A new approach to dementia care

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01 June, 2012
Today, Ita Buttrose, National President of Alzheimer’s Australia, will announce six innovative projects that turn existing dementia research into quality dementia care.

The projects, funded by The National Quality Dementia Care Initiative (the Initiative), ensure important research findings are influencing mainstream healthcare and medical practices now, rather than taking the average 17 years to make a difference.  

“The Initiative is a key step in building evidence-based dementia care services and raising awareness of the disease,” Ms Buttrose said.

“People with dementia and family carers have chosen research projects they feel will make the biggest difference to the quality of life of the 280,000 Australians living with dementia and their 1.2 million carers.  

“The decisions of the people who are living with the disease every day is the key to the success of this Initiative.”

The Initiative was established by Alzheimer’s Australia with a $2.2 million dollar grant from the J.O & J.R Wicking Trust, and $810,000 from Bupa Care Services. The Consumer Dementia Research Network (the Network), made up of four people with dementia and 21 family carers from around Australia, drive the Initiative’s priority areas for the projects.  

Since 2011, the program has awarded over $2 million to eight projects, including; improving assessment and diagnosis of dementia; better support for carers; increasing access to advance care plans; and, improving palliative care services that help people with dementia to die with dignity.

Dr Ron Sinclair, Chairperson of the Network, said it is absolutely paramount that we keep moving in this direction.  

“It is all very well for researchers to conduct research and come up with good results, but we also need to start making sure that this research is turned into better care and services,” Dr Sinclair said.

Teresa Zolnierkiewicz, Head of Philanthropy for ANZ Trustees, said the Initiative is a flagship grant of the J.O and J.R Wicking Trust which ANZ Trustees has managed since 2005. Since then, the Trust has awarded grants totalling $33 million to address issues relating to ageing and Alzheimer’s disease.  

“The Wicking Trust is an example of the generosity of private wealth and what it can achieve by seeding significant projects such as the Initiative. The benefactors, John and Janet Wicking, had the vision to devote the significant part of their Trust to issues of ageing and Alzheimer’s disease, and would be proud of the world class work carried out by Alzheimer’s Australia.  

“We recognise the importance of this work for people living with dementia in Australia and in the international community. The Initiative addresses one of Australia’s most important and rapidly growing public health issues, Alzheimer’s disease,” Ms Zolnierkiewicz said.  

Managing Director of Bupa Care Services Australia, Paul Gregersen, says Bupa strives to be at the forefront of innovation in dementia care.

“With approximately 70 per cent of the people we care for living with dementia, providing good quality care is not enough,” Mr Gregersen said.  

“Bupa wants to create a better future for all people living with this disease. That is why it is a priority for us to support the work of Alzheimer’s Australia and the NQDCI in particular,” Mr Gregersen said. 

While this is a fantastic step to ensuring improvements in dementia care, there is still a long way to go.  

“These eight projects are just the start,” Ms Buttrose said.

“We cannot cover every aspect of dementia care that needs to be improved, we need more funding for research in care, treatment and ultimately for a cure.”  

The following six projects were announced today by Ita Buttrose, National President of Alzheimer’s Australia.

1.    Person-centred dementia support in the community, Dr David Sykes (Alzheimer’s Australia Vic) & Dr Chris Hatherly (Alzheimer’s Australia National Office) – joint project leads  

2.    Integrated care framework for advanced dementia, A/Prof Meera Agar Hammond Care (collaborating with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW)  

3.    Advance care planning for people with dementia, Dr Chris Shanley, Liverpool Hospital, NSW (collaborating with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW)  

4.    Heart Foundation Walking for the Mind, Michelle Wilson, Heart Foundation (collaborating with Alzheimer’s Australia SA)  

5.    Development of an evidence-based on-line resource package to improve staff-family relationships for people with dementia living in residential aged care, Dr Michael Bauer, Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care (collaborating with Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, Alzheimer’s Australia Qld & Alzheimer’s Australia Tas)  

6.    Improving outcomes for a timely diagnosis and management of dementia in General Practice, Dr Allan Shell, Dementia Collaborative Research Centre – Assessment and Better Care (collaborating with Alzheimer’s Australia NSW)

For more information go to www.qualitydementiacare.org.au