Government pledges $70m annually for dementia care

Evelyn Lewin

5/02/2019 3:02:43 PM

More than 30 specialist care units for patients with dementia will be established under the new funding.

A network of specialist care units is to be established for patients with dementia.
A network of specialist care units is to be established for patients with dementia.

‘Some of the most vulnerable Australians who live with dementia will benefit from a world-first national network of specialist care units.’
This announcement was made today in a joint statement by Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, along with Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.
The Specialist Dementia Care Program will ensure more than 30 specialist care units are established to provide best practice person-centred care for people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
Under this new program, patients with dementia who are currently unable to be appropriately cared for by mainstream residential aged-care services will be provided with specialist care.
The program will include a commitment to establish at least one specialist care unit in each Primary Health Network. These will generally comprise of nine beds, located within existing residential aged care facilities.
Furthermore, the program will include a nationally consistent needs-based assessment framework designed to ensure care is delivered to those most in need.
Transitional support will also focus on reducing or stabilising a patient’s symptoms, with the aim of enabling the person to move to a less intensive care setting.
The program will be rolled out using a phased approach. A trial site is currently being set up in Perth and should be operational in July, according to The West Australian.
Up to 15 units will be selected via a tender process to be operational by early 2020, with remaining sites to be selected in 2021.
Seniors’ advocacy organisation COTA Australia has welcomed this development.
‘The new specialist care program announced by the Government today … is a good step forward in ensuring people with dementia receive the tailored specialist care they deserve and are entitled to,’ COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said.
Mr Yates said researchers are working hard to find a cure for what is a ‘truly awful disease’.
‘However, in the meantime, it is absolutely essential that people living with dementia and their families are provided access to quality dementia care, including tailored, specialist care for those residents who need additional support, so they have the highest quality of life possible,’ he said.
The Specialist Dementia Care Program will complement the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response teams. It will therefore operate as the ‘third level’ of Federal Government programs designed to assist people with dementia.
According to Dementia Australia, in 2018 there are an estimated 436,366 Australians living with dementia. Dementia Australia also reports that, in 2018, dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion.

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