As the federal election ticks down, Australians impacted by dementia are calling on all candidates to pledge that providing quality dementia care will be placed firmly at the top of the agenda for the ongoing systemic aged care reforms in the 47th parliament.
Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe said it is three-and-a-half years since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was called and 15 months since the final report was handed to Government.
“This final report stated, ‘dementia care should be core business for aged care services, and particularly residential aged care services’,” McCabe said.
“Delivering quality dementia care isn’t yet core business across our aged care system and, without question, it needs to be.
“We know 70 per cent of the almost half a million Australians with dementia are living in the community and 70 per cent of residential aged care residents have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.
“With this prevalence, quality dementia care must be top of the agenda for every plan, framework, strategy and review of the aged care system reform process including residential and home and community care.
McCabe said while there has been significant investment and many aged care reforms are underway, there is still much to be done to fulfil the recommendations of the royal commission.
“People impacted by dementia need the reforms to start making a difference now,” she said.
“It’s not just Government that needs to implement change — we need to see a commitment to quality dementia care from boards, directors and governance committees across the aged care, disability and health care sectors by addressing dementia as an ongoing priority.”
In the lead up to the federal budget and throughout the election campaign the messages from people of all ages impacted by dementia have been loud and clear.
Through events, speeches, meetings, networking, letters, emails, e-newsletters, phone and video calls, video messages, media releases, social media and in the media all candidates have been called on to commit to implementing compulsory dementia training for the aged care workforce, a national dementia palliative care program and renewed funding of the Dementia-Friendly Communities program.
Three Dementia Advocates have shared their reasons why these issues are so important to them in video messages:
“If only the staff at my mother’s aged care facility were properly trained, I could have spent more time engaging in rewarding experiences with my mum such as walking or gardening and less time responding to behavioural challenges,” Isabelle Burke, 27, says.
“Caring for a person with dementia brings unique strains, stresses and challenges; emotional, physical and often financial that aren’t always obvious to those who have not had a lived experience of dementia and dementia caring in their households,” Vern Marshall says.
“This program has changed my life and tens of thousands of other Australians. It has given me hope,” John Quinn, who is living with dementia, says about the Dementia-Friendly Communities Program.
“Dementia Australia will work with the elected government and all sector leaders to ensure the aged care system reforms deliver quality dementia care,” McCabe said.