Too many failures in dementia care
09 April, 2012
Alzheimer’s Australia has welcomed the release today by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, The Hon Mark Butler, of the Alzheimer’s Australia report, Consumer Engagement in the Aged Care Reform Process.
Alzheimer’s Australia thanked the Minister for taking part in a number of the sixteen consultations that were held around the country and the opportunity provided by these consultations to empower people with dementia and family carers to tell their stories.
CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glenn Rees, said the overwhelming feedback of those consulted was that the aged care system is not working well for people with dementia, and even less so for people from diverse communities.
The report found that consumers have no clear pathway on how to access services and once consumers do find some support, it is often inflexible and cannot cope with the special needs that people with dementia and their carers require.
Mr Rees attended 12 of the consultations and said that even after 12 years as CEO of the organisation, he was still shocked at some of the stories that he heard.
“There is a dramatic contrast between the experiences of the people with dementia and family carers who benefitted from timely diagnosis and referral to services, and the overwhelming majority of those who were traumatised by poor diagnosis, lack of information and care services that had next to no understanding of dementia,” Mr Rees said.
“People with dementia and their carers don’t know where to turn to receive services and support that will actually help them even though dementia is a core function of aged care services with over 50% of aged care residents with a diagnosis of dementia.
“It is clear that aged care reform that does not give priority to dementia will fail.
“And it is time the health system took dementia seriously as a chronic disease within a public health framework.
“Sadly it is clear too that it is not just a question of more funding and services but a lack of knowledge and respect for people with dementia in the way they are treated.”
The Alzheimer’s Australia Fight Dementia Campaign has provided a roadmap to Government about how to do it and that is by providing $500 million in the 2012-13 Federal Budget to promote awareness of dementia, timely diagnosis, good care and support, dementia risk reduction and investment in research.
“Failure to act now will lead only to increased burdens and costs for both the nation and individuals, with the highest price for these failures paid by the families of those with this cruel disease, who struggle to care for their loved ones,” Mr Rees said.
“It is pleasing that so many consumers said during the consultations how much they value the services of Alzheimer’s Australia and how many times our staff are told that our services have saved their lives.”
Last year access to these services was put at risk by changes in funding arrangements introduced by the Department of Health and Ageing in the 2011-12 Federal Budget that threaten Alzheimer’s Australia’s future provision of services, including the National Dementia Helpline.
“The National Dementia Helpline is currently run by Alzheimer’s Australia on behalf of the Australian Government and is the first port of call for many people who have concerns about their memories or have just received a diagnosis.
“It is a vital pathway for many people to receive ongoing support, information and counselling, many of whom say they don’t have anywhere else to turn.”
Mr Rees said we owe a huge debt to people living with dementia and their carers for sharing their stories openly during the consultations.
Download a full copy of the report here.
Download a copy of the media release here.
Download the Fight Dementia Action Plan asking for $500 million in the upcoming 2012-13 Federal Budget here