Tuesday 1 September 2015
One of the UK’s senior civil servants has spoken about the need for countries, including Australia, to consider developing national strategies to help tackle the growing dementia challenge.
Gill Ayling, Head of Global Action Against Dementia with the United Kingdom’s Health Department, is Alzheimer’s Australia’s guest speaker for Dementia Awareness Month 2015, which runs throughout September.
Mrs Ayling, who has led the UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Dementia Strategy since 2012 and, most recently, the Global Action Against Dementia following the 2013 G8 Summit, said that dementia is one of the major health challenges for our generation.
“There are estimated to be more than 47 million people worldwide living with dementia and, with more than 342,000 Australians with the condition, a sustained effort is required to drive forward the global activity to tackle this terrible disease,” she said.
“Work already undertaken in the UK via the National Dementia Strategy has led to more people now receiving a diagnosis than ever before. The dementia diagnosis rate at March 2015 was 61.6%.
“Most hospitals now also have Dementia Champions, with many on their way to becoming dementia-friendly and with staff being trained in better dementia care, making hospitals much safer places for people with dementia.
“As well, more than half a million NHS staff and 100,000 social care staff have been trained on better supporting people with dementia and their carers.
“And we already have more than 105 communities across England who have signed up to work towards becoming dementia-friendly and the UK was delighted to announce that it recently had more than 1.2 million people signed up as Dementia Friends – that is people who have done some level of awareness training which makes them able to better offer support to people with dementia in their community.
“Creating dementia-friendly communities is not just an aspiration. The UK experience is showing that it can happen and can have a real impact on the quality of life of a very significant section of our community that either already is, or soon will be, impacted by this fatal condition.
“Creating a dementia-friendly nation starts with you. We all have a role to play in helping people with dementia sustain their independence, dignity and sense of purpose in our communities. By making small changes, we can make a big difference.”
Alzheimer’s Australia has called for a holistic plan to tackle dementia in Australia, focusing on:
- Greater awareness of risk factors and risk reduction for dementia
- The importance of dementia-friendly communities
- The importance of timely diagnosis so symptoms can be treated before they progress to delay the onset, so people can live in the community for as long as possible
- The need for more education and training for health care professionals who are on the front line of dementia care
- Better support and care for people living with dementia and their carers and families
- Increased investment in dementia research
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said action was needed on dementia now.
“Dementia is already the second leading cause of death of Australians,” Ms Bennett said.
“By the 2060s, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition. We need to act and we need to act now.
“The UK experience has shown us this is possible and has already brought about huge benefits to communities across the country.”
Ms Ayling will be conducting a national speaking tour, visiting every State and Territory to talk about the global dementia challenge, the journey so far internationally, the importance of partnerships and more.
This year’s Dementia Awareness Month theme is ‘Creating a Dementia-Friendly Nation’. World Alzheimer’s Day is on Monday 21 September.
Alzheimer’s Australia will host a number of events throughout the month. Visit fightdementia.org.au/Dementia-Awareness-Month for details of events near you.
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 342,800 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