Aged Care System ‘Failing’ Dementia Sufferers
10 April 2012 at 12:20 pm
Australia’s aged care system is failing people with dementia, according to a new report by Alzheimer’s Australia.
And the Not for Profit is calling for a Federal Government injection of $500 million in the upcoming Budget to redress many of the issues.
The report found that patients have no clear pathway on how to access services and once they do find some support, it is often inflexible and cannot cope with the special needs that people with dementia and their carers require.
It also says that most find the aged care system complicated, inflexible and largely unable to meet their needs.
The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, released the report based on feedback received from older Australians, their families and carers through the national conversation on aged care reform.
He said the report makes for “sober reading”.
According to Alzheimer’s Australia, more than 1,000 people attended 16 Alzheimer’s Australia consultations nationwide.
Butler said it was clear from the feedback received through the consultations that the issues that continue to plague care for people with dementia have not been given the prominence they deserve in the debate about the quality of aged care.
“Across all 16 consultations, the overwhelming view of older Australians is that the aged care system is simply not meeting the needs of dementia sufferers and their families,” Butler said.
Butler said that the level of care being provided to dementia sufferers was raised as a key concern by families and carers.
“Families want to keep loved ones living with dementia at home for as long as possible but the current system does not provide adequate support and assistance to enable people to remain at home,” Butler said.
“Long waiting times, lack of transparency in administration costs and artificial barriers in what services can and cannot provide often leave families feeling confused.
“The care available is clearly not meeting the needs of people with dementia.”
Alzheimer’s Australia chief executive, Glenn Rees, said that the government needs to provide $500 million in the 2012-13 Federal Budget to promote awareness, timely diagnosis, good care and support, and risk reduction for dementia, as well as investment in research.
“It is time the health system took dementia seriously as a chronic disease within a public health framework,” Rees said.
“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.”
Alzheimer’s Australia says that there are nearly 280,000 Australians living with dementia and without a significant medical breakthrough, the number is expected to soar to almost 1 million by 2050.
Butler said that tackling dementia will be a key consideration in the government’s assessment of the Productivity Commission report.
“As Australians, we enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world but we need to make sure that those extra years are years of quality,” Butler said.