Government recognises importance of specialist dementia care

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Media Release

21 December 2016

Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the Government’s announcement in The  Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO 2016-2017) indicating they will fulfil their $7.5 million election promise, by establishing a Specialist Dementia Care Unit in each of the 31 Primary Health Network regions. 

Alzheimer’s Australia Ag National CEO, Maree McCabe, said these units will not only ensure people living with dementia are offered meaningful and appropriate dementia care, it will also go a long way to help alleviate pressure on the already stretched aged care services.

“A Specialist Dementia Care Unit provides one-on-one care for people who experience very severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and are unable to be supported in a mainstream aged care service,” Ms McCabe said. 

“The delivery of these facilities will begin to support the specialised level of care some people living with dementia require, however, given the complex nature of the condition we need to ensure that multiple strategies for supporting severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are included and implemented.”

Alzheimer’s Australia recommends a variety of approaches to support people with dementia who experience severe behavioural and psychological symptoms including:

  • Stronger support in the community through targeted dementia specialist programs. Evidence shows that dementia-friendly environments, targeted person-centered programs and services can lessen the impact for people living with dementia, their carers and families. For example, effective early intervention and psychosocial support can increase quality of life, reduce stress and facilitate a person living with dementia’s choice of staying at home longer. These strategies may also reduce costs across the broader health and aged care sector in relation to dementia
  • Non-pharmacological approaches to alleviate symptoms, such as attending to environmental factors which may be contributing to the experience of the person living with dementia and their quality of life
  • Education for formal carers, to gain a better understanding of dementia and the reasons why certain behaviours may be manifesting, such as adverse effects of medication, pain or other unmet physical, medical or psychosocial needs 
  • Specialist supports for carers and families which advances knowledge and the ability to understand and support the person with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia 

There are currently 353,800 Australians living with dementia, this number will increase to 900,000 by 2050  without a medical breakthrough. Although there are individual differences, severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia will occur at some point in up to 90% of people living with dementia, during the course of the condition , it is essential measures are put in place to support people experiencing these symptoms in our communities.

“We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that people living with dementia require specialised care and support and we look forward to improved quality of life for people living with dementia who will now have access to this important new initiative,” Ms McCabe said.

Media enquiries:
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [email protected]

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

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