Quality dementia care must be an ongoing priority

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As the federal election nears, Australians impacted by dementia are calling on all candidates to pledge that providing quality dementia care will be placed firmly at the top of the agenda for the ongoing systemic aged care reforms in the 47th parliament.

Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe said it is three and a half years since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was called and 15 months since the Final Report was handed to government.

“This Final Report stated, “dementia care should be core business for aged care services, and particularly residential aged care services [1], ” Ms McCabe said.

“Delivering quality dementia care isn’t yet core business across our aged care system and, without question, it needs to be.

“We know 70 per cent of the almost half a million Australians with dementia are living in the community and 70 per cent of residential aged care residents have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.

“With this prevalence, quality dementia care must be top of the agenda for every plan, framework, strategy and review of the aged care system reform process including residential and home and community care.

“While there has been significant investment and many aged care reforms are underway, there is still much to be done to fulfil the recommendations of the Royal Commission. 

“People impacted by dementia need the reforms to start making a difference now. 

“It’s not just Government that needs to implement change. We need to see a commitment to quality dementia care from Boards, directors and governance committees across the aged care, disability and health care sectors by addressing dementia as an ongoing priority.”

In the lead up to the federal budget and throughout the election campaign the messages from people of all ages impacted by dementia have been loud and clear.

Through events, speeches, meetings, networking, letters, emails, e-newsletters, phone and video calls, video messages, media releases, social media and in the media all candidates have been called on to commit to implementing compulsory dementia training for the aged care workforce, a national dementia palliative care program and renewed funding of the Dementia-Friendly Communities program.

Three Dementia Advocates have shared their reasons why these issues are so important to them in video messages.

  • 27 year old Isabelle Burke said: “If only the staff at my mother’s aged care facility were properly trained, I could have spent more time engaging in rewarding experiences with my mum such as walking or gardening and less time responding to behavioural challenges.”
  • In support of a national dementia palliative care program Vern Marshall said: “Caring for a person with dementia brings unique strains, stresses and challenges; emotional, physical and often financial that aren’t always obvious to those who have not had a lived experience of dementia and dementia caring in their households.”
  • John Quinn who is living with dementia spoke about the Dementia-Friendly Communities Program “This program has changed my life and tens of thousands of other Australians. It has given me hope.” 

“Dementia Australia will work with the elected government and all sector leaders to ensure the aged care system reforms deliver quality dementia care,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated half a million Australians living with dementia, and the almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.

For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available and the Helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au 

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Media contacts: Emma Langoulant, 0422 810 667 or Emma.Langoulant@dementia.org.au 

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.

 [1] Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report Volume 1 Page 69.