CEO report

Welcome to this new look edition of Dementia News.

Carol Bennett

As 2015 draws to a close, I feel privileged to have been involved in such important work, advocating on behalf of people with dementia and their carers and families. The welcome move of Aged Care into Health, has enabled me to engage with new ministers, staffers and department officials to ensure the needs of people with dementia are at the forefront of health and well-being policy debates. There have been many highlights and much wonderful progress across the Dementia Australia network. I would like to touch on some interesting recent activities for National Office.

Aged care reform is now in full swing as we move towards consumer directed care (CDC). In my role on the Aged Care Sector Committee, sitting alongside other key leaders in the sector, I represent the voice of consumers in the large scale aged care reforms that are underway. A roadmap for aged care is being finalised, which will shortly be presented to the Health Minister. As a member of the Quality Advisory Council, the focus has been on providing advice to the Minister for Aged Care and Health around improvement in quality of services across the aged care sector most importantly, aiming to ensure that quality reflects what consumers value the most, indicators that capture not only clinical outcomes, but also consumer experience.

The government's key policy direction, Consumer Directed Care was the focus of COTA’s conference in Sydney in November at which I was given the opportunity to give a presentation on ‘getting ready for complete consumer control’, and the issues this presents for people with cognitive impairment. It was a great platform to advocate for ensuring that people with dementia are appropriately supported as we move to meet the challenges and opportunities of CDC. I highlighted the need for a greater focus on informed decision-making to ensure people with dementia are enabled to be partners in decision-making when it comes to their care.

The recent national Ministerial Dementia Forum provided an opportunity for review of the key directions and was attended by the Assistant Minister, Ken Wyatt. A report of the forum will be available shortly and will outline recommendations from national leaders across health and aged care on the reform agenda.

Presenting at the Friends of Palliative Care Parliamentary Event at Parliament House recently was an opportunity to highlight the complexities around end-of-life for people with dementia, who have the right to die peacefully, with dignity, and in a way that respects their wishes, yet this is not often the reality. I thank Palliative Care Australia for the opportunity to convey this important message to Parliamentarians in the hope of influencing advancement in this area for all people with a terminal condition, including people with dementia.

It has been an extremely busy period for us at Dementia Australia. We have embarked on some exciting work that we hope to advance in 2016 for the 353,800 Australians living with dementia, their families and carers.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy festive season and look forward to reporting back on further work in 2016, in the next edition of Dementia News.

Thank you for your continued support.
Carol Bennett
Dementia Australia