Lack of visibility in home care and dementia a major concern

Friday 22 March 2019

The spotlight on home care at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality this week is long overdue and will instil confidence in all people impacted by dementia that their voices are being heard.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the lack of visibility and accountability around the home care system has been a concern reported by advocates and our clients for many years.

“The lack of appropriate dementia knowledge and skills in the home care workforce, the lack of transparency and accountability with the system of home care packages – both in their allocation and management, and the high turnover of the mostly casual workforce are the issues raised repeatedly by carers and people living with dementia in the community,” Ms McCabe said.

“There is a distinct gap in data around how many people receiving care, or on waiting lists, are living with dementia.

“Evidence provided by workers during the course of the Royal Commission suggests that anywhere from one quarter to half of clients receiving home care have dementia but many do not receive a dementia supplement nor is their diagnosis necessarily recorded.

“With more people choosing to stay in their homes longer the workforce needs to be appropriately trained to support people in the early stages of dementia as well as when symptoms progress.

“Around 70 per cent of the 438,000 Australians living with dementia live in the community and tend to have much higher care needs than those who do not have dementia.

“Any organisation that takes on the care of a person living with dementia must commit to training their staff to ensure they are delivering quality dementia care in the home.

“We don’t know the qualifications of the workforce going into people’s homes, we don’t know if they’re equipped to provide the care needed by someone with the complex challenges dementia presents,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia through the Centre for Dementia Learning and its work as part of Dementia Training Australia is one of the leading national providers of dementia education and consultancy to the sector. 

“The community aged care workforce has some unique challenges in how to ensure they access appropriate dementia specific training,” Ms McCabe said.

“Dementia Australia is currently working in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute on a project to develop a dementia training program that is structured to better meet the needs of the community the aged care workforce.

“The issues around home care under scrutiny this week are yet another example that demonstrates how dementia is core business for the aged care industry yet not evidenced in practice.

“Aged care is complex and this Royal Commission is a once in a generation opportunity to transform the industry to make a profound and lasting difference to the lives of all people impacted by dementia.”

Dementia Australia’s Witness Statement to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is here. To read Dementia Australia’s media comments and opinion editorials about the Royal Commission visit https://www.dementia.org.au/royal-commission.

Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 438,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500                                                                                                                Interpreter service available                                                                                                                                                (The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government)                                                                                                        Dementia is a National Health Priority Area                                                                                www.dementia.org.au

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Media contacts: Christine Bolt christine.bolt@demtnia.org.au / 0400 004 553

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