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Wednesday 3 May 2017
Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes Minister for Aged Care, The Hon. Ken Wyatt’s Review of Aged Care Quality Regulation.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Maree McCabe said as the peak body providing support and advocacy for people with dementia, their families and carers in Australia, the issue of ensuring safety and quality across aged care services is critical to both consumers and Alzheimer’s Australia.
Last year, there were over 220,000 older people who received permanent care in a residential aged care facility, a significant proportion of Australia’s overall population.1
People with dementia represent just over half of all residents in residential aged care facilities and they tend to have much higher care needs than residents who do not have dementia.2
For those residents with dementia this may result in challenges to their ability to communicate which may expose them to undue risk.
This risk is due to a host of factors including cognitive impairment and dementia, depression, immobility, limited support and contact with the outside world and difficulties in accessing the appropriate channels through which to raise complaints, as well as fear of victimisation for doing so.3
“While many people receive good care, unfortunately there are instances where this is not the case and there is evidence that the needs of people with dementia are not being fully-supported through some of our mainstream aged care services.
Ms McCabe said there were particular concerns expressed by consumers, family members and carers regarding residential aged care, where Alzheimer’s Australia receives reports about physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, inappropriate use of restraints, unreported assaults, and people in extreme pain at end-of-life not having access to palliative care.4
“Right now, almost all providers of residential care meet all of the accreditation standards both at full scheduled audit and at unannounced site visits, and currently less than one percent of aged care homes have identified failures,” Ms McCabe said.5
“Given Alzheimer’s Australia receives frequent feedback about consumer/carer dissatisfaction with the quality of residential care provided to people with dementia, we must question if the current standards set the bar high enough.”
Ms McCabe said while people with dementia will always need to be supported by mainstream services, it must be recognised that although dementia is a core part of aged care, it is not enough to rely on the provision of mainstream services to adequately provide for the needs of people with dementia.
“Instead, there must be an approach that combines building capacity in mainstream services to provide quality care for people with dementia, along with the integration of specialist dementia services to support mainstream services where required.”
Alzheimer’s Australia urges the Review to consider and include issues relating to the safety and quality of care for people with dementia as it considers the adequacy of our quality and regulatory processes.
Alzheimer’s Australia has made several recommendations to the government on this subject, including in recent submissions:
- Submission to single quality framework draft aged care quality standards consultation paper
- Submission to Human Rights Commission Consultation on Disability Rights
- Submission to the Aged Care Legislated Review
“As the prevalence of dementia increases in our community, it is critical that all aged care services are well-equipped and motivated to provide safe, high-quality care for people with dementia, as part of their core business,” Ms McCabe said.
1 Productivity Commission (2017). Report on Government Services 2017. Accessed online at: http://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services/2017/community-services/aged-care-services
2 The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling NATSEM for Alzheimer’s Australia (2017). Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056.
3 Barnett and Hayes, ‘Not seen and not heard’.
4 Alzheimer’s Australia (November 2013), Paper 37: Quality of residential aged care: The consumer perspective p4. www.fightdementia.org.au/numbered-publication-37
5 Australian Aged Care Quality (Agency 2015). Let’s talk about quality: Developing a shared understanding of quality in aged care
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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. An estimated 413,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than 1.1 million in 40 years.
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