An investment of $1 billion is needed over the next five years to minimise the impact of dementia on the nation’s health system, according to Alzheimer’s Australia.
On World Alzheimer’s Day the group has released recommendations for a major boost to the national dementia initiative in its 2010 budget submission.
Three weeks ago it announced that by mid-century there would be more than 1.1 million Australians with dementia, saying the spread of the condition was akin to an "epidemic".
A key aim of the Alzheimer’s Australia proposal is improved service access for people with dementia and their carers.
It is asking for more funding to assist people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those who in rural and remote areas to use mainstream services.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glenn Rees said the government also needs to build on existing services, particularly for people living in the community.
“We know that about 60 per cent of people with dementia live in the community and 37 per cent of them receive no support at all,” said Mr Rees.
“There are very few high care packages for for people with dementia and there is a huge gap between the CACPs (community aged care packages) and the EACH D (extended aged care at home – dementia) packages.
“Fundamental reforms are very much needed in the community care sector in terms of the types of support on offer and the quantity of support.”
The group wants $45 million of the $1 billion to be used to improve the quality of dementia care by providing better training, advice and knowledge translation.
“There is a need to focus on areas of practice that are critical to quality of life for people with dementia including cultural competence, pain management, palliative care and the recognition of depression and anxiety,” said Mr Rees.
The budget submission also contains recommendations for an awareness campaign, increased research funding and more education for local doctors on how to diagnose dementia.
Professor Henry Brodaty from the Primary Dementia Collaborative Research Centre at the University of NSW said that only a third of people with dementia receive a formal diagnosis.
“There is an urgent need for dementia education and training packages to increase earlier detection and diagnosis in general practice and other primary care settings,” said Professor Brodaty.
“There is a growing research evidence base for how to deliver quality dementia care; our task is to translate this research and knowledge into practice.”