A year on since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect and now into the third year of the pandemic, extra and ongoing pressures are being placed on the health and aged care systems.
Dementia Australia said the additional $468.3m announced in Tuesday night’s budget including measures announced earlier in the week for aged care demonstrates an ongoing commitment by the Government to respond to the royal commission.
The organisation’s CEO, Maree McCabe, reiterated the need for maintaining the momentum and focus on aged care, especially in relation to the aged care workforce issues, including dementia education.
“A robust aged care system is essential to provide a guarantee of quality care to people living with dementia,” McCabe said.
“We know from our work and broad consultation with people living with dementia, their families and carers, that if we get quality care right for people living with dementia then there will be quality care for all.
“As we turn towards the election, while the pandemic will continue to present significant challenges across society, we must work with all parties and sectors to ensure providing better care for people living with dementia now and into the future remains a priority.”
For the sector to deliver quality dementia care as a consistent and integral part of aged care, McCabe said the nation must continue to support the aged care workforce, strengthen their knowledge and skills and develop practice leaders and mentors.
Dementia Australia has acknowledged the strong commitment to aged care by opposition leader Anthony Albanese in his budget reply speech.
McCabe said the focus on ensuring registered nurses are on site; committing to more time to care as recommended by the royal commission; increasing wages for care workers; ensuring better food for residents and delivering new funding to provide better care, are all welcomed and essential to providing quality aged and dementia care.
“We need to maintain the momentum and focus on aged care and dementia, especially in relation to workforce issues and the need for compulsory dementia education,” she said.
“With 70 per cent of the almost half a million Australians with dementia living in the community and 70 per cent of those in residential aged care having moderate to severe cognitive impairment, it is crucial to specifically include a guarantee of delivering quality dementia care throughout the entire aged care system – residential and home and community care.
“What our clients and advocates tell us is they want to consistently see and hear a strong message from our leaders that dementia is top of the agenda within the aged care reform process.
“We know from our work and broad consultation with people living with dementia, their families and carers, that if we get quality care right for people living with dementia then there will be quality care for all.”
Dementia Australia is calling for support of three crucial initiatives to build on existing measures designed to deliver quality care and inclusion for people living with dementia.
The three initiatives, outlined in Dementia Australia’s Delivering on the Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care, are focused on the introduction of compulsory dementia education for aged care workers, the establishment of a national dementia palliative care program and renewed funding for the award-winning Dementia-Friendly Communities program.
“Dementia Australia looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Government to plan ahead for the next 5-10 years,” McCabe said.
“Together we must keep dementia front of mind.”