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Dementia: What Lawyers Need to Know

Learn and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to be a ‘dementia-capable’ legal professional. Learn cutting-edge information to promote the legal rights of clients with dementia, support capacity, and avoid problems such as abuse of power of attorney.

About this course

With an ageing population, lawyers across many areas of practice can expect to encounter people living with dementia or other neurocognitive conditions. This assessed microcredential is designed to support participants to develop the attributes required to ethically and effectively work with such clients.

As a participant in this course, you’ll gain current factual information on dementia, including types, symptoms and causes and form an understanding of the principles of decision-making capacity, applying strategies of supported decision-making.

Associate Professor Nola Ries will guide you to identify and respond comprehensively to legal issues and risks for people with dementia, including the needs of diverse persons with dementia.

Course content encourages a client-centred approach, focusing on abilities and strengths and using effective and respectful communication techniques. Learn how to identify when client capacity may be in question and to respond appropriately using preventive strategies to protect people with dementia from exploitation and abuse.

Course outline

This course is based on modules of online learning materials, including recorded video content from our lead academic and a variety of guest speakers, delivered via UTS’ Learning Management System, Canvas. Without time-specific classes, this format allows for flexible learning of the content whilst still being structured. Time management is incorporated by way of assessment and interactive activities, such as self-assessment quizzes, to encourage learners to continually develop over the duration of the course. These participation elements (e.g. discussion board posts) are embedded throughout the online materials and count as part of the overall assessment.

Four modules will be explored over a period of seven weeks:

Module 1: The foundations – becoming a dementia-capable practitioner

  • Introduction - the need for dementia-capable legal practitioners
  • Dementia - understanding the facts

Module 2:

  • Legal needs for people with dementia - advance personal planning
  • Decision-making capacity
  • Support for decision-making

Module 3:

  • Elder abuse identification, prevention and response

Module 4:

  • Course wrap-up; looking to the future.

In covering the topics outlined above, the course provides essential, practice-relevant training to enable lawyers to fulfil their professional duties and provide effective services for people with dementia.

Course learning objectives

On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify and respond comprehensively and appropriately to legal issues and risks for people with dementia
  • Understand and fulfil ethical duties to clients who live with conditions that affect capacity
  • Apply strategies for effective and respectful communication and to support client decision-making capacity.

Key benefits of this microcredential

  • Expansion of legal knowledge, especially in relation to social justice, ethical practice and contemporary developments in law and professional practice.
  • Strengthening the ability to identify, reflect on and respond to ethical challenges in practice
  • Improvement in communication skills, especially respectful and effective communication.

This microcredential aligns with the 3-credit point subject, Dementia: What Lawyers Need to Know (78600) in one of the following postgraduate offerings: Master of Laws (C04143), Master of Legal Studies (C04264) and UTS Law’s Juris Doctor courses. This microcredential may qualify for recognition of prior learning at this and other institutions.

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for legal practitioners in a range of practice areas, including:

  • Elder law
  • Wills and estates
  • Health law
  • Family law
  • Human rights law
  • Generalist practice.

This course may also be suitable for people interested in studying law with a view to practice in areas such as those above.

Course Information

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategy 1:  Self-directed learning. The course is delivered online and participants apply self-directed learning skills to engage with and reflect on the course materials.

Strategy 2:  Development of a dementia-capable toolkit. Participants compile resources based on recommendations offered throughout the course to develop their own toolkit for their professional practice.

Strategy 3:  Interprofessional learning and collaboration. Participants learn from experts in other disciplines and appraise strategies for cross-sector collaboration to improve responses and outcomes for people with dementia.


  • Participants will be supported in accordance with accessibility requirements.
  • Participants will be provided with guidance and support as to the use of Canvas and other learning tools and resources.

Assessment criteria

There are three assessment tasks for this course:

1. Written reflection (1,000 words) - 25% 

2. Case study of a client scenario (2,000 words) - 60% 

3. Participation in online activities (500 words) - 15%

The objective of the assessments is to provide opportunities for participants to:

  • Develop their own dementia-capable toolkit that they may use to prepare and justify a plan of action when advising a client with dementia
  • Reflect on their learning and develop ‘gerontological literacy’, which means that legal practitioners are aware of and able to apply knowledge from the gerontological health and social sciences into legal practice and policy.

Note: for the March session, submission of the final assessment task will be due by 30 April 2021, at the latest.

Minimum requirements

Completion of all assessments tasks, and an overall mark of 50% (Pass) or above.

Required texts

There are no specific required resources. Various publicly available resources are provided throughout the course. These provide a foundation for the dementia-capable toolkit that participants compile as a personalised resource.

Participant requirements and equipment

To complete this online course you will need a personal computer with reliable Internet access and an operating system with a web browser compatible with the Canvas LMS.


Full price: $2,898 (GST free)

Special price: $2,463 (GST free) Special price offer only available for the session commencing 8 March 2021

As a special introductory offer to microcredential study, the Faculty of Law is offering a reduced rate of $2,463 for the first session of this course (Full price $2,898).




08 March




Self paced


60 hrs

Lead Academic

Dr Nola Ries

Dr Nola Ries
Associate Professor, UTS Faculty of Law

Nola Ries, BA (Hons), JD, MPA, LLM, PhD (Behavioural Science), is an expert in law, health and ageing and a member of the UTS Law|Health|Justice Research Centre. She is qualified as a lawyer in Australia and Canada and is an experienced educator and researcher in the fields of Elder Law and Health Law. Nola has designed and delivered numerous university and continuing professional education courses for legal and health professionals.

Nola leads practice-relevant education and research on elder abuse, advance planning for incapacity, and the rights of people with dementia. She has a strong focus on community engagement and interprofessional collaboration to improve justice and health outcomes for older people. She is a prolific author of over 80 academic journal articles and book chapters. Nola serves on committees of the Australian Association of Gerontology and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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Additional information

Additional information

Please contact UTS Faculty of Law’s Short Courses Team with any enquiries about this course:

Book a session

Mon 08 Mar 2021 -
Fri 30 Apr 2021
Expert: Dr Nola Ries
  • Online with course materials and assessment delivered via Canvas LMS
  • Online
  • 60 hours total
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