has been adopted by a number of Key agencies
  • To learn more about CAUSEd, attend a Dementia Essentials workshop

Extract from

Australian Journal of Dementia Care


1 February, 2017 Read full article



The CAUSEd acronym has been adopted by a number of key Australian agencies and researchers for use in training programs and publications.

  • The Dementia Training Study Centres included the CAUSEd acronym in its workshop series ‘ The Portrait, the Mirror and the Landscape’ .
  • It has also been used in training work led by Dr Sue Aberdeen, in which she adopted the CAUSEd acronym to signify the key concepts in concept mapping to improve problem-solving in residential aged care facility staff (Aberdeen 2011).

Learn more about CAUSEd

DTA’s Dementia Essentials workshop is an accredited dementia training program that covers the CAUSEd approach to problem-solving along with strategies to assist with good communication, planning, developing appropriate activities and understanding changed behaviour in people living with dementia.

It is delivered nationally by consortium member, Dementia Australia, and is fully-funded by the Australian Government. Cost-free for the Australian workforce (anyone working with people living with dementia), it can be completed Online (with a virtual classroom) or face to face at workshops held year-round across all Australian states and territories.

Learn more.

*Footnote: Dementia Australia Vic educators Di Fitzgerald and Marina Cavill developed the CAUSEd model for Dementia Australia Vic.

View more on DOMS: Behaviour Measures & Tools at the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration website: https://dementiaresearch.org.au/doms/behaviour/

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